The Directors Guild of America has revealed the results of a five-year study examining the gender and ethnic diversity of first-time directors on scripted series. In the five-year span from the 2009-2010 to the 2013-2014 television seasons, 82% of the 479 directors who received their inaugural assignment in episodic television were men, and 87% were Caucasian. That means women and minority first-time directors accounted for only 18% and 13% of those hires, respectively.
The findings led DGA President Paris Barclay, the first African-American to head the guild, to conclude, “There’s a big opportunity here for those in charge of hiring to make a difference — but they’re not. Without change at the entry level — where women and minority directors get their first directing assignment — it’ll be status quo from here to eternity.” Barclay went on propose a clear-cut, if difficult to implement, solution: “Every director needs a first shot to break into the business — and what this report reveals is that studios, networks, and executive producers need to challenge their own hiring practices and offer talented women and minority directors the same opportunities they are giving white males.”
Betty Thomas, the DGA First Vice-President and Co-Chair of the DGA’s Diversity Task Force, noted, “The data makes it clear. Even when hiring first-timers, the studios and executive producers are making choices that show they don’t actively support diversity hiring.” She continued, “First-time TV directors are new to the game and come from all areas of the industry, including film school — so why is a woman or minority any less qualified than anybody else? It seems clearer than ever that we need to see different points of view. Most of the industry claims to want a more diversified directing workforce — here’s their chance. It could all start here.”
If you’re wondering what professional backgrounds these rookie TV directors are coming from, Variety reports that “writers made up 28% of the first-time episodic director pool, actors made up 18%, assistant directors/unit production managers comprised 10%, cinematographers/camera operators were 8%, editors totaled 5%, other crew made up 5%, and non-writing producers were 1%.”
Original Post by Laura Berger – Indie Wire – Women and Film