Data 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 Said, which 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?