Because I’m a Woman, An Actor Nearly Died

Some years ago, I was doing second unit work (as a 1st AD) on a Bruce Willis film– lots of stunts and action. We took 15 LAPD officers with us to Oxnard because they couldn’t supply enough police for what we needed to block off.

I had cars, trains, even a ten-car car carrier which we were throwing cars off of. We had 160 extras, Bill Young drivers, and about 15 stunt puppies!

Lots of heavy action.

One day, the 2nd unit director called me in a panic because they were prepping to shoot again, and I wasn’t there. I called the production manager and told him that I’d gotten the panicked call wondering why I wasn’t there.

He replied, “Well, the producer wants a man.”

I actually taped that phone conversation and still have it. The DGA did nothing.

I called the “Qualification List” people and asked how many days (of experience) my male replacement had as a 1st AD. The answer was zero.

So, this is what happened:

It was a light unit, just two people riding bikes in Malibu, but still they managed to drop one of the bicyclists over the edge of the cliff. He must have grabbed a tree or root or something about half way down and was hanging there for quite a while.

No one noticed that one of their two actors was missing.

A teamster happened to see him dangling and radioed that there was someone hanging off the cliff and was that supposed to happen? So the actor was rescued. Finally…

I’m not sure how a male AD with NO experience was a better choice for that job than an experienced woman.

Whenever you do stunt work, no matter how mundane, there is the possibility of someone being injured or killed.

Experience counts in those situations.

By Tommie O’Sullivan

Anecdote: Sex in the Workplace

In a recent meeting of women directors, someone witty suggested that we women directors need a slogan: “No Directing Jobs — No Blow Jobs.”

“NO!” everyone cried out, “We’re trying to end sex in the workplace!”

Maria Giese, a feature director, looked up at us from her laptop: “I’ve always been in favor of sex in the workplace. I’ve just never been able to find a place to work!”

Directing Episodic TV: Impenetrable for Women

The following anecdote comes to us from a very accomplished women director who was awarded a prestigious directing fellowship offered through a joint effort between the Directors Guild of America and a major television studio . Over the course of a year, fellows would be paid to observe on a number of TV shows with the hope of getting assigned an episode at the completion of the program. She writes:

“Two of the women who worked on the (episodic TV show) crew confided to me that I would never get hired because I was a woman, and that the couple of times (the producers) did hire women, they would be ‘set up to fail.’

It is true that a producer who undercuts you can make doing your job very difficult and they can even poison the crew against you. Apparently these crew women had seen through all that.

Funny, I took all this as a challenge. I thought that once the producer understood the kind of person I was, and what I’d done, he might give me a shot. Silly me. The fact is, I’ve encountered very little of this in my career, and the times I did encounter it, I was able to overcome it or power through it. Not this time.

The director I shadowed was neither hostile nor friendly. He talked to me, but it was clear he was not about to ‘mentor’ me in any way. In reality, they hire the same guys over and over to direct their shows, and everyone’s happy with that. It’s one big (or small) boys club. Impenetrable.

The studio’s participation in the DGA-studio diversity program is just window-dressing. And no one — NO one — wants to rock the boat. I HATE to play the ‘woman card,’ but this is one case in which the door was slammed shut so firmly that I was genuinely surprised.

I understand that these shows mean a lot of money to all involved, and that taking chances on new directors of any ilk is a risk in a sense. But still, all I hear from people I know inside the TV world is that the studios are dying for more women directors, and that it should be a cinch for someone with my directing experience to break into it. Apparently not! Crazy.”

International List of Living Women Directors


We’re compiling the most comprehensive list ever of international, living women directors. Please help add names, make corrections & comment!

Our list is all-inclusive, but discretionary: we include women directors of features, experimental films, documentaries, episodic TV, and commercials. The work of the directors must have been commercially released and/or the director must have received notoriety.

Hiam Abbass

Emily Abt
Laurie Agard.
Anne Aghion
Marilyn Agrelo
Chantal Akerman
Desiree Akhavan
Haifaa Al Mansour
Hala Alabdalla
Lexi Alexander
Elizabeth Allen
Debbie Allen
Allison Anders
Urszula Antoniak
Natalia Almada
Raja Amari
Ayten Amin
Jane Anderson
Maya Angelou
Annette Apon
Gillian Armstrong
Andrea Arnold
Lisa Aschan
Katie Aselton

