September 28, 2013

Gamechanger Films Officially Launches, Aims to Fund Female Directors

1532737_FI_0920_gamechang_03_CMCData surfaced earlier this year that revealed that only 4.4% of the directors across the top 100 box office films were women, which left many in the industry wondering how to get that number closer to 50. Aiming to help balance the gender incongruity, a new film fund, Gamechanger Films, which targets narrative feature films directed by women exclusively, launched yesterday. Founded by a group of independent producers, Gamechanger plans on financing these films in hopes that it will turn the tide of film culture by changing perceptions of women in film, hopefully causing long-term change in the industry.

Gamechanger Films, based in New York, was founded by producers Julie Parker Benello, Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous and Wendy Ettinger, and is led by producers Mynette Louie and Mary Jane Skalski. According to an article in the LA Times, the idea of forming a company that caters to female filmmakers came about after results from studies by UN Women and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found the percentage of female directors in Hollywood to be paltry.

According to their findings, women have made up only 7% of directors on the top 250-grossing Hollywood and independent films over the last several years, even though, as the studies show, roughly 50% of film school graduates are women. And still the same question pervades: Why?

Skalski and Louie offer explanations. Skalski says that low numbers perpetuate low numbers, in that if there aren't many women making films, then fewer female names show up on lists of possible directors for a project. Louie adds that oftentimes films helmed by women are (mistakenly) seen as financially unviable in a financing structure led by mostly men. So, Gamechanger's method of solving this misconception is to speak the same language as Hollywood: money. Cogan tells Filmmaker Magazine:

The best way to get more women in the director’s chair is to demonstrate to the industry that women directors can be just as financially successful as men. With Gamechanger, we will be providing capital to gifted women directors, enabling them to be successful and to demonstrate their ability to make a return for investors.

Gamechanger Films says it will focus completely on scripted features directed or co-directed by women, that range in subject matter and genre. However, according to Filmmaker Magazine, the company shows a particular affinity for science fiction and horror -- probably because they believe those genres will get the best return for the investment, which will hopefully convince other investors and financiers that women can make marketable and financially successful films, too (just look at the box office receipts of Nicole Holofcener's film Enough Saidwhich was “one of the best limited debuts of the year.” )

What do you think of the launch of Gamechanger Films? Do you think this will help female filmmakers get more involved in the industry?

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57 Comments

Part of me is happy and the other part is kind of put off by this. It's a good thing in my mind, but I also feel that the films should speak for themselves. Majority of the movie goers don't really go see movies because of the director. The movie itself intrigues them. Therefore, success would seem to come from the movie you direct and how interested people are in it. Not because the director is male or female. This is the same reason why I find things given to people just because they happen to be black or Latino kind of strange (at least when it comes to film). I know their intentions are good and I'm not saying this is wrong. I simply have these internal debates when I hear about things like this.

September 28, 2013

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I agree with you. Most filmgoers could care less if the director is a man or woman. However, before a movie can even be seen by filmgoers it has to be invested in by financiers/studios and a director has to be hired on.

Female filmmakers struggle more with finding financing compared to their male counterparts.
And, like I noted in the article, female directors aren't considered as financially viable as male directors. Therein lies the problem.

But, I echo your sentiment for sure. No one likes to see others get preferential treatment for seemingly inconsequential reasons -- like when guys get directing jobs over women because they're guys.

September 28, 2013

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director

Is there a way to calculate the numbers of female directors who try and are rejected financing? What if the number of women who try to find financing is only 9% total, compared to whatever the percentage is for men who try?

September 28, 2013

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VinceGortho

I don't think that would change anything. If women aren't seeking funding, it's more likely because they know they won't find it than it is that they don't want to.

September 30, 2013

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Kat

I don't believe they have a collective defeatist attitude, where they don't show up to bat. But that's just my belief.

