×

Feature Film Director Diversity Remains Low, Directors Guild Reports

Diversity among feature film directors remained disappointingly low in 2017, the Directors Guild of America has reported in a new study.

The results, released Thursday, show the difficulty faced in achieving gains in increasing the numbers of female directors — in spite of the strong box office of Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” and the awards recognition for Dee Rees on “Mudbound” and Greta Gerwig on “Lady Bird.”

The DGA said it examined an expanded data set for the 651 feature films that were released theatrically in the U.S. last year, including those that earned less than $250,000 at the box office. It noted that even though the data included hundreds of micro-budget projects with limited releases, women only accounted for 16% of directors. Of those features with a box office total of at least $250,000, only 12% of the directors were women and 10% were people of color

“It’s outrageous that we’re once again seeing such a lack of opportunity for women and people of color to direct feature films,” said DGA president Thomas Schlamme. “Our new study shows that discriminatory practices are still rampant across every corner of the feature film business. These numbers hit home how the chips are stacked against women and people of color.”

Schlamme said that DGA researchers were attempting to isolate areas that were bright spots or especially problematic.

“But as we kept going, it became clear that no matter how you slice the 2017 numbers, the outcome is virtually the same,” he added. “There is a misconception that things are better in the smaller, indie film world, but that’s simply not the case. From financing and hiring, to distribution and agent representation — every aspect of the entire system disadvantages women and people of color.”

The numbers for women directors increased in 2017 from 13 to 22 for the 175 films with box office over $250,000. But the number of minority directors for the 145 DGA signatory films last year with box office over $250,000 slid from 21 to 14.

“Change is long overdue,” continued Schlamme. “Inclusion is a fight we’ve been fighting with the industry for four decades now, and it’s been an uphill battle to get them to change their hiring practices. In our two most recent negotiations, we pushed for the industry to adopt the Rooney Rule into their hiring practices, but they wouldn’t budge on the issue. Neither will we — we are committed to keeping at this for as long as it takes.”

The “Rooney Rule” is part of the National Football League’s policies and requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coach and other senior jobs.

More Film

  • Mother and son bonding in Wayne

    Wayne Wang’s ‘Coming Home Again’ to be Handled by Asian Shadows (EXCLUSIVE)

    Specialty film sales agent Asian Shadows has picked up international rights to “Coming Home Again,” by Wayne Wang, one of Asia’s most celebrated directors. The film, which tackles food, family and mortality, will premiere as a special presentation at the Toronto festival in September. Based on a short story of the same name, published in [...]

  • The Great Hack (2019) - pictured:

    Film Review: 'The Great Hack'

    When I was growing up, we learned that the moral cornerstone of the First Amendment — the very essence of it — is that it’s about protecting the speech you don’t like. If the Nazis aren’t allowed to march in Skokie (a major test case in the 1970s), then a treacherous principle gets laid down: that [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Columbia Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Ads placed for the drama had an estimated media value of $5.71 million through Sunday for 997 national ad [...]

  • Circus of Books

    Outfest Film Review: 'Circus of Books'

    Rachel Mason grew up believing that her parents ran a small bookstore in Los Angeles. She wasn’t entirely mistaken, although the naive young woman — then an artsy teen, now a documentary filmmaker — never imagined that, as her mother Karen bluntly tells her on camera, “at one point, we were probably the biggest distributor [...]

  • Themba Ntuli and Ashley Lazarus

    Ashley Lazarus, Director of Apartheid-Era Cult Classic, Returns to Screen

    DURBAN–Director Ashley Lazarus, whose film about the interracial friendship between two young boys during the apartheid era became a South African cult classic in the 1970s, is set to return to the big screen with a film that builds on his life-long passion for early-childhood education. “Teacher Wanted” is the inspirational story of a teacher [...]

  • Channing Tatum

    Channing Tatum's Free Association Partners With Atwater Capital for Film Development Fund

    Free Association, a production company led by Channing Tatum, Peter Kiernan and Reid Carolin, has entered into a film development fund with Atwater Capital. The four-year $2 million revolving fund stipulates that Atwater will finance a minimum of five films with Free Association. Michael Parets, VP of production, will oversee the deal. Free Association will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content