Women Directors and Writers Lose Ground in Indie Film as Numbers Decline

Sofia Coppola

A new study finds that the number of women writing and directing films shown at festivals last year decreased from 2011-12

Women filmmakers have largely been frozen out of the studio world, and their numbers are now falling in the independent film realm as well.

The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State U. analyzed the lineups of 23 different prestigious film festivals that took place between May 2013 and 2014, with alarming findings.

Overall, the percentage of women working in key positions (i.e., producers, executive producers, cinematographers and editors) on movies held at 26 percent, the same as 2011-2012. However, women comprised just 23 percent of directors, down from 29 percent in 2011-12, and 22 percent of writers, down from 24 percent in 11-12.

Also read: Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment Hits 16-Year Low for Women in Hollywood

Things looked a bit better on the producing side; women producers inched up two points to 33 percent, and exec producers also rose a deuce to 27 percent.

Editors were down a full five points, to 20 percent, while cinematographers dropped three, to 10 percent.

A dive into the numbers finds that things are a bit better for women documentarians, though again, only producers and executive producers saw their share of the jobs increase.

Also read: Hollywood Dumps Diversity (Again): White Men Directed 90 Percent of This Year’s Summer Movies

Women were producers on 39 percent of documentaries and 30 percent of narrative films, while they directed 28 percent of docs and just 18 percent of narratives. They wrote 23 percent of docs and just 21 percent of features. Only 20 percent edited docs (down seven percent) and 12 percent shot them (down five percent); 19 percent edited features (down from 23 percent) and just seven percent were cinematographers.

As low as these numbers look, they are massive compared to the number of women working for studios: Just one of the big summer films coming out this year will be directed by a woman, and only six percent of the highest grossing films released last year were helmed by a woman.