You would think that the film industry would have progressed far enough by 2009 that a woman would have won an Academy Award for directing by then.
The first time a woman won an Academy Award for Best Director was five years ago. Considering movies have existed for more than a century, this is just another example of how close yet how far we really are from gender equality.
Kathryn Bigelow, Oscar winner for her direction of “The Hurt Locker,” was the first woman to win the director’s category in film history. Before her, there had only been three other females nominated for directing a feature film. Would you like to take a guess at how many women have won for cinematography? That number is zero, which also happens to be the same amount of how many have even been nominated in that category.
Where are all the women in filmmaking? Possibly editing. In fact, women were the primary editors in the film world up until movies became talking pictures. More men took up the job of the invisible art of editing because the process became more important and was no longer a background job.
Up to that point, the job of editing was seen as a sort of busy, domestic work, like knitting or cross stitching. I personally can’t sit in one spot long enough to effectively edit more than a three-minute video, so the fact that anyone, man or woman, could edit an entire movie every single day for a career then or now is fascinating.
In a study done in 2013 by Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, it was assessed that 11,197 filmmakers had movies shown in Sundance from 2002-2012. Only 29.8 percent of those filmmakers were female. Of those women, 13.7 percent of them fell under the category of “Not getting hired because they are women” during some point in their career.
The numbers are low, and there’s no denying. According to the study, the ratio of male to female directors is 15.24 to 1. That’s kind of a lot.
As a female who wants to be a cinematographer and eventual director, these little bits of information are daunting. Not that the only thing that matters is an Academy Award, but — well, yeah. That is actually what matters. Or any awards. I think recognition for anything I create is nearly half the reason I create it. We’re all a little bit narcissistic and want the credit for the great things we do.
Loving what I do will always be the most important thing, but what is the point of women loving the films that they help to create if they are rarely recognized for them? Women in the film business are doing great things. They’re fighting to get to the top with those 15.24 males surrounding them who have all been in the driver’s seat for more than a century.
I want to make beautiful movies, and I want to win an Academy Award someday. I’d love to be known as the first woman to win best cinematography, but I would love it more if women would win more often and preferably sooner than when I reach that level.