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.”

“Don’t Send Me Someone I Wouldn’t Want To F__k”

A friend of mine who is a member of the DGA and the WGA told me that she took part in a guild diversity incentive program that sounded wonderful. A group of prime time TV executives had finally agreed to meet women guild members who were qualified to direct, but who were having trouble getting jobs. My friend’s agent wasted no time in setting her up with h er first meeting on a major, 1-hour episodic TV show. The meeting went well.

Later, however, when she called her agent to find out what the executive’s feedback was, her agent told her to sit down and not over-react. “What did he say?” my friend asked. “He said don’t ever, ever again send me someone I wouldn’t wanna f__k.” My friend never reported the incident– except to friends like me.