Report: Despite Bigelow’s Oscar, Celluloid Ceiling Higher Than Ever for Women

How bad is it? “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke says she couldn’t even get a meeting to direct “The Fighter.”

EXCLUSIVE:

Kathryn Bigelow won the "Best Director" Oscar last year but it's still a man's world in Hollywood — especially behind the camera.

Just ask Catherine Hardwicke. She directed 2008's "Twilight," the first in the hugely successful vampire franchise, but Hardwicke told TheWrap she was prevented from even pitching to direct "The Fighter."

"I couldn't get an interview even though my last movie made $400 million," she said to TheWrap. "I was told it had to be directed by a man — am I crazy?" said Hardwicke, who also noted she liked what David O. Russell did on the film. "It's about action, it's about boxing, so a man has to direct it … But they'll let a man direct "Sex in the City" or any girly movie you've ever heard of."

That reality is reflected in the annual report, “The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 250 Films of 2010,” by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Films, which will be released Tuesday.

Women make up more than 50 percent of the U.S. population but they made up a mere 7 percent of directors of major motion pictures in 2010, according to the new report obtained by TheWrap.

It shows that only 16 percent of all movie directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors in major films — 1 percent below the 1998 figure and the same as it was in 2009.

One of those directors, Hardwicke said that while women are making inroads, there's still plenty of discrimination. She said female directors, cinematographers and other professionals frequently get the rejection she received when wanting to get involved with "The Fighter."

According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Films report, the percentage of women directing major movies declined from 9 percent in 1998 to 7 percent in 2009 and 2010. Women comprised 2 percent of all cinematographers, 10 percent of all writers, 15 percent of all executive producers, 18 percent of all editors and 24 percent of all producers in 2010.

“These numbers are just remarkably stable,” Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Films told TheWrap. Lauzen’s study analyzed employment of 2,649 people working on the top 250 domestic-grossing films of 2010. 

Some women have certainly broken what Lauzen calls the “celluloid ceiling.”

Last year, Kathryn Bigelow smashed part of that ceiling when she became the first woman to win a “Best Director” Oscar for her work on "The Hurt Locker."

A number of top notch female directors, such as Lisa Cholodenko who directed “The Kids Are All Right,” Nora Ephron, Sofia Coppola and Catherine Hardwicke, are behind some of Hollywood's most critically acclaimed films.

But they are rare.

“Citing a few women can be tremendously misleading, because you never know how a group is going until you count their numbers,” Lauzen said.

None of the feature film directors nominated for Academy Awards this year are women, though two of the 10 films Oscar-nominated for Best Picture are directed by women — "The Kids Are All Right" and "Winter's Bone,"  Lisa Cholodenko and Debra Granik, respectively.

This year, Mark Ruffalo admonished Academy members to nominate Cholodenko — a plea they ignored.

“Why don’t you grow a pair and vote for Lisa Cholodenko as well?” he said backstage at the Golden Globe Awards.

Yet despite such sentiments, Hardwicke says she's optimistic.

She noted the new Warner Bros. movie she' s directing, "Red Riding Hood," has two female editors, a female cinematographer and two female producers. 

"This is definitely an ongoing issue for all female directors and everybody in the business," she said.

San Diego's Lauzen said that women make up about 28 percent of all characters in film – a number that has remained the same since the 1940s. According to a 2010 report from the MPAA, 113 million of the 217 million moviegoers in 2009 were women, and women bought 55 percent of all movie tickets.

Marti Noxon, the longtime television writer and producer who wrote the upcoming "Fright Night" and "I Am Number Four," both for DreamWorks, told TheWrap that "when put to the test, women have proven they write all kinds of stuff. One of my dear friends is an action writer and I write mostly genre stuff, and we (women) get relegated to the romantic comedy pile, which is a shame because that's just an old idea about what we can do."