Geena Davis Producing Documentary on Hollywood’s Gender Inequality (EXCLUSIVE)

Geena Davis gender inequality documentary
Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Geena Davis and CreativeChaos vmg are launching a partnership to produce an untitled feature documentary on gender disparity in Hollywood.

“I’ve been encouraged by my peers speaking out on gender disparity in recent years, but we still are not seeing the actual number change,” Davis told Variety. “There’s been no real improvement in the number of female roles since 1946 and there’s still a dearth of female directors.”

Tom Donahue, director of the HBO feature documentary “Casting By,” will helm the film.

The story will be told through the eyes of experts and researchers using data provided by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, as well as first-person accounts of high-profile actors, executives and artists in the field. Its goal is to take a systemic look at unconscious bias and provide a roadmap for solutions to act as a catalyst for change.


Susan Sarandon Geena Davis

Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon on How to Reach Gender Balance in Movies and TV

Davis noted that two of her films from the early 1990s — “Thelma and Louise” and “A League of Their Own” — were heralded as the harbingers of a shift toward gender equality in terms of female-oriented projects, yet turned out to have little impact on actual practices.

“The same thing happened when ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Sex and the City’ opened during the same summer and again when ‘The Hunger Games’ opened,” she added. “There’s a need for Hollywood to recognize that it’s operating with an unconscious bias.”

In partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the film is being produced in association with the Artemis Rising Foundation, founded by producer Regina K. Scully. Artemis Rising has credits on “Anita Hill,” “Miss Representation,” “Invisible War,” “Hunting Ground,” and “Fed Up.”

“I’m thrilled to be partnering with Tom Donahue and Regina Scully,” Davis said. “I’ve been working directly with content creators behind-the-scenes for nearly 10 years. This documentary will allow us to share what has worked and highlight our successes and impact on the industry.”

CreativeChaos vmg was founded in 2010 by Donahue, Ilan Arboleda and Steve Edwards. The company’s projects include “Casting By,” the documentary “Thank You for Your Service”; “Santiago Calatrava,” a documentary on the world-renowned architect; and Donahue’s “A Very Good Year.”

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  1. jonnyrp says:

    I wish she’ll discuss about the fact that some women seem to be paid way more than their male co-stars in some areas (Indie films for instance) to appear less in it. Just like Jennifer Lawrence was given an Oscar and still found something to complain about, Dicaprio did the same but i’m not surprised. The Oscars have become that type of show where anything is good to promote. Even when the recipients aren’t happy.

    If climat change is so important to them, they should say it clearly but throw their statue in the crowd. They’re congratulated with the higher price the industry has to offer after all but are still unhappy.

    I’ve seen indie films where talented actresses that i follow and love even though the industry don’t recognize their talent anymore were clearly paid than their male co-stars for a 15-20 minutes appareance. And they were given the credit as the biggest name of the movie. Ok, maybe they are, but they still aren’t the lead. And i support these women since i think that, as long as christian dumbasses like Lawrence that seem to ignore who’s done the most for Hollywood in terms of acting, remains paid a huge amount of money, but not as much as some men that work way less, certain women have the right to ask for a higher pay than the male stars of the same rank films. That’s what equality is about.

    If Black people complained that they were underepresented at last Oscars there’s a reason. The roles they played weren’t the type of roles that you nominate Black people for. If my history lesson on the Oscars is still right and up to date, it is also not happening that a protester will be allowed to win if he/she plays a bad guy/girl.

    They should stop this kind of discrimination with everyone, but the image you project is all that matters to the moguls.

  2. Linda says:

    Tom wasn’t hired for the film, he and one of the female producers developed the idea and brought the project to Geena. It doesn’t state it in the article but that’s how it was developed and I’m glad there’s a male director out there who cares enough about the issue to not only get this project off the ground, but get someone as incredible as Geena involved. We should be seeing her discuss the origins of this film soon and I think it will clear a lot of things up.