Barbara Atti
Shona Auerbach
Lisa Azuelos
Jamie Babbitt
Yada Badoe
Alison Bagnall
Troy Byer Baily
Lisa Barbash
Neema Barnette
Shirley Barrett
Drew Barrymore
Sophie Barthes
Dianne Bartlow
Christina Beck
Aida Begic
Mary Lou Belli
Zoe Beloff
Jessica Bendinger
Shari Springer Berman
Amy Berg
Natalia Beristain
Amber Bensen
Lisa Biagiotti
Barbara Białowąs
Susan Bier
Kathryn Bigelow
Patricia Birch
Antonia Bird
Jane Birkin
Bobbie Birleffi
Anne-Sophie Birot
Simone Bitton
Anna Boden
Virgina Bogert
Iciar Bollain
Lizzie Borden
Shonali Bose
Hinde Boujemaa
Katrin Bowen
Charlotte Brandstrom
Catherine Breillat
Valerie Breiman
Zabou Breitman
Pietra Brettkelly
Zana Briski

Tracy Lynch Britton
D.G. Brock
Tricia Brock
Rita Broka
Katrina Holden Bronson
Katherine Brooks
Hilary Brougher
Jutta Bruckner
Ann Marie Bryan
Anne Buford
Nanette Burnstein
Rama Burshtein
Gabrielle Burton
Maria Burton
Ursula Burton
Christie Callan-Jones
Domenica Cameron-Scorsese
Rebecca Cammisa
Jane Campion
Caroline Camya
Patricia Cardoso
Niki Caro
Xan Cassavetes
Zoe Cassvetes
Liliana Cavani
Gurinder Chadha
Ilya Chaiken
Judy Chaiken
Mimi Chakarova
Kate Chaplin
Brenda Chapman
Jasmine McGlade Chazelle
Lee Shallat Chemel
Vigil Chime
Lisa Cholondenko
Deborah Chow
Jane Clark
Barrie Cohen
Kat Coiro
Isabel Coixet
Laura Colella
Laura Collyer
Vittoria Colonna
Angela Garcia Combs
Kate Conner
Janice Cooke
Martha Coolidge

Gia Coppola
Sophia Coppola
Heather Courtney
Emma-Kate Croghan
Hanelle Culpepper
Kim Cummings
Aleksandra Czenczek
Cherien Dabis
Ursula Dabrowsky
Holly Dale
Trish Dalton
Tsitsi Dangarembga
Peggy Rogers Daniels
Julie Dash
Nina Davenport
Julie Davis
Tamra Davis
Roxann Dawson
Donna Deitch
Ariana Delawari
Jenny Deller
Julie Delpy
Claire Denis
Drew Denny
Laura Dern
Katherine Dieckmann
Valerie Donzelli
Doris Dorrie
Lena Dunham
Cheryl Dunye
Ava DuVernay
Jennifer Dworkin
Alison Eastwood
Sally El Hosaini
Marty Elcan
Jan Eliasberg
Anne Emond
Heidi Ewing
Jan Eliasberg
Song Fang
Valarie Faris
Vera Farmiga
Linda Fefferman
Rachel Feldman
Shana Feste
Hannah Fidell
Jeanie Finlay
Anne Fletcher
Sheree Folkson
Anne Fontaine
Jodie Foster
Lee Friedlander
Su Friedrich
Zetna Fuentes
Kathleen Gallagher
Maya Gallus
Nisha Ganatra
Liz Garbus
Nicole Garcia
Liz W. Garcia
Karen Gaviola
Jennifer Getzinger
Maria Giese
Sari Gilman
Lesli Linka Glatter
Sandra Goldbacher

Janet Goldwater
Marleen Gorris
Rachel Grady
Debra Granik
Susannah Grant
Lauren Greenfield
Katherine Griffin
Janet Grill
Malgorzata Gryniewicz
Aurora Guerrero
Emily Hagins
Randa Haines
Tamar Halpern
Barbara Hammer
Terri Hanauer
Mia Hansen-Love
Catherine Hardwicke
Danielle Harris
Leslie Harris
Mary Harron
Selma Hayek
Julie Hebert
Amy Heckerling

Chris Hegedus

Robin Hessman
Victoria Hochberg
Joanne Hock
Tamar Simon Hoffs
Agnieszka Holland
Gwenyth Horder-Payton
Nicole Holofcener
Heddy Honigmann
Simone Horrocks
Angelica Huston
Cynthia Hsiung
Emily Hubley
Tatiana Huezo
Bronwen Hughes
Ann Hui
Bonnie Hunt
Courtney Hunt
Helen Hunt
Laura Innes
Debbie Isitt
Julia Ivanova
Annemarie Jacir
Agnes Jaoui
Christine Jeffs
Patty Jenkins
Jamie Jensen
Vicky Jenson
Jae-eun Jeong
Liza Johnson
Hella Joof
Maureen Judge
Miranda July
Deborah Kampmeier
0lga Kałagate
Betty Kaplan
Bess Kargman
Nicole Kassell
Marta Kauffman
Naomi Kawase
Diane Keaton
Dorota Kędzierzawska
Elodie Keene
Elza Kephart
Joanna Kerns
Mayam Keshavarz
Callie Khouri
Beeban Kidron
Lella Kilani
Clare Kilner
So Yong Kim
Alison Klayman
Linda Goldstein Knowlton
Barbara Kopple
Marie Kreutzer
Diane Kurys
Karyn Kusama
Lee Kyoung-mi
Nadine Labaki
Diane Ladd
Aimee Lagos
Christine Lahti
Karen Lam
Mary Lambert
Sara Lamm
Laura Lau
Linda Laundra
Adi Lavy
Clara Law
Mimi Leder
Kasi Lemmons
Roseanne Liang
Leslie Libman
Allison Liddi-Brown
Lynne Littman
Phyllida Lloyd
Julia Lokyev
Małgorzata Łupina
Jennifer Lynch
Shola Lynch
Tina Mabry
Alison Maclean
Maria Maggenti
Victoria Mahoney
Anne Makepeace
Samira Makhmalbaf
Nancy Malone*

