October 13, 2014

Director of Photography Christopher Doyle: 'We Need More Women Behind the Camera'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsNfDknuwug

We've shared a number of Christopher Doyle videos over the last year or so, though I think this one from Cinefii's Bite Size Dailies gets more relevant every day, especially as other industries (namely video games if you've been following that news), struggle to deal with this issue. We've had some high profile female directors like Lexi Alexander talking about it, and we've certainly brought it up a number of times, but if you don't think the number of women working in film is an issue, take a look at the horribly depressing statistics in this post. And the stats are just as bad for people of color (and worst of all for women of color). 

While it may or may not be a sign of progress, for the second weekend in a row, an original adult drama/thriller, and not a comic book movie or sequel, has led the box office. Gone Girl may be directed by one of the more famous male directors, but its source material and script are both written by a woman, Gillian Flynn. 

We've gotten flak from some people for pushing this topic, but I've made my opinions on it pretty clear, and our editor V has done a tremendous job covering it. Like any problem, the only real solution is to do it. If we consciously hire more women (and people of color) in front of and behind the camera, there is no doubt the medium will have an even brighter future. There are some terrific organizations out there that offer grants for women filmmakers, like Chicken & Egg and Digital Bolex, and a million more I'm probably forgetting, so there are plenty of people trying to change the landscape for the better. If you haven't taken a look, I strongly encourage reading Lexi's post, as it addresses the topic better than any of us could.     

Your Comment

27 Comments

I think like any artform, if all of the work is coming from a narrow section of society, the artform itself will suffer. I think it's important to hear from a variety of voices. The nature of film work, with the unsociable hours and time away from home suggests that we're probably never going to have as many female directors as males, but it definitely seems to be improving. When I was in university, I could count the number of female directors I'd heard of on less than one hand. Now there are plenty more. I think TV might be a more likely area of progress though, because lots of shows have a fixed location and regular hours. Scriptwriting too, because it's so flexible.

As for minorities, well let's face it, filmmaking is harder to break into for anyone who can't afford to move to a big city and fund themselves on irregular work while they build up a portfolio to show people. If you can get a bit of help from family, it always makes things easier in any industry, but film and TV are one of the worst for expecting people to work for "experience" rather than money. That inevitably cuts off huge swathes of society. Huge swathes that often have the most interesting stories to tell.

I think scriptwriting would probably be the most beneficial area to start with if you want to encourage people from different backgrounds to get involved, because it's the one thing that requires no money to do. But it does require knowledge of the industry to actually get your stuff read, and a lot of people simply have no clue where to start.

October 13, 2014 at 10:14AM

5
Reply

"The nature of film work, with the unsociable hours and time away from home suggests that we're probably never going to have as many female directors as males."

Because women have a responsiblity at home but men do not?

I'm sorry to see that your attempt to be an ally just outed you as a bigot. It's not entirely your fault though, these are valued imbued on you by our culture. I was there too. But it is important to recognize this and grow passed it.

March 9, 2015 at 1:56AM

0
Reply
avatar
Kory Gasser
Filmmaker
244

I can't agree more, we need more woman in the industry, we need more ways to challenge each other to create truly beautiful art. With the ease of today's tools to create movies, I hope this will help inspire more women to jump right in, rather then having to go through the studio system which can be biased against them.

October 13, 2014 at 12:13PM

0
Reply
Gvickie Xiong
Editor/Cinematographer/Director
824

How about just more talented PEOPLE? Why the push for more of X demographic, when it should simply be more talent, less nepotism? Not that you can ever get rid of nepotism. Its the nature of the beast.

October 13, 2014 at 1:28PM, Edited October 13, 1:28PM

0
Reply
avatar
Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
1034

Because people from a variety of backgrounds create a bigger variety of stories and viewpoints. But also the fact that there aren't the same numbers of each gender/race/sexuality in particular industries is usually a symptom of a more serious problem, be it sexism, racism, nepotism, expecting people to work for nothing, etc. It's not specifically about getting more women into filmmaker roles, it's about seeing if there's anything in the status quo that acts as a barrier to them, and doing out best to remove it. The exact point is that the "more talented people" aren't necessarily getting the opportunities, because they happen to be female, black, from a poor family, etc.

October 13, 2014 at 2:07PM

0
Reply

I agree. Saying we need more of "x group" is still looking at things with a filter... it's still sexism or racism. These statements like this one are nothing more than "hot air" made by people looking to score social validation points.

The real problems are when we see actual rational posts, like yours, preaching PEOPLE... not GROUPS, getting the most down-voted, while spiteful and envious statements about replacing one group with another... simply because one demographic isn't there... are lauded.