September 30, 2013

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VinceGortho

I don't understand this craze to get more women directors as if boosting score points for ones gender. Women are doing very well in the independent circle and are very relevant in Hollowood. In this day and age, the road blocks prohibiting someone of race and gender from making a film can be avoided by navigating the indie circuit.
Brit Marling is a great example of someone making her way in the film industry by writing better roles for herself instead of waiting for fortune to find her; while Michelle Rodriguez and professional complainers like her only do just that.

September 28, 2013

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VinceGortho

"Women are doing very well in the independent circle and are very relevant in Hollywood." How do you figure?

Here are some numbers for you: 23.9% of directors at Sundance were women. 4.4% of the directors across the top 100 box office films were women -- and that number jumps to only 7% across the top 250. That's not relevance at all!

I hope people (ESPECIALLY filmmakers) aren't satisfied with 4.4% and 7% female participation.

September 28, 2013

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director

No way am I satisfied with low numbers. I'm just not a fan of fighting sexism with sexism. Exclusive; no boys allowed clubs do not seem progressive to me.

September 28, 2013

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VinceGortho

What would you suggest?

September 28, 2013

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director

You got caught Renee. I'm a girl and even I know it is horrible to promote sexism and "women" only agendas. Nothing could be.more damaging to children who view such such crap.

September 29, 2013

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Heather

Again, then what should be done? It's easy to be critical, but difficult to make a positive change to the paradigm, which is what Gamechanger is trying to do.

September 29, 2013

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director

Continue to celebrate the achievements of female accomplishments in film. Not only directors but also those behind the scenes as well. Let their involvement grow naturally as they work side by side with male directors and producers.
Those who harp on numbers may not see their 50/50 contributions to film in their life time, but rest assured they'll be on their way. Look at the numbers for women getting degrees. Last I heard it outnumbers men. Was that based on some form of affirmative action?

On a side note. Do women find it patronizing they always get introduced or labeled strong? Whenever I watch a talk show, or listen to radio, the host, male or female introduces his next guest, who is a woman with education/professional experience; they almost always include the description of "strong," before saying their name.
I mostly involve myself with people who have strengths over weaknesses, but hearing it over and over seems a bit standard issue now, or patronizing. Thoughts?

September 29, 2013

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VinceGortho

Some of the best directors working today are women (e.g. Lucrecia Martel, Samira Makhmalbaf, Claire Denis, Agnes Varda, etc), they're just not part of the Hollywood English-language commercial mainstream.

Make of that what you will.

September 28, 2013

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I also don't understand this constant battle for 50/50 gender congruency. The genders are different, deal with it. There are very evolutionary explanations for males having higher innate skills in the fields involved with film directing... just like women, on average, being more evolutionarily adapt for writing and literature. It doesn't mean that women shouldn't try or be allowed, because ANY PERSON could be great at it, and some women are really good. But it doesn't mean there is some "problem" just because there are so few women in the field. We're so messed up from our generation's "education" (i.e. indoctrination) that people honestly can't see reality any more. "Everyone and everything MUST BE 100% EQUAL or there is a PROBLEM!!!" Well guess what? This is not how nature or biology works. The idea that everyone is equal, and only different because of "social-constructs" is DIRECTLY opposed to evolution. It's more of a religion than anything.

September 28, 2013

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bwhitz

Sigh. I remember you making these ridiculous and unfounded claims in a post some months ago. You couldn't show any evidence to support your pseudoscientific claims then and you can't now.
What are these "very evolutionary explanations"? If you make a claim based on science the burden of proof is on you to provide evidence.
You don't understand evolution and I've never seen you display anything more than a philistinic grasp of evolutionary psychology (a very complex and often misused branch of evolutionary studies).
Stop trying to use science to support your bigoted views.

September 28, 2013

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Mak

I understand what he's trying to say and I disagree, just like you, but I think there are a few valid points he's making here.

I'm a woman and a feminist and am frequently fighting for equality. Unfortunately, this is still a sneered-at movement, so many times people view it as overstepping or trying too hard. You're right, bwhitz, things don't have to be or even should be 100% the same- that would be madly boring- but I don't think there's any reason to put down an idea or company that is offering a way to attain that standing.

