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in Filmmaking
on Jul 11, 2007

Mary Pols has assembled some good directors who have offered some great quotes in her piece entitled “They’re Women, Directors and Few.” It’s another piece on why there are so few working female directors in Hollywood, and Pols has brought together indies like Hilary Brougher and Nicole Holofcener with studio vets like Mimi Leder to discuss why. She also talks with Kasi Lemmons, whose Talk to Me (pictured) opens this week.

Here’s a section in which Sherrybaby director Laurie Collyer talks about the differences in approach that men and women have:

But women in the film industry aren’t held back only by external forces. Sometimes the roadblocks are far more subtle and internal, a real behavioral tendency that women don’t even notice unless it’s called to their attention.

Laurie Collyer, fresh off “Sherrybaby’s” success, was deluged with scripts, many of them along the same vein as her movie, which featured a female protagonist who was compelling but also headstrong and bratty.

“Some of them make me laugh because they are not only female leads, they are unsympathetic females, like the volunteer amputee script,” Collyer said. “That’s actually a fetish! So it’s been like a weird mirror being held up.”

Recently she passed on a script she felt was good but had a few too many cliches in it. The producer asked to speak with her. “He said he had had a conversation with Sherry Lansing, who is obviously very powerful,” Collyer said. “She told him women have so much integrity that they don’t understand the process of working with the studio. If they send you a script you don’t like, a woman director is much more likely to just pass. The guy is more likely to call and say, ‘I like this about it and I don’t like this, can we have this conversation?’ Which generally turns into a working relationship.

“It never crossed my mind that it could be partly my fault that I don’t have a job since ‘Sherrybaby,'” Collyer said. “It was really good for me to hear. He wasn’t bitchy about it; he was like, ‘You need to learn something if you want to have a career. This is what the boys do.'”

The article speculates other reasons why there aren’t more working women directors in Hollywood, including the difficulties of balancing the “attend every party” Hollywood mindset with motherhood and a perception that women direct soft “women’s movies” with limited audience appeal.

For those who read this blog, why do you think there are so few working women directors? (The article sites stats saying that of the DGA’s 8,500 directors, 13% are women.)

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