Diversity matters in front of and behind the camera.
There's a cheery sense of irony that a movie called The Old Guard could work so magnificently in breaking that celluloid ceiling so effectively. The movie, which is on Netflix, was viewed by at least 72 million people in its first month. It's one of Netflix's runaway success stories, whose impact goes beyond keeping the streamer atop of the streaming wars.
It also was an incredibly diverse movie that gave opportunities to people who often are overlooked in Hollywood.
The movie was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, who became the first Black woman to direct a Hollywood comic-book-themed movie. The movie was edited by Terilyn A. Shropshire, the first Black woman in that role.
And there were women all over the production.
Its VFX supervisor was Sara Bennett, one of only two women ever to have won an Oscar in VFX, and was shot by cinematographer Tami Reiker (sharing DP duties with Barry Ackroyd), the SFX supervisor was Hayley Williams, and costume designer was Mary Vogt.
Prince-Bythewood told The Hollywood Reporter that such a gender breakdown "doesn't happen, or very rarely happens on any movie, but on an action film, I guarantee you that's never happened before."
Sadly, she's correct.
According to the same article, "In 2019, women made up just 23 percent of editors, 13 percent of directors, 6 percent of visual effects supervisors and 5 percent of cinematographers on the 250 top-grossing films of the year, per San Diego State University's 'Celluloid Ceiling' report in January."
Those are atrocious numbers, and the reason it's like that is many crews overlook hiring diverse points of view. People do not reach out and afford the same opportunity to women as they do to men.
"When you look at the résumés of a lot of really talented women, they are not as long or as extensive as a lot of men in the same position," Prince-Bythewood says. "But I know for a fact that it doesn't have to do with talent, it has to do with opportunity... There are so many women out there who are so good at what they do, but they just haven't gotten the chance. Their being on my crew, being a part of the film, makes the film better."
This goes especially for who gets to sit in the director's chair. Prince-Blythewood said, "I absolutely give out props to Patty Jenkins: Her work on Wonder Woman and just killing it absolutely opened the door a crack, and through that crack Skydance, who has this property of The Old Guard, were very intent on wanting a female director for it."
With the success of The Old Guard, hopefully, more studios and producers diversify their lists. We should hold them accountable as audiences, but as filmmakers, we should hold ourselves accountable when it comes to collaborating with new voices and hiring our crew.
Efforts to diversify behind the camera is going to take a lot more legwork. Check out new resumes, post on social, and fortify your process with new and interesting points of view who can only make a project better.