Some men are very direct and commanding- these skills are excellent as a director. But some women are too. At the same time, some men aren't and some women aren't. So I get your point that you were trying to say not all of one gender is not going to be amazing at one particular thing.

But the 100% equal thing you claimed is our goal? That's never going to happen. We have years and years of this "evolution" you talked about beaten into us, into our genes, where history has frequently said this and been skeptical on women having certain talents. I know you're not a bigot and that you're not saying women can't handle the director's side of things. But it kind of bugs me you're not really rooting for a company that's promoting opportunity FOR them to show their stuff. This company is not going to bump the women to men directors ratio up to 50/50. It's just not. But there is very good reason to want to raise the number of women directors if that 7% statistic is true. We're trying to level the ground, not level the human race.

P.S. - You really should look into these social constructs you refuse to believe in. Don't tell me they don't exist when stay-at-home men are still frowned upon and people still assume women are the better fit for cleaning and cooking and the men are better suited to bringing home the bacon. That's not just something we make up as feminists. That's not in the past. That's a social construct.

September 28, 2013

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Actually I would like to see more female crew members, talk about strong women there. But that's often tough job and no hot flashes. Like at all.

September 28, 2013

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Natt

Well I'm a female director and I have an all female production team. It jus happened like that. Im not worried about being accept. I just want to be able to get my point across visually. Check out our current project. Indegogo campaign coming soon: www.fb.com/Standpoint

October 7, 2013

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I'd prefer fewer films by great women directors who set new standards on good storytelling, instead of some unimportant, 50/50, feel good by filling the gaps with mediocre cattle-call talent.

September 28, 2013

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VinceGortho

Are you assuming that filling the gap with women means filling it with "mediocre cattle-call talent?"

September 28, 2013

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director

Excuse me while I hug you for that incredible one-liner.

September 28, 2013

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For people concerned about crunching numbers instead of content; a very real possibility.

September 28, 2013

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VinceGortho

See, that's just it. I don't think they're just "crunching numbers". They're using those numbers to support their point - which is that female directors don't get enough representation because in many ways the film industry is still something of a boys club (for example 77% of Oscar voters, Academy members, are male). Gamechanger Films isn't trying to shut out male directors, thats not its intention. From what I've read I gather that their goal is to provide funding for female directors that are just as talented and qualified as their male counterparts but were maybe passed over in mainstream Hollywood because they were women. Something which obviously happens or Hollywood wouldn't have a paltry 4.4% of female directors.

December 4, 2013

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Lexi

I'm all for quality over quantity, but Hollywood would disagree.

September 28, 2013

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Natt

This is a fantastic idea. Look forward to seeing the films!

September 28, 2013

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marklondon

Fighting sexism with sexism. This is no different than scholarships exclusively geared for a certain race, which in turn is racism. The only thing a filmmaker should be judged by is their films. If you are truly against sexism and being treated differently for having a penis or not, why support a company that does exactly that?

September 28, 2013

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Filmpunk

You make a good point- I'm just finding it difficult to find another way to bump these numbers up from where they are. We need something, whether that be workshops against gender stereotyping in film or something along the likes if that. These numbers are far too low and we need to do something about them.

Also, on a side note, I'm pleased to see one of the producers and founders for this company is a man. I suppose some might assume he just got reeled in by friends, but it's entirely possible he just felt it was a good way to promote and support future female directors.

September 29, 2013

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Les blame men for the fact here are fewer female directors than male. Then let's afford women preferential opportunities.

Then let's remind ourselves that women can do the most amazing thing in life that men can't - bring life in to the world. Then let men step aside so women can take a percentage of opportunities away from them in the name of 'equality'.

"Can have your cake and eat it too"

Maybe V (insert pretentious name here) Renee can direct a film instead of blogging on NFS every day.

September 28, 2013

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Shrieb

>Maybe V (insert pretentious name here) Renee can direct a film instead of blogging on NFS every day.

