The long established paucity of women directors in Hollywood has not only led to a federal investigation into gender discrimination, at the behest of the A.C.L.U., it has also spurred one of the industry’s most important groups to take aim at the discrepancy – and take studios to task for failing to effect change.
On Wednesday, the Directors Guild of America, which has a membership of 16,000, released a study showing that 6.4 percent of the 376 features released in 2013 and 2014 were directed by women and 12.5 percent were from minority directors.
It also looked at films released by the six major studios and five “mini-majors,” and tabulated the percentage of women and minority hires made by each over two years.
Of the bunch, Lionsgate came out on top: It hired the highest percentage of female filmmakers – they accounted for 9 percent of the company’s 2013-14 films – while male minority directors accounted for 32 percent of directors for Lionsgate films.
During the same time period, 80 films in all were released by Disney, Warner Brothers, Open Road and the Weinstein Company — none directed by women. All had hired minority male directors, in relatively low numbers, with the exception of Open Road (producer of this season’s Oscar favorite, “Spotlight”).
“What this report does not reflect is what people who love film – even our culture as a whole – are missing when such a disproportionate percentage of films are directed by one gender or one ethnicity,” the guild’s president, Paris Barclay, said in a release accompanying the report. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a metric for that. What you will see is what happens when industry employers — studios and production companies — do little to address this issue head on.”
By releasing the report – its first on the matter – the guild is clearly trying to deflect criticism from the A.C.L.U. that it had done little to promote increased hiring of women directors. The guild’s leadership has also denied the A.C.L.U.’s claim that it provides short lists suggesting directors to production companies, and that those lists rarely include women.
By Cara Buckley