Women and minorities are lagging as first-time TV directors with only 18% of those slots going to females and 13% to minorities, according to a five-year study by the Directors Guild of America.
DGA president Paris Barclay — the first African-American to head the guild and the exec producer of “Sons of Anarchy” — said the study shows those making the hiring decisions have not significantly altered their practices in recent years.
“There’s a big opportunity here for those in charge of hiring to make a difference – but they’re not,” he said. “Without change at the entry level – where women and minority directors get their first directing assignment – it’ll be status quo from here to eternity. Every director needs a first shot to break into the business – and what this report reveals is that studios, networks and executive producers need to challenge their own hiring practices and offer talented women and minority directors the same opportunities they are giving white males.”
The period studied covered the 2009-10 through 2013-14 seasons and a total of 479 directors receiving their first assignment in episodic television.
Veteran director Betty Thomas, who’s first VP of the guild and co-chair of its Diversity Task Force, said the data is clear.
“Even when hiring first-timers, the studios and executive producers are making choices that show they don’t actively support diversity hiring,” Thomas said. “First-time TV directors are new to the game and come from all areas of the industry including film school – so why is a woman or minority any less qualified than anybody else? It seems clearer than ever that we need to see different points of view. Most of the industry claims to want a more diversified directing workforce – here’s their chance. It could all start here.”
The DGA also noted that writers made up 28% of the first-time episodic director pool, actors made up 18%, assistant directors/unit production managers comprised 10%, cinematographers/camera operators were 8%, editors totaled 5%, other crew made up 5% and non-writing producers were 1%.