Alina Marazzi
Ami Canaan Mann
Kirstin Marcon
Arlene Marechal
Lily Mariye
Penny Marshall
Lucrecia Martel

Maria Matteoli
Darnell Martin
Melissa Martin
Destri Martino
Elaine May
Dominga Soto Mayor
Melanie Mayron
Sharon McGuire
Kate Clere McIntyre
Tawnia Cannell McKiernan
Nancy Meckler
Deepa Mehta
Ursula Meier
Nina Menkes
Anu Menon
Nancy Meyers

Jody Lauren Miller
Rebecca Miller
Maja Miloš
Cecilia Miniucchi
Martha Mitchell
Freida Mock
Julie Moggan
Karen Moncrieff
Mariette Monpierre
Rosario Garcia Montero
Christine Moore
Jocelyn Moorhouse
Carol Morley
Zanele Muholi
Lucy Mulloy
Nadia Munla
Ruba Nadda
Mira Nair
Najwa Najjar
Rola Nashef
Shirin Neshat
Sandra Nettlebeck
Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Galt Niederhoffer
Miwa Nishikawa
Katherine Nolfi
Lynn Nottage
Nisha Pahuja
Marta Pajek
Euzhan Palcy
Nina Paley
Véréna Paravel
Pratibha Parmar
Barbara Peeters
Lucy Massie Phenix
Gabriel Pichler
Kimberly Pierce
Ana Piterbarg
Agnieszka Piotrowska
Sarah Polley
Sally Potter
Lea Pool
Lori Precious
Carrie Preston
Gaylene Preston
Gina Prince-Bythewood
Yvonne Rainer
Lynne Ramsay

Jude Ray
Julie Ann Robinson
Amy Redford
Valarie Red-Horse
Kimberly Reed
Dee Rees
Jan Reesman
Kelly Reichardt
Anne Renton
Rosemary Riddell
Patricia Riggen
Marialy Rivas
Angela Robinson
Julie Ann Robinson
Rosemary Rodriguez
Mariana Rondon
Bethany Rooney
Alison Rose
Lee Rose

Elena Rossini
Dana Rotberg
Alexander Roxo
Patricia Rozema
Ry Russo-Young
Liz Ryan
Maria Sadowska
Dyamila Sahraoui
Susan Saladoff
Zulfah Otto Sallies
Arlene Sanford
Valeria Sarmiento
Barbara Sass
Marjane Satrapi
Nancy Savoca

Hanna Sawka
Lorene Scafaria
Therese Schecter
Lone Scherfig
Celine Sciamma
Kari Skogland
Amber Sealey
Susan Seidelman
Coline Serreau
Millicent Shelton
Kat Shea
Gauri Shinde
Tiffany Shlain

Floria Sigismondi
Joan Micklin Silver
Kate Shortland
Becky Smith
Jill Soloway
Eva Sørhaug
Jen and Silvia Soska

Jane Spencer
Elisabeth Sperling
Penelope Spheeris
Jill Sprecher
Wendy Stanzler
Maya Stark
Jennifer Steinman
Barbara Stepansky
Mora Stephens
Rena Sternfeld
Barbara Streisand
Kris Swanberg
Mary Sweeney
Robin Swicord
Jannicke Systad Jacobsen
Małgorzata Szumowska
Massy Tadjedin
Gabriela Tagliavini
Renee Tajima-Pena
Sophia Takal
Rachel Talalay
Amancay Tapia
Sam Taylor-Wood
Julie Taymor
Betsy Thomas
Betty Thomas
Ondi Timoner
Stacy Title
Janet Tobias

Ilana Trachtman
Rose Troche
Athine Rachel Tsangari
Ann Turner
Guinevere Turner
Nora Twomey
Sima Urale
Sloane U’ren
Isold Uggadottir

