The Default Setting

Default Setting
Top 10 Highest Grossing Directors of All Time
By The Nerdling

Last week, The Root ran a great article spotlighting Queen Sugar’s three straight seasons of all-female directors.  In the article, creator and showrunner, Ava DuVernay is quoted as saying “If Game of Thrones can have three seasons of all-male directors, why can’t we have three seasons of all-woman directors?”  The amazing director linked the article to her twitter posing the same question, sparking mass praise from many who agree.

Of course, there were plenty of tweets that looked like this:

Best People For the Job Argument

(While both of these tweets are from male run accounts, sadly enough, there were plenty of female run accounts who expressed the same sentiment)

In a perfect world, gender and race politics shouldn’t play into who is hired, as long as they are the best person to tell that story.  But we don’t live in a perfect world.  We live in a world where the go to for directors are OWM (Older White Male), no matter what story is being told.  Same goes for composing, writing, producing, editing, and cinematography.

The blog Women and Hollywood has been publishing statistics of representation of women in the industry since 2008 and the numbers are disheartening.  From 1998 to 2016, the average amount of women working as a director, executive producer, writer, producer, editor, or cinematographer in the top 250 films of each of those years was only 17%.  2017 saw an improvement to 18%, but nearly 30% of the top 250 films had one or no women in the aforementioned roles.

This year’s Academy Awards only saw its fifth female nominee (Greta Gerwig) for the Best Director category in the institution’s 90-year history.  Of those five nominees, only one female has won the prize (Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 for The Hurt Locker).  No black female directors have ever been nominated.

Shaking My Head

USC Annenberg published a study earlier this year looking at 1,100 of the most popular films from 2007 to 2017 breaking down gender, race, and age of the directors.

Their conclusions:

  • Number of Female Directed Movies – 52
  • Number of Black/African American Directed Movies – 64
    • 4 by a Female, Black/African American
  • Number of Asian/Asian American Directed Movies – 39
    • 3 by a Female, Asian/Asian American
      • Jennifer Yuh Nelson appears twice on this list for Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3
    • Number of Latina Directed Movies – 1
      • Patricia Riggen who directed Miracles From Heaven
    • Out of the 1,100 movies, there were 665 individual directors
      • 622 of them were Male
        • 577 were White
      • 43 were Female
        • 36 were White
      • 31 were Black
      • 20 were Asian

Jessica Huang

  • Number of Female Directors who directed ONE movie – 36
  • Number of Female Directors who directed TWO movies – 5
  • Number of Female Directors who directed THREE movies – 1
  • Number of Female Directors who directed FOUR movies – 1
  • Number of Female Directors who directed FIVE+ movies – 0
  • Number of Black/African American Directors who directed ONE movie – 23
  • Number of Black/African American Directors who directed TWO movies – 4
  • Number of Black/African American Directors who directed THREE movies – 1
  • Number of Black/African American Directors who directed FOUR movies – 2
  • Number of Black/African American Directors who directed FIVE+ movies – 3
  • Disney Studios, the most profitable studio in the last several years, distributed 108 films from 2007-2017
    • Five were directed a woman
    • Four had an Asian director at the helm
    • Zero had a Black director
  • There were zero Females in their 20s, 70s, or 80s who directed a film in the studied time period
    • 8 Males in their 20s, 24 in their 70s, and 6 in their 80s directed films
      • Most Males were in their 40s with 525 directors

“Why can’t Hollywood just hire people who are the best person for the job?” line of reasoning will remain a bunk argument until Hollywood changes the default settings away from OWM.  Representation and Inclusion Riders are important because they give a chance for women and minorities to direct, write, produce, edit, and film movies and TV shows.

Women like Ava DuVerney and Jessica Chastain are walking the walk along with FX and more need to join them so hopefully one day Hollywood will actually hire based on talent and not on the default setting.

The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram