By Hope Su
Many are unaware of the faces behind filmmaking, but films with a production cost of over $100 million dollars are rarely directed or produced by a female. Currently, Disney has two independent female directors in its lineup, Niki Caro of “Mulan” and Ava Duvernay of “A Wrinkle in Time.” As Disney continues to expand its audience by focusing on live action films, Caro and Devernay are expected to make groundbreaking contributions.
Successful filmmakers in their own right, Caro and Duvernay have opened many doors for females in the movie industry to help more women in film, Caro hired female producers, a female camera operator, a female stunt coordinator, a female production designer, a female set decorator, and many other females to help on set of her upcoming film “The Zookeeper’s Wife”. Meanwhile, Duvernay opted to use only female directors for her series Queen Sugar. In addition, Duvernay’s“Selma” was the first film directed by an African-American woman to be nominated for Best Picture, which in itself has broken barriers for black women in film.
“It’s devastating to see. But it’s good to have these hard numbers, because it allows us to understand what we’re up against. I’m no longer interested in berating studios or raising my fists and kind of beating my brow about the Academy. I am more interested in helping women make their pictures,” Duvernay said according to a recent interview with Southern California Public Radio.
Duvernay is an excellent choice to direct Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” because she will be focusing on including more women on set, rather than making it big at the box office. Similarly, Caro has also had a hand in making the art of directing films that are more gender inclusive.
Caro, whose most recent film was “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” was praised for her inclusion of women on set: Kim Dubick, Diane Levin, Rachael Levine, Katie McNeill, and Antje Rau are just a few examples of the many women that worked on the film. In most film studios, stunt coordinators, screenwriters and camera operators are often way outnumbered by males. Actress Jessica Chastain was eager to share her excitement on working on a film that involved so many women.
“We’re not even 50 percent of the crew — we’re probably something like 20 percent women and 80 percent men — but it’s way more than I’ve ever worked with on a film before,” Chastain said to the Hollywood Reporter.
Working behind the camera gives women the opportunity to be judged solely based on their work instead of their appearance. Giving women a say in how they are portrayed on the screen also helps stop women from being overly sexualized in the media, which will help young girls.
According to the American Psychological Association, too many young girls are suffering from mental health issues because they believe that their appearance defines them. Far too many times in society, a woman is judged solely based on her looks in comparison to men. Caro and Devernay will definitely continue to involve more women on set in their next big films. With role models to look up to, young girls will be motivated to pursue careers in filmmaking despite being outnumbered.