Jason Blum’s Excuse For Not Hiring Female Directors is Pretty Terrible
Laurie Strode wouldn't buy this.
Blumhouse is one of the smartest studios working today. Their horror films are more often than not well received, and producer Jason Blum has had his name on some seriously big projects. He’s worked with some stellar directors and writers, but with the upcoming release of Halloween, it might be time to ask why none of the directors of their theatrically released films have been female. Of course, Blum had an answer. A pretty terrible answer.
“We’re always trying to that. We’re not trying to do it because of recent events. We’ve always been trying,” Blum said. He went on to add: “There are not a lot of female directors period, and even less who are inclined to do horror.” He went on to talk about how he’d tried to enlist Jennifer Kent, who directed The Babadook, to work with Blumhouse. He then called an assistant to remind him of another woman they’d spoken to in a moment that made me embarrassed to read about. Calling your assistant to remind you of a female director’s name is just never a good look, especially when you can only name two female directors you’ve spoken to.
There are not as many female directors as male directors, that much is true, but to use that as an excuse to not actively court women to direct their films is absurd. Many of the directors who Blumhouse has worked with are hardly big names, and the popularity of the studio combined with their low budget approach makes it the perfect ground to give new talent a shot. All it would take would be a little more digging and care, but if they’re going to such lengths to perfect their strategy of crowd pleasing horror films, they can devote a little time to finding a woman to step behind the camera.
Also, you can ask more than one woman. Just because Kent turned down a project doesn’t mean that there are no other women out there. Make some calls, go to some festivals, and pound the pavement until you find some great, undiscovered talent who deserves a big break. And before someone tells me “oh it should be decided based on their body of work, not their gender,” let me remind you that many of the people Blumhouse has worked with do not have extensive resumes, or are horror maestros. There’s room to take a shot on a woman.
Catherine Hardwicke literally talking about this phenomenon of reaching out to hire one woman director and then giving up if she says no: pic.twitter.com/tYrXSrjeTk
— Women Film Directors (@women_direct) October 17, 2018
There’s also another misconception buried in that deeply problematic statement. Women directors apparently aren’t drawn to horror. This ties into the notion that women themselves do not like horror films. That is patently not true. Most of the people I see talking about and engaging with horror movies and television shows online are women. The most thoughtful criticisms of the genre are oftentimes written by women. Also, women don’t need to prove that they like a genre to come play with the boys?
It’s a sweeping generalization to say that women do not like horror films, just like saying women do not like superheroes or science fiction. Women are not a hive mind. There are some women who do not like horror, but there are others who adore it. To just write an entire gender off based on a generalization is completely ridiculous. It’s exclusionary and, pardon my French, absolute bullshit.
Blum should step back and think about his actions, apologize, and make a concerted effort to find female directors for his coming projects. Otherwise, his studio will eventually fall behind as talented female directors seek a studio that supports their vision, while Blumhouse is left recycling old ideas and the same directors.
(via Polygon; Image: Universal/Blumhouse)