×

How Long Will TV and Film’s Boom Market for Female Stories Last?

NANTUCKET, Mass. — The #MeToo moment and the push for gender parity in Hollywood has opened doors for women artists in the film and TV business in the past year, but there are concerns that the appetite for female-led stories could be a “worryingly trendy conversation.” That’s how showrunner Sera Gamble put during a panel session Saturday at the Nantucket Film Festival that focused on the status of women filmmakers, actors and writers.

After so many years of hearing “no” to projects revolving around protagonists who are female or persons of color, it’s pleasantly surprising to be asked to bring in diverse material director-producer Miranda Bailey said during the “Women Beyond the Words” panel moderated by NPR host Ophira Eisenberg.  Bailey was joined by Gamble, actor-producer Alysia Reiner, actor Jeanne Tripplehorn, and documentary filmmaker Nancy Schwartzman.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Bailey, “I’m being told by every single studio please come in, we want a female director and female stories. I’m like ‘Great.’ ” Bailey, whose latest pic is the father-son comedy “You Can Choose Your Family,”  noted she has a backlog of projects stalled for years that are getting new looks. “I don’t know if it’s guilt or enough social pressure. or whatever. I don’t care how we get there as long as we respect each other and the men that are a part of the process as well,” she said. 

Gamble, exec producer of Lifetime’s “You” and Syfy’s “The Magicians,” said the good news is that there’s less pressure on a handful of female-lead productions to succeed at all costs.

“A single woman with a movie won’t be judged as if she has to represent all women on planet Earth,” she said. But she added her concern that Hollywood’s current interest in diversity hiring at all levels may not be sustainable at current levels because of what she called a “pipeline problem,” she said.

“It takes a while for a (talent) pool to be built up,” Gamble said. She and other panelists emphasized the importance of mentoring programs and women in positions of authority making a conscious effort to hire more women. Gamble noted that it’s important to ensure diversity in entry-level assistant jobs because so many of them are the writers, directors, producers and craft and tech artisans of tomorrow.

Reiner (“Orange Is the New Black”) has launched a female-focused production banner that is behind the comedy “Egg,” starring Reiner and Christina Hendricks. Reiner said the current wave of female apprenticeship and empowerment initiatives is different than in the past because there are larger networks that women can tap into, and there are more successful and affluent women to help others on the way up.

“This moment is not about complaining about things. It’s about acknowledging things and accepting things and then taking action to change it,” Reiner said. On the production of “Egg,’ every department head was a woman and 70% of the crew positions were filled by women.

Reiner pointed to Bailey’s decision to launch the CherryPicksReviews website to give a platform for female film critics. She was inspired by research indicating that some 78% of film critics in the U.S. are male. Bailey said she’d noticed over the years that reviews of some her films and films she liked — including “I Do … Until I Don’t” and “The Zookeeper’s Wife” — were received very differently by male and female reviewers.

Tripplehorn cited “transparency” as a key element for women to achieve prominence and parity in the industry. She noted her longtime close friendship with actor Laura Linney. The two regularly talk openly about what they earn for various projects.

“That’s the only way we’re going to get through to another level,” Tripplehorn said. “We need to be honest. Share how much you’re making, share how you’re dealing with people.”

Panelists agreed that women have break out of the mindset of being wary of helping other women to achieve their career ambitions out of concern that they will only create more competition for themselves down the road. That dynamic was in play when there were far fewer opportunities in film and TV for female creatives, but it is outmoded in today’s world.

“We’re all afraid that our pots are so small and we’re all fighting over the a little small pot,” Schwartzman said. “Women have wealth now. Women can invest in other women.”

Schwartzman, whose latest doc “Roll Red Roll” revisits the 2012 sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl by two high school football stars in Steubenville, Ohio, got a laugh at the close of the hourlong session after Bailey noted the condescending nature of some men who go out of their way to insist that they only ever want to work with “strong women.”

Schwartzman deadpanned: “I only work with weak men.”

(Pictured: Miranda Bailey, Alysia Reiner, and Jeanne Tripplehorn)

More Film

  • 'Parasite,' 'Jojo Rabbit' Win ACE Eddie

    'Parasite,' 'Jojo Rabbit' Win ACE Eddie Awards for Top Feature Films

    “Parasite” and “Jojo Rabbit” have won the top feature film trophies at the 70th Annual ACE Eddie Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Jinmo Yang won the dramatic feature category for “Parasite” over “Ford v Ferrari,” “Joker,” “The Irishman,” and “Marriage Story.” The victory marks the first time in ACE Eddie Awards history that a [...]

  • Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant,

    Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant, Dies at 73

    Gregg Smith, a dancer, casting director and assistant choreographer who had a long association with director Kenny Ortega, has died. He was 73. Smith died on Jan. 1. The industry veteran worked as a performer in the national touring company of the musical “Hair” and in a Los Angeles production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He [...]

  • Oscar Isaac Golden Globes 2016

    Film News Roundup: Oscar Isaac Joins Superhero Movie 'The Great Machine'

    In today’s film news roundup, Oscar Isaac boards “The Great Machine,” Keira Knightley joins “Silent Night” and “The Dog Doc” finds a home. CASTINGS Legendary has closed a deal for Oscar Isaac to star in and produce superhero saga “The Great Machine.” The project is based on Brian K. Vaughan’s comic book series “Ex Machina” [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    U.S. Movie Admissions Plunge 4.6% in 2019 Amid Box Office Decline

    U.S. movie admissions slid 4.6% last year to 1.24 billion, the second lowest admissions number during the current century, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) has reported. North American box office for the year declined 4.1% to $11.4 billion, NATO said Friday. That figure was in line with the estimate released at the end [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'National Treasure 3' Moves Ahead From Disney, Jerry Bruckheimer

    Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer are moving ahead with a third “National Treasure” movie with “Bad Boys for Life” screenwriter Chris Bremner tapped to write the script. Bremner has also signed to write a fourth “Bad Boys” for Sony with Bruckheimer producing. Bruckheimer produced the three “Bad Boys” and the two “National Treasure” movies. The “National [...]

  • Mike (WILL SMITH), Marcus (MARTIN LAWRENCE)

    'Bad Boys 4' in the Works at Sony Pictures

    Sony Pictures has launched early development of an untitled fourth “Bad Boys” movie with “Bad Boys for Life” screenwriter Chris Bremner returning to write the script. Bremner has also signed to write “National Treasure 3” for Disney with Jerry Bruckheimer producing. Bruckheimer produced the three “Bad Boys” and the two “National Treasure” movies. Bremner teamed [...]

  • Corsican Summer, Los Conductos

    Belgium's Best Friend Forever Nabs Berlinale-Bound 'Los Conductos,' 'Corsican Summer' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brussels-based company Best Friend Forever acquired two debut features, Camilo Restrepo’s Berlinale-bound “Los Conductos” and Pascal Tagnati’s “Corsican Summer.” Both films are produced by up and coming outfit 5à7 films. Set to premiere at the Berlinale’s new competitive section Encounters, “Los Conductos” is a Spanish-language film set in Medellin (Colombia) and loosely based on the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content