NYWIFT ON MOVING FORWARD: Focus on TV Directors

Recently, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) made a call to action to hire more new women and minority TV directors in an effort to level the playing field within the industry.

This call subsequently came weeks after the DGA revealed their latest Six-Year Study which showed 82% out of 611 new TV directors were male and only 18% were women, while 86% were Caucasian leaving only 14% who were minority TV directors.

Figure 1 – from DGA Study

DGA President Paris Barclay is challenging the industry to increase diversity and putting pressure on hiring goals, in his statement Barclay said, “It may sound revolutionary, but those with the power to hire may want to consider bringing in more directors – people who are committed to directing as a career – instead of approaching the assignment as a perk.”

Let’s look closely at those numbers again:

·      110 out of 611 new TV directors hired within past six years were women.

·      83 out of 611 new TV directors hired within past six years were minority directors.

Those statistics certainly hit home with the members of New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT). Executive Director Terry Lawler agrees with the DGA’s challenge to the industry and thinks this is a good idea: “Showrunners and executives are overwhelmingly white and male, and most of them simply hire other white men for their whole careers. We need to put pressure on the industry, through legal action, boycotts, what ever tools we have, to force it to be more equitable.”

Legal action might just be the very next step and the television industry should take heed after the ACLU sent a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requesting a thorough investigation on the systemic discrimination against women directors in Hollywood.

Women and Hollywood recently reported that the next steps into this examination have begun as the EEOC will begin meeting with women directors to discuss discrimination within the infrastructure of the film and television industries.

Figure 2 – Courtesy of NYWIFT

Among the nearly 2,000 NYWIFT members, approximately 35% of the directors appear to have film projects while only 3% have episodic TV projects under their belt. This could stem from various reasons; however, these numbers do seem to correlate with the low percentage of new women hired to direct episodic TV.

Annetta Marion, documentary television director and showrunner (Oprah’s Master Class) and NYWIFT Board Member, applauds Paris Barclay for his courage in spelling it out. “Focusing on the entry point makes tons of sense to me.”

Marion goes on to say, “there are lots of examples of extraordinary women making it in the entertainment industry and that’s great. But I think the goal should be leveling out the playing field so that the average woman can get as far as the average man, where it ends up being just smarts and talent determining how far anyone goes.”

Today, at the Hamptons International Film Festival, NYWIFT will be holding a Women Calling The Shots Showcase and Women’s Brunch. In addition, they will announce the winner of the Ravenal Foundation Grant (for women second-time feature film directors over 40). Later this month, at the New York Television Festival, NWIFT will present a Platinum Membership prize to a female writer/ creator. Also, on October 28th NYWIFT will present a special panel on Starting Your Own Production Company.

Moving forward

The industry needs to change, and these statistics show visible proof of discrimination. NYWIFT continues to produce more panel discussions, workshops, labs and grants to help move women forward. The hiring of more new women directors is needed ASAP and as a reminder, New York Women in Film & Television has a large membership with enough resources to staff your next project fairly.

To find out more about working with NYWIFT members on your next project, please contact membership@nywift.org or call us at 212.679.0870

-By NYWIFT Members

CONTRIBUTING CREDITS:

Deadline Hollywood, Directors Guild of America, Variety, Women and Hollywood, NYWIFT

Terry Lawler, @tlawler

Annetta Marion, @AnnettaLM

Destiny Lily, @Destiny_Casting

Margarita Sophia Cortes, @BKprgal

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