Saying that discrimination is “still rampant” in the film industry, the Directors Guild of America released its second report on Feature Film Diversity on June 21, 2018, which found that only 9.7% of live-action American films with box office takes of at least $250,000 were directed by minorities last year — a five-year low and a precipitous drop of 46% since 2013.
Female directors fared considerably better than in recent years — up in numbers by 100% compared with 2013. According to the report, 22 women directed 12.2% of all feature films last year that grossed more than $250,000 — double the number from five years ago. But as a percentage of the population, they’re still more underrepresented than minority directors.
Read the full report here.
“It’s outrageous that we’re once again seeing such a lack of opportunity for women and people of color to direct feature films,” DGA president Thomas Schlamme said. “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. We dug into our proprietary data to see if we could 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 also noted that “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.”
Schlamme added: “Change is long overdue. 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 DGA tried to get the companies to adopt a version of the NFL’s Rooney Rule in its two most recent contract negotiations. Such a rule would require producers to interview female and minority candidates as part of the hiring process for directing jobs. But the companies “categorically rejected” the idea, according to a source familiar with the talks.
Female directors fared even better as a percentage of all 651 live-action feature films released last year, no matter what they grossed. According to the DGA’s data, they got 16.5% of those directing jobs. (The report does not include documentaries or animated films.)
But women didn’t direct any of the 13 films released by the major studios and their subsidiaries that grossed between $250,000 and $10 million last year, and of the 67 directors who worked on films that grossed more than $10 million, only seven were women (10.4%). They were 9.2% of the directors on the 75 films that grossed between $250,000 and $10 million, and 14.3% of those who directed the 100 films that grossed more than $10 million.
And as the number of female directors has been going up, naturally the number of male film directors has been going down, hitting a five-year low in 2017 – and this while the number of films released has been relatively stable, averaging 175 films a year. But male film directors still outnumbered females last year by more than 7 to 1.
Up until last year, minority directors outnumbered women in each of preceding four years, but women passed them last year — 22 to 14. The DGA’s charts on female and minority directors, however, are not based on the same criteria: The one for women includes all U.S.-produced live-action features regardless of whether they were shot under a DGA contract. The chart for minority directors includes only those films shot under DGA contracts, which is why 34 fewer films are included in the minority chart than in the women’s.
"Also, the DGA could not determine the race or ethnicity of three of the directors of films that grossed more than $250,000 last year. Removing them from the total number of directors gives minorities 9.9% of the directing jobs whose race is known." - DGA
Minority directors fared even worse on higher-grossing films. Minorities directed only one of the 13 films released by the major studios and their subsidiaries last year that grossed between $250,000 and $10 million. That’s just 7.7% – the same percentage as the lone director whose race could not be determined. And of the 96 directors of DGA-signatory films that grossed more than $10 million, only eight (8.3%) were minorities, with the race of one director unknown.