“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, filmmcqueen.com

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