People don't want "equality" they want "justice". They want things taken from "Y" and given to "X", simply because "Y" doesn't have them. This mindset is like a plague on our generation. And it WILL end up ruining industries... because not all people are good at all things, or want to pursue the same things.

But, like Josh is saying, nepotism is the real problem...

October 13, 2014 at 3:54PM

0
Reply

If Christopher Doyle really want to get more women behind the camera... then he should put his money where his mouth is... and find some girls on vimeo or filmschools and start apprenticing them into the Cinematographers Guild. Why is he not doing this? What is really the problem? Why is it always "other people" that need to take action and not the ones "preaching"?

October 13, 2014 at 3:59PM

9
Reply

How do you know he doesn't? But cinematographers aren't exactly known for having the sort of wealth that they can finance a feature film with, so there's only a limited amount one person can really do.

October 13, 2014 at 11:44PM

6
Reply

Is there some nefarious people trying to keep women out of film? I really doubt it. There are some fantastic female directors and writers. Just less of them. SO WHAT!!!

This reminds me of the new "problem" with not enough women in tech. Never knew not having very many of X was ever an issue if not many from X actually were interested or studied the subject. Trying to get more females interested in coding is fine. Saying its a "problem" is NOT fine. Saying there aren't enough women in film, is like saying there aren't enough male pre-K teachers. Not many guys generally teach 3 and 4 yr olds. Is it a problem or just the nature of that particular discipline?

October 13, 2014 at 5:22PM

0
Reply
avatar
Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
1034

"it's still sexism or racism"

no it isn't. the problem is sexism and racism. women and POC are underrepresented grossly in this industry (and basically every other one too)

"They want things taken from "Y" and given to "X", simply because "Y" doesn't have them"

we don't want to replace all the white men with women and POC, we want to INCLUDE them and hear/see points of view from more than just white dudes who went to film school.

"This mindset is like a plague on our generation. And it WILL end up ruining industries..."

The plague is racism and sexism. Sure, unless more film industry jobs are created, adding jobs for women and POC would mean less jobs for the old white dudes who run the industry. That's only a problem for the ones who are in the industry because they are on the privileged end of this bigotry, not because they are talented or have something of value to add.

p.s. I'm white, I'm straight, I'm male. I want to succeed as a filmmaker on my own merits and I want every other demographic of people to have the same chance.

March 9, 2015 at 1:52AM

0
Reply
avatar
Kory Gasser
Filmmaker
244

That boy looks like Tommy Lee Jones on a bad hair day!

October 13, 2014 at 9:04PM

0
Reply
avatar
David West
Filmmaker
962

Thanks for posting this, and pushing it. When I read, "We've gotten flak... " I laughed and shook my head. I was just talking about this today as some one asked me about my career, and still even this year, I had to deal with "bad men" in my job having the most amazingly difficult time receiving knowledge from me as we were 2 DPs on a large show sharing the creatives and technical. People ask me "does that really still happen??" as if I am making it up... it just happened on your show! haha! All I have surrendered to do in my career is keep moving forward, and let the bad ones roll away while focusing on craft as a cinematograhper. And also, push the topic to the powers that be who hold the budgets and make them make sure they are distributing to female created/shot content as well. This is such a long conversation... though I am committed to keep having it until I am satisfied with the change I want to see for all of us.

October 13, 2014 at 11:33PM

0
Reply

If some guy is treating you badly on the job, it might be because he is just generally a douchebag. It might not have anything to do with that you are a woman. I mean what you describe sounds just like what men also experience: the other guy is just an ass who wants to look better than you and not share anything.

December 12, 2014 at 8:16AM

0
Reply

Sorry, but this buzz feed that's been going on about needing more women in film sounds good but, yes we need MORE people of color in Hollywood, but when it comes to just women, it's a moot point. Not a big fan of most of the "WOMEN" directors out there. And I've seen ALOT of women's work. Trust me. Lynn Ramsey is great. One of my favorite directors. Kathryn Bigelow isn't bad. But let's talk Jane Campion: She's innovative but her director sense is odd and body obsessed and almost always, always always has to do with sordid, romantic RELATIONSHIPS. Guess what: most American women directors seem to follow this strange tableau - body obsessed, and relationship driven. Most of them are terrible. Not too pc is it? This time pc has to be thrown out the window. STOP WITH THIS SILLY "NEED WOMEN DIRECTORS" AGENDA.

October 14, 2014 at 2:59AM

5
Reply
kale
74

"Most American women directors seem to follow this strange tableau - body obsessed and relationship driven."

