Studio Head Amy Pascal Offers Straight Talk On The Dismal State of Hollywood For Female Directors

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As the only female head of a major studio, Amy Pascal knows her stuff when it comes to the industry. So when she says of female directors that “the whole system is geared for them to fail,” maybe she knows what she’s talking about. Just maybe.

Note the sarcasm, please; I just wanted to get ahead of any mansplainers who might want to say things like “But I was in a directing class once and most of my fellow students were men, so maybe there aren’t that many women who wan’t to direct!”

In an interview with Forbes Pascal was remarkably candid on the issue of how the film industry is stacked against females:

“The problem is when you compare the movie business to the music business or the publishing business, you have huge colossal stars in the world of publishing that are women and everyone reads those books, whether it is Danielle Steel or Jackie Collins or JK Rowling. And the same can be said for the music business. You’ve got Taylor Swift and Alicia Keyes and Lady Gaga. I was trying to figure out why and what happens in those other industries. It is that you can write a hit song or you can write a book that everybody is going to love and you just show up with it and there is no denying it because everyone in the business is looking to make money and when they see something that’s going to make money, they want it.

For a woman to direct a movie in Hollywood, she has to go through so many layers of rejection by the powers that be—I suppose including myself—that it is harder to get to that point.  So you can’t just create something.  And I think there is a whole unconscious mountain.”

So how can this whole unconscious mountain get, uh, bulldozed? Pascal mentions that Sony “probably hire[s] more female directors [than any other studio]… We made lots of movies with Nora Ephron with Nancy Meyers with Catherine Hardwicke, with Kathryn Bigelow. That’s an agenda for us.” That’s one aspect to the solution, certainly. Another part, explains Pascal, relates to movies themselves:

“The most important thing in the job that we do here is to make movies about women where they are characters that have consequences in the story. They can be villains, they can be protagonists, I don’t care. But their movements, their actions, what they do in the plot has to actually matter. And that’s the most important thing, because young girls coming up are going to see that they matter that your not an appendage to someone else—that you’re not married to the person, not their sister or friend or girlfriend, you actually are the plot.”

Good points, both, though I would argue that if the industry itself is rigged against female directors (and it is), working with the relatively few female directors who’ve already made it won’t do that much to change things, at least not by itself. In the interview Pascal is asked when we’re going to start seeing more up-and-coming female indie directors tapped for studio films, as has already happened with Marc Webb, Gareth Edwards, and so many other men. She didn’t offer much by the way of a response, saying that:

I have begged Kathryn Bigelow to make Spider-Man, James Bond, anything I can think of. So far I haven’t hooked her. I think it is about women showing up and saying that’s what they want and not taking no for an answer.

Forbes: That they want to do the big blockbusters?

I think that the whole system is geared for them to fail and we’re going to have to change a lot of what we do in order for that to happen?

Change it how? Don’t get me wrong, I love that Pascal’s being up-front about there being a problem with the system, but I’d also love to also read her suggestions on how that can be combatted, especially since she, as a studio head, is one of a relatively small number of people who actually have the power to change things in a direct way.

Oh well. In the absence of her suggestions, how about our readers offer some of their own? C’mon, people. Let’s workshop this thing.

(via: Women and Hollywood)

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