On Tuesday, August 5 The WIP hosted the Twitter chat #WomenCallAction featuring writer/director Rachel Feldman and Melissa Silverstein, founder of the Indiewire blog Women and Hollywood. The chat, inspired by stark realities such as only 1 percent of Hollywood blockbuster films were directed by women last year, sought to explore the underlying causes and costs of Hollywood’s gender bias.
The conversation began with discussions of how media shapes culture, in particular how negative portrayals of women and girls impact how they are treated in real life, and how women’s stories remain off screen because of our culture's failure to consider them important enough to tell.
Participants did offer hope, pointing out that some of the strongest movies of the year featured strong female characters. Now, we must turn that momentum toward the people behind the cameras…
Several great suggestions, including hiring writers and directors through a blind process to allow quality to be the primary focus of the hiring process, not the name, were put forth. Melissa Silverstein suggests studios pledge to make sure at least one woman is seriously considered and interviewed to direct every movie made in Hollywood.
But perhaps the strongest takeaway from the entire conversation is that as consumers, we do have power. By creating a strong demand for female-directed films, we can force the studios’ hands because, as Seeking Our Story pointed out earlier in the conversation, Hollywood studios are responsible to their stockholders for creating the largest possible profits.
Throughout the conversation, participants tweeted great ideas for how consumers can better empower themselves to find women-directed movies. @DirectedbyWomen shared a personal blog about a yearlong journey to view at least 50 percent of films directed by women. @TheDirectorList shared their Pinterest board featuring women directors with links to the films they direct.
In conclusion, we leave Hollywood with this message from Rachel Feldman, “Value talent over validation, discover and nurture talent. #WomenCallAction.”
Going forward, share your ideas about how to create more demand for woman-directed film and television with The WIP!