The push for diversity in the directors’ chair is still spinning its wheels, according to the Directors Guild of America’s new study of feature films in 2017.
The report, released on Thursday, studied all 651 films that were theatrically released last year, including those with a box office gross of less than $250,000. Even with microbudget films included, the DGA found that only 16 percent of last year’s films were directed by women. When reducing the survey pool just to films that grossed more than $250,000 at the box office, only 12 percent are directed by women with 10 percent directed by people of color.
“It’s outrageous that we’re once again seeing such a lack of opportunity for women and people of color to direct feature films. Our new study shows that discriminatory practices are still rampant across every corner of the feature film business,” said DGA President Thomas Schlamme.
“There is a misconception that things are better in the smaller, indie film world, but that’s simply not the case. From financing and hiring, to distribution and agent representation – every aspect of the entire system disadvantages women and people of color.”
In March, TheWrap conducted its annual survey of the six major Hollywood studios to tally how many female directors were included on their upcoming film slates. Of the 90 films being released by the Big Six in 2018, only three were directed by women: Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle In Time,” Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s “The Darkest Minds,” and Kay Cannon’s “Blockers.” The annual percentage of female-directed major studio films has never exceeded ten percent.
TheWrap also found that nine female-directed films were on the Big Six’s slate for 2019, though that has been cut down to eight after Sony Pictures removed the “Spider-Man” spinoff “Silver and Black” from their slate earlier this month. Gina Prince-Bythewood had been attached to direct.
In his statement, Schlamme said that in recent negotiations, the DGA has pushed studios to adopt the Rooney Rule, a policy in the National Football League that requires teams to interview people of color for coaching positions. The rule has been adopted by some companies outside of sports, including Facebook.
“Change is long overdue,” said Schlamme. “Inclusion is a fight we’ve been fighting with the industry for four decades now, and it’s been an uphill battle to get them to change their hiring practices. […] We are committed to keeping at this for as long as it takes.”