  3. Kudos to Geena for continuing to aggressively take on these issues – she’s incredible – but I too am confused by the choice of a male director for this project. I’m currently directing and producing a feature length doc about women directors in Hollywood and the ongoing EEOC investigation into discriminatory hiring practices called HALF THE PICTURE and have been honored to interview Catherine Hardwicke, Miranda July, Lynn Shelton, Kimberly Peirce, Karyn Kusama, Jen McGowan, Rachel Feldman, Maggie Greenwald, Penelope Spheeris, Maria Burton, Caroline Libresco, Tina Mabry, Mary Harron, Daisy von Scherler Mayer, Maria Giese, Jennifer Warren and the LA Times’ Rebecca Keegan – with many more interviews on the way. Any support you’d like to offer a woman filmmaker taking on these issues would be greatly appreciated! Like our Facebook page and spread the word. As we continue making our film, we’d be grateful for your support. Amy Adrion, Director/Producer HALF THE PICTURE

  4. sam says:

    Is this for real? It reads like an article out of The Onion! As quoted from Geena Davis: “There’s been no real improvement in the number of female roles since 1946 and there’s still a dearth of female directors.”

    The very next sentence….

    “A male director has been hired to helm the film.” (essentially)

    Obviously reporter Dave McNary sees the irony here. Thanks for reporting it so clearly, Dave. Unfortunately the producers of this project failed to recognize this slight issue in congruency between message and action. If you really want to take a stand against the disparaging inequalities in gender opportunities in the media, than maybe you should consider that your own actions set the greatest example.

    But, you know, if we go ahead and fix the problem, what will we have left to complain about?

  5. Is this a joke?, why wouldn’t they (Geena) hire a female director for this? The statistics for female directors are truly archaic. Think 1950’s and the fight for equal status and pay is just beginning. Directors UK did a recent survey that showed that there is a 95/5% split favoring men as directors for drama, including a large pay disparity. It was jaw dropping and led to myself and other female directors to take action to address the issue. So, I did this: Training young female directors who would never get a shot at it otherwise. Documentary in the UK was much better, but the US is lagging behind on this front too, as I am US based and female, it makes me so cross!. No insult to a talented male director, but surely, this engenders (!) the very problem. Wake up call needed here!

  6. PartoftheProblem says:

    Definitely a little tone deaf not to hire women to make this film…

  7. Dtrumpf says:

    So a documentary about gender inequality being produced by a woman hires a male director. I wonder if the film will discuss all the female executives in Hollywood (with power) who don’t hire female directors but yet complain about inequality. What a joke. I agree there is inequality in hollywood with woman and minorities but maybe some women contribute to the problem.

  8. Madonna Ciccone-Ritchie says:

    Why not a female director like Barbara Kopple for this project? Just sayin’.

    • jonnyrp says:

      I totally agree. Females have earned the power they have, but seem to lie about, pretending that they don’t have it. They earned it as much as men. But there are certain criterias to pass if you wish to be nominated at the oscars for instance. It’s not like a Jewish actor/actress has won or been nominated at the Oscars by playing a bad Guy/girl as much as Protesters always seem to have but it’s a kind of discrimination that they never seem to examinate in the entertainment industry.

      Women have earned their power and respect in Hollywood. But they should start to recognize the women actresses who did it from the start instead of forgetting about their names and leaving it under the ground when the industry isn’t fond about the role they played. i.e: Ed Norton was a great performer and was nominated twice for playing bad guys. Once a racist in American History X. He was with Helena Bonham Carter in Fight Club and with Fairuza Balk in AHX. But it’s not like you nominate these ladies for playing these type of roles even if their performance would have been better, stellar. And i truly doubt that any of the 2 would have a problem with black people, christians or jewish people.

  9. Thomas says:

    I think Tom Donahue is a great director but fact is there are also tons of great Women Directors out there who would have been an excellent choice and a smart statement for this project.

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