Number of Women Directing Indie Films Far Outweighs Those Working on Studio Projects

“Claims that qualified women directors don’t exist or are in short supply are at odds with the data,” study author Dr. Martha Lauzen says

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Turns out there are plenty of women with directing experience, according to a new study. The problem is, they’re not the kind of films that most people can see in theaters, where mainstream films from the Hollywood studios are for the most part the only option.

Women directed 29 percent of independent documentaries over the past year, and 18 percent of the narrative features not made by major Hollywood studios, according to the study released Wednesday by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. These figures stand in stark contrast to the 7 percent of women who were among the directors of the top grossing films of 2014, as reported in a January study by the same group.

“The findings drive home the point that women who direct are much more plentiful than the numbers from the mainstream film industry would lead us to believe,” said Dr. Martha Lauzen, executive director of the center, about this latest study. “Claims that qualified women directors don’t exist or are in short supply are at odds with the data.”

Part of the reason for the misunderstanding could be under-exposure. The smaller, indie films that gave women directors a more fair share of the action played primarily to small crowds at film festivals and art houses rather than the multiplexes, which are dominated by mainly male-directed and more expensive studio films

Lauzen studied 20 of the top film festivals in the country, including Sundance, South by Southwest, and Tribeca for her report.

The study comes just three weeks after the American Civil Liberties Union announced it planned to ask state and federal agencies to investigate Hollywood studios, networks and talent agencies, and possibly charge them, over what the ACLU describes as rampant gender discrimination in recruiting and hiring female directors.