Catherine Hardwicke, Julie Taymor Back Kickstarter Project to Close Hollywood’s Gender Gap

"If woman is a maverick or an auteur, she often is labeled a bitch," Taymor tells TheWrap

Catherine Hardwicke, Julie Taymor and Julie-Anne Robinson are all celebrated directors with the same complaint: They had no role models when they started out. 

"I certainly didn't know any female directors when I came to L.A.," Hardwicke, director of "Thirteen” and "Twlight,” told TheWrap.

Taymor, too, lamented "the worship of the enfant terrible — the brilliant young male."

"If woman is a maverick or an auteur, she often is labeled a bitch,” the "Frida" and "Across the Universe" director said.

Robinson (left) is a Golden Globe-nominated director who has a large catalogue of episodic TV work, including "The Middle," "Nurse Jackie," "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy."

Now these women have a new hero to rally around — a turn-of-the-century French pioneer named Alice Guy-Blaché, who directed one of the first narrative films on record and launched one of the first studios.

Also read: 'Spexism': Sales of Female-Penned Spec Scripts Hit New Low 

She has since been forgotten, prompting filmmakers Pamela Green and Jarik van Sluijs to document a career that could inspire other young women to take up directing.

With Green three days away from the end of her campaign for "Be Natural" on Kickstarter, TheWrap spoke with Hardwicke, Taymor and Robinson about why they think the tale of Guy-Blaché needs to be told.

How did you first hear about Guy-Blaché?
TAYMOR: From Pamela; that’s how ignorant I was. I had never heard of her even being a film director and a woman.

ROBINSON: I’d never heard of her until Pamela brought her up to me.

HARDWICKE: I was blown away that as a female director that I’d never heard of her.

And yet you all agreed to be interviewed for the movie. 
TAYMOR (left): I was astonished when they showed me not just the story of Alice but her brilliance and how avant-garde she was for her time. She was the first filmmaker to use an all-black cast. She made films about gender that are way before her time, and about homosexuality and Christianity.

What other women have you stumbled across in your research?
ROBINSON: Very few. Leni Riefenstahl is one.

TAYMOR: Alice’s is a common story sadly enough. You know the big famous ones — Madame Curie — but the stories of great women during their day who didn’t get the credit.

How much has changed since then?
ROBINSON: I don’t think it has changed. History is written by men. This is what the project is about. It’s important to tell the story of this woman who has been written out of film history.

What impact will crediting her have?
TAYMOR: It’s always good for everybody to see a great artist exposed when they have been forgotten for one reason or another. Did you see "20 Feet From Stardom”? It’s almost a female virtue not to brag. It holds a lot of women back from taking credit when they have been behind the scenes.

Also read: Women Are on the Rise at Sundance – When Will Studios Take Note?

TAYMOR: There still is a dearth of female filmmakers — especially in powerful positions, especially on big features. You tell me how many women have been hired to make big popcorn films. Not any. Guys who do a super-duper commercial get $200 million films.

Why does that statistic still exist?
HARDWICKE (right): There just seems to be a long bias, as much as we don’t want to think it. There is the old boys club. People have bizarre reasons. I’ve heard everything, including "a woman can’t handle action as well" — even if Kathryn Bigelow has proven it.

ROBINSON: A lot of it is to do with a lack of role models. There have only been four women ever nominated for an Oscar as a director. That has a lot to do with it.

TAYMOR: My favorite filmmakers were all male when I started — maybe even still.

HARDWICKE: I let everything slide for a while. My first couple of movies, people might have liked them, but when I did make a blockbuster and started a big franchise called "Twilight" I thought, "Wow, no there’s no excuse." Every guy I knew who made a movie that successful got a three-picture deal and an office on the lot. None of that happened to me. Then I realized there is still a real barrier.