Sick burn, high five, you totally #rekt her xDDDDDD

September 28, 2013

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Natt

I'd rather have my cake and eat it too (do both.)

-V Rockafeller Moneybags Ivy League Rhodes Scholar Renée

P.S. Thank you for keeping this comment of yours relatively clean (i.e. not saying "anus" a bunch.)

September 28, 2013

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director

You sensor and delete posts that you don't agree with. It just means you're deluded and in denial. The creme, male or female rises to the top. Thus, Kathryn Bigelow is a director and the bitter women here, are not.

September 29, 2013

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Shrieb

I'll let you voice your opinions about the issues, but I'm not going to allow you to make misogynistic comments, telling female commenters that you're hungry and to "go get you a beer."

September 29, 2013

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director

WHAT? Just... where in this article or in these comments did it say, "These numbers are so low because guys are horrible and only want to be at the top."? It didn't say one word about men being the reason. It DID, however, site social opinions and statistics for women in this industry. That's not blaming men, genius, that's called comparison.

Also, before you keep bashing Renee, send us a link to your film so we know you're not just accusing her of the same thing you do.

September 29, 2013

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Equality for erryone

September 28, 2013

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Natt

In terms of economics, if women - or any other group deemed underrepresented in any field - are indeed discriminated against, then this venture has a decent chance be profitable. In this regard, this will be like finding an undervalued stock on Wall Street or a good player in the lower rounds of the draft in a US pro sports league. If, on the other hand, the original premise is incorrect, then the investment may go to those with less potential/commercial appeal. For whatever reasons. If they're doing it with private funds, then they're putting their money where their mouths are at the very least.
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PS. I remember once Buddy Ryan - coach, general manager, father of Rex and Rob - was given full powers of a GM with Arizona Cardinals. After his first draft as a GM, he said referring to his competition brethren, ~ "The league must be really dumb to let these great prospects to fall to us in the later rounds". Unfortunately for Buddy, the league was smarter than he was. His draft choices did not perform to the league standards and neither did he, lasting only two seasons as Arizona's coach/GM.

September 28, 2013

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DLD

So where are all those guys from the "misogynist" RED DRAGON post joining in support of women as equals, not just sex objects? Seems like when anyone goes out of their way to make a point to support female filmmakers, it falls on deaf ears except for the guys who think it's unfair, and when something seems like women are being used as objects, all the feminists come out.

Don't understand it at all.

September 29, 2013

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Dano

Um, I'm here? :-)

September 29, 2013

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marklondon

I wish there was a like button for this. Thanks, Mark.

September 29, 2013

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There will be a difference for as long as people make a difference, the gamechanger films approach is therefore clearly a step in the wrong direction...

September 29, 2013

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I'm glad to see young filmmakers are no more enlightened than other internet users. /sarcasm.
We need A LOT more women in the industry, and its great to see a groundswell of female writers, directors and DOPs here in LA. We just have to make sure they get equal opportunities at bigger projects, i.e someone writes the check.
We also need more women in film media: if I read one more book/bio of a male auteur that makes him seem like an all conquering demi-god I may puke. The excellent profile of Kimberly Pierce in the NYT was a step in the right direction.
We need fresh voices of all kinds in film, and in English language film in particular. And we need funding mechanisms aimed directly at supporting those voices.

September 29, 2013

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marklondon

I'm going to make an organization to fund people with dwarfism, americans who are missing limbs, and are native american. I mean don't they deserve an equal opportunity too, I'm pretty sure their numbers are lower. Why are feminist pushing sexism to the point that it just seems like they want all the benefits with no negatives. Film industry is a struggle for everyone, they know that no one holds your hand. As a hispanic american, I don't see many hispanics in the industry, and you know what no one gives a damn.

September 29, 2013

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Nick

I just.... your reply really bugs me. It's like saying "don't fight for the underdog" because they're not the only one's struggling. Duh. Excuse us for trying to level the playing field. That doesn't mean we aren't going to take the negatives. We know with more advantages and more opportunities comes more risks and struggles.