Liv Ullmann
Orkide Unsur
Yesim Ustaoglu
Heidi Van Lier
Agnes Varda
Tara Veneruso
Ingrid Veninger
Emilie Verhamme
Sylvie Verheyde
Suju Vijayan
Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Katja von Garnier
Margarethe von Trotta
Michaela von Schweinitz
Lana Wachowski
Cynthia Wade
Rachel Ward
Jennifer Warren
Gillian Wearing
Claudia Weill
Valerie Weiss
Yvonne Welbon
Lina Wertmuller
Jennifer Westfeldt
Tanya Wexler
Anne Wheeler
Susanna White
Mary Wigmore
Chandra Wilson
Juanita Wilson
Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
Kate Woods
Alice Wu
Treva Wurmfeld
Campbell X

Dafna Yachin
Tali Yankelevich
Keren Yedaya
Suzi Yoonessi
Susan Youssef
Jessica Yu
Jennifer Yuh
Marina Zenovich
Ana Zins

New Director’s Guild Survey: Where Are the Women TV Directors?

In an article in the LA Times from September 27th, 2012, a new survey by the Director’s Guild suggests that women directors are underrepresented in TV:

The survey found that out of 190 scripted television series and 3,100 episodes from the 2011-2012 network television season, Caucasian males directed 73% of all episodes (compared with 72% from the prior year). Caucasian females directed 11% of all episodes (unchanged), minority males directed 13% (down from 14%) of all episodes and minority females directed 4% of all episodes (up from 3%).

“Our industry has to do better,” said Paris Barclay, the DGA’s first vice president and co-chair of the diversity task force of the DGA national board. He is also an executive producer of “Sons of Anarchy.”

“In this day and age, it’s quite disappointing that so many shows failed to hire even a single woman or minority director during the course of an entire season — even shows whose cast and crew is notably diverse, Barclay noted. “And, ‘We just don’t know anybody’ doesn’t cut it anymore — the pool of talented and experienced women and minority directors grows every year, and too many of these qualified, capable directors are still overlooked.”

The DGA compiled the statistics for its report based on information provided by the production companies as part of its collective bargaining agreement. The DGA said it had made several changes to its methodology and data collection to improve accuracy. The changes included capturing more DGA-covered episodes and more accurately describing the diversity status of directors whose ethnicity or gender had previously been identified as “unknown.”

Among the DGA’s “Worst of” lists for TV shows – those hiring no women or minority directors or those that hired them for less than 15% of episodes — were “Dallas,” “Leverage,” “CSI:Crime Scene Investigation” and “The Office.”

DGA’s “Best of” list — shows that hired women or minority directors for at least 30% of episodes — included “The Game,” “Nurse Jackie” and “The Walking Dead.”

“They Would Prefer a Male Director”

Bias against women in most fields of film production is borne out by the stark statistics – 5% of feature film directors are female as opposed to 95% males; among screenwriters the numbers of women continue to drop.  A negative perception of films with female leads is also perpetrated by a male-driven industry. I’ve spent the last 5 years taking meetings at Cannes and have repeatedly, on an international level, been reminded how this industry does not believe women in front of the camera sell tickets.

However, since I self-produce my own work, I hadn’t really gotten a direct taste of the gender issue until this past 2012 Cannes Film Festival & Market.  At the 2011 Cannes I had met with, and then re-met twice at the same market, two producers with a women-driven film concept:

The story told of four girls who row across the Atlantic in a rowboat, and the fallout that occurs when certain truths are revealed.  The producers loved the footage from my recently shot film, METH HEAD, and they were very proactive about wanting to stay in touch, share their eventual script etc…

We wrote back and forth a few times during the year. They had lost their screenwriter, which had set them back. So I wasn’t surprised not to have a script to read to discuss. However, I did imagine we would at least meet and keep the conversation going in 2012. It appeared I was wrong. I couldn’t get them to respond to an e-mail request for a meeting. I thought it strange, but projects come and go, so I didn’t dwell on it.

Then I ran into one of the producers at a party. And she said how sorry she was they hadn’t responded, but that their sales agent, who was also partially funding their project, had told them flat-out that they would prefer a male director. In her words, women directors don’t sell either. And as quick as that, I was out of the running.

I realize that the sales agent was probably the tip of the iceberg and it is frustrating, but having a healthy dose of reality never hurts either. Ignorance like that just makes me that more determined to succeed.  So I guess I should just say: “Thank you.”

– Jane Clark,

Women Execs Need to Hire Women


“Sorry boys, you gotta hire at least one woman director this season! It’s the law!”

By Anonymous

I worked at a production company last year, and when I suggested to the (female) head that she might want to add some women to a director list, she said it would be too much of a struggle.

It’s so tragic that Hollywood pushes so hard against equal hiring practices in this day and age.  Sad when even a woman won’t include other women on a tentative “ideas list.”  I hope I’m able to hire more women directors as I work on beginning my own producing career.