September 23, 2007

Robin Swicord and Women Directors at Toronto

Robin Swicord on The Jane Austen Book Club: Robin Swicord is the writer and director of the new film The Jane Austen Book Club. She talks about being one of a relatively few female directors in Hollywood — and what it's like to make the transition from screenwriter to director.

"Anytime a woman makes a movie with a female protagonist you run the risk of having people call it a chick flick. it's a way of marginalizing women."
Listen: Filming the Jane Austen Book Club

Missed this article on the directing gender gap published during the Toronto Film Festival. For those who follow this issue closely, the arguments here are familiar and are written at least once a year by some reporter somewhere. The more important question to ask is when will someone actually do something about it?

Some choice quotes:

"Screenwriter, producer and director Robin Swicord has been a player in the movie business a lot longer than her list of credits would suggest. "I can't really believe it really happened," she says of The Jane Austen Book Club, the first film to bear her name as director, "especially considering that there have been so many films I've tried to get made for a long time."

"Now in her 50s, Swicord has written many more screenplays than those that got made (including Little Women, The Perez Family, Memoirs of a Geisha and Matilda). She was paid for them, but that's not the point. "You're writing in order to make a film."

"She likens the usual course for a screen project to "pushing a rock up the hill, pushing it up the hill and (the movie) either never gets made, or 20 years later someone else makes it."


"Further analysis uncovered a complex set of obstacles for women: as writers and directors, they don't tend to get agents easily, possibly because agents tend to pick those candidates with the best career options.


"What will finally change things for women in the big studios, suggests television and film professor Martha Lauzen, who conducts the annual survey of women directors and writers at San Diego State University, is a different view in the marketing departments where green-lighting decisions are made.

"I don't think the female audience in film or television has been valued by the powers that be. The assumption is that women will watch male-driven stories as well as men, but men will only watch male-driven stories. I think that's a bit of wishful thinking, but I think that's why there haven't been as many female-driven stories."

Women on Top of Film World