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Hell Yeah! The Old Guard Was Made by an 85% