By Maria Giese
In 1979, the DGA “Original Six” directors: Susan Bay, Nell Cox, Joelle Dobrow, Dolores Ferraro, Victoria Hochberg and Lynne Littman, unable to land jobs, began assembling statistics.
After a year, the presented a report to the DGA National Executive Secretary, Michael Franklin, who was stunned by the low numbers and implications of unlawful discrimination against women.
Franklin was a labor leader in the old sense, and deeply concerned with discrimination against women members of the DGA. He inspired the Guild’s conscience. He brought the Board and the Guild to a higher level of responsibility and accountability, struggling for a higher vision for all workers.
Franklin, in conjunction with the new DGA Women’s Committee, set up meeting after meeting to encourage production companies to interview women members– all to no avail. After one final attempt, when none of the invited executives showed up for a scheduled meeting, a fed-up Franklin made his historic decision to launch America’s first DGA-led, class-action lawsuit on behalf of women against three major studios in 1983.
By 1995, just 10 years later, the percentage of TV episodes directed by women had risen from 0.5% to 16%. Sixteen percent! This was certainly thanks to the crucial support that Michael Franklin and the DGA leadership provided women Guild members at that time.