Indie Women Study 2022-23

Indie Women: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in U.S. Independent Film, 2022-23 

by Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D. 


First initiated in 2008, the Indie Women project monitors the employment of behind-the-scenes women working on films screening and/or streaming at 20 high-profile film festivals in the U.S. This report focuses on the representation of women working as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers on domestically and independently produced feature-length documentaries and narrative films selected by the festivals from July 2022 through June 2023.


Key Findings:

Amount of screened narratives directed by women remain the same:  In 2022-23, the U.S. festivals studied streamed and/or screened an average of 7 narrative films directed by women compared to an average of 10 narrative films directed by men. This marks a slight improvement from 2021-22.

Amount of screened docs directed by women rise: For the first time since women’s representation at festivals has been tracked, fests streamed and/or screened equal numbers of documentaries directed by women and men in 2022-23. This marks a slight improvement from 2021-22.

Average No. of Documentaries Directed by At Least One Woman vs. Average No. of Films Directed Exclusively by Men Streamed/Screened at U.S. Festivals


Women make up 39% of behind the scenes crew: Women comprised 39% of directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors, and cinematographers working on independently and domestically produced feature-length films in 2022-23. This represents no change from 2021-22. 

Women are most commonly producers:  On all films considered (narrative features and documentaries), women fared best as producers, followed by directors, executive producers, writers, editors , and cinematographers. 

Women hire more women: Films with at least one woman director had substantially higher percentages of women working as writers, editors, cinematographers, and composers. 


Comparison of Employment of Behind-the-Scenes Women on Films with At Least One Woman Director vs. Films with Exclusively Male Directors


Women work more on documentaries: Women continued to enjoy higher employment on documentaries than on narrative features. The percentage of women working in every role considered was higher on documentaries than on narrative features 

More women directors and writers than ever before: The percentage of women working as directors increased from 40% in 2021-22 to 42% in 2022-23. The percentage of women writers rose from 35% in 2021-22 to 40% in 2022-23. These are recent historic highs.


Historical Comparison of Percentages of Women Working on Independent Films (Documentaries and Narrative Features) by Role




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