Aren't you describing every film ever made by anyone since the beginning of cinematic time?

October 14, 2014 at 11:24PM

0
Reply
avatar
V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Actually, he's right. Most films have those components but many female filmmakers tend to make it the complete focus of their films. I think most female directors need to take more risks with story development and execution in order to appeal to a broad audience.

October 16, 2014 at 6:58PM, Edited October 16, 6:58PM

0
Reply
Oriel Kerr
filmmaker, screenwriter, animator, illustrator
147

So kale, you mentioned ONE female director you don't like, how many male directors don't you like?

"And I've seen ALOT of women's work"

The point is, statistically you have seen WAY MORE films by white men (I mean way way way more. click the link for the statistics in the article) and it isn't because women and POC aren't interested. It is because they are being kept out due to bias and sexism and racism. Of course, most people don't ever think that they are sexist or racist, but these views are ingrained in people by the culture. It's systematic and institutional and it has a very very real effect on people and the industry.

Also your criticism of topic is so pointless and irrelevant. People make movies based on issues that are important to them. Body issues are important to women. If 85% (i'm making that number up but i'd be willing to bet i'm not far off) of the images you have seen representing the male body were unreal unobtainable cartoons of masculinity, and you were taught that the greatest (only) value you have as a human being was how attractive and fuckable you are, you would have body issues too.

Men have our own issues too, like our masculinity, which is taught to be the dominate hero money making alpha male who protects his family and freedom, which is why we get all these shitty action movies.

Personally I'd rather see a sensitive honest portrayal of what it is like to be a woman in this day an age, because I can't even imagine.

March 9, 2015 at 2:17AM

10
Reply
avatar
Kory Gasser
Filmmaker
244

You won't see a noticeable increase of females in certain jobs because they simply do not appeal to women. Compare the numbers of women in currently in careers involving the combination of physical labor, high stress and technical skill, and those numbers have only had miniscule increases since the labor market was flooded with women in the 1970's. Careers involving something other than an office work in climate controlled environment with static hours and a predictable pay structure will always be a tough sell to the ladies.

October 14, 2014 at 2:27PM

6
Reply
Marc B
Shooter & Editor
526

Seriously, dude? Sounds like you're living in the genteel '90s. I mean the 1890s, when missy couldn't worry her pretty little head over things.

October 14, 2014 at 8:56PM

0
Reply
Charlie K
1403

So in your reality, most women really want to become construction workers, but they can't because the bad men are pushing them out of the business?

December 12, 2014 at 8:19AM

0
Reply

Need is such a strong word. There is nothing stopping women from doing the same things men do. All that's need is great stories and characters. Stop with all the "need more women" fluff!

October 14, 2014 at 6:26PM, Edited October 14, 6:26PM

0
Reply

I think we need more Aborigines and Yanomama people behind the camera because, you know, underrepresented and so on...

October 15, 2014 at 10:02AM

0
Reply
Gerard M.
1149

Thanks for your words.

October 15, 2014 at 11:41AM

12
Reply
avatar
Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7575

October 16, 2014 at 10:45PM

0
Reply

In my experience, not a lot of women are interested in becoming a camerawoman. I know a lot of girls who have the talent for it: if you give them a camera they know how to shoot well, but they all work as editors.
So, saying "we need more women here and there" is a bit silly because you cannot force women to be a camerawoman (or a gaffer or a dolly grip).

btw... do we need more women dolly grips, too? And if not, why not? Do we only need more women in the supposedly "better" jobs like dop? And why does nobody care that almost all set electricians are male? Because electrician is not a cool job?

December 12, 2014 at 8:04AM

0
Reply

Because it's about representation and perspective in art. You see a cinematographer's perspective, director, editor, screenwriter. You don't see that in the more technical jobs, yes more women in all film related roles in general would be great but that's not really the point of the article, is it? And I suppose it's just really hard for guys to see this but women face daily scrutiny and sexism when they take on roles that traditionally have gone to men. That's across industries. So it's not a lack of desire to do it, it's a lack of acceptance and extra roadblocks to an already challenging job that can be a deterrent.

March 9, 2015 at 12:12AM

0
Reply
mindy
74

I can't believe the disgusting amount of sexist backlash and straw men arguments I'm seeing here. Really disappointing.

Please keep posting more stuff like this! You may not change the minds of the old bigoted white males in the industry but you can inspire young women and people of color to take a chance in this industry if they desire!

And the young women and POC will be the ones that are still alive in 20 years.

March 9, 2015 at 2:22AM, Edited March 9, 2:22AM

0
Reply
avatar
Kory Gasser
Filmmaker
244