I understand what most people are trying to say in these comments about it reflecting sexism that a program specifically for one gender, women or not, exists, but you could say this about every cause worth fighting. This isn't going to HURT men's chances. There will still be just as many men directing and producing films- this just offers similar opportunities to women.

September 29, 2013

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Nick, as a hispanic myself, I definitely give a damn. I'd support any organization that wanted to fund hispanic directors exclusively, as well as all underrepresented filmmakers. There needs to be a more diverse selection of voices in film, otherwise we only hear one side of the story, right?

Nobody's asking for hand holding. Gamechanger is out to exclusively fund female directors in an attempt to show the industry that they can be financially viable. What I think many of those commenting are seeing this as is a white knight riding up on a white horse and saving a distressed female filmmaker because she was crying in a tower. ("Stop crying and save yourself.")

The fact is, women have been working hard in the industry and haven't been making any significant headway with those in charge of writing the checks. There not often enough given a chance to lead as director. And I think they most definitely deserve to have ONE fund geared specifically towards them.

I simply don't see how that could be worth arguing about. How is that detrimental to anyone?

September 29, 2013

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director

But this sexist/misogynist attitude, if it exists, comes from Hollywood, the most notoriously self-avowed anti-sexist/misogynist part of the globe. Wouldn't it be the last place one finds such disgraceful behavior?
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Could there be other reasons why women are underrepresented in this particular field? And wouldn't an any similar investment fund - of which I remain wary on principle - try to find causes for such disparity? For example, while women make less than men in the open market place, there are solid reasons beside the purported "glass ceiling" why that is so (fewer hours worked, fewer technical degrees, etc.) For once, I would like someone to say, "Sure, women in general don't make stupid high budget action movies or juvenile comedies but we think there are other commercial venues for them to show their skills". In that regard, at least, they'd be admitting that they are not angling for jobs that go to Michael Bay, JJ Abrams or Shave Black and that some wage disparity in this instance is to be tolerated. The question is how much and where.

September 30, 2013

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DLD

Are we talking about the same Hollywood here?

October 1, 2013

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director

There are a lot of comments here asking why we should be funding female directors when most consumers don't care who a film's director is, and why women should be getting special treatment for funding Hollywood projects when they are doing better on the indie circuit. The point of Gamechanger is to give EVERYONE an equal opportunity to make the films they want, because currently about half of the pool of potential directors for large scale projects is being overlooked. Opening up opportunities for female directors to create films that can be marketed to a wide audience will mean that there will be a wider selection of films and ideas for everyone. As a young female film student, it is amazing that I might actually have the opportunity to create the SciFi film of my dreams, where as previously it would have been impossible for me to get support and funding for that kind of project.

September 29, 2013

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ab

Statistic is misleading. Not just anyone gets to direct a film at the level they are talking about. Are there that many women starting at the bottom as there are men? From my experience not even close. The entry level jobs, long hours, are mostly taken by men. This is one path to direct. What are the statistics here?

September 29, 2013

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jess

"from my experience" you said, despite the statistics and many others' experiences that about half of film school graduates are females. I personally know more women than men trying to make it into the entertainment business. Don't use anecdote as evidence.

December 4, 2013

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Lexi

Exactly. Is there a way to calculate the numbers of female directors who try and are rejected financing? What if the number of women who try to find financing is only 9% total, compared to whatever the percentage is for men who try?

September 29, 2013

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VinceGortho

This company is focusing on a "niche" underfunded market by targeting women directors. It's not about equality or the consumers. It's about dollars and sense. If 50% of film grads are women and only 7% have directed a top 250-grossing film, then advertising to women to finance their films may be a viable marketing tactic. They are hoping to find and fund the next Kathryn Bigelow or Sofia Coppola, so they can be rich and live happily ever after, lol. I wish them luck with that (even though I'm not a fan of horror or sci-fi).

The only problem that I see is that the women that they are targeting may have wanted to go in a different career path like television. I wonder what the stats are for tv directors.

September 29, 2013

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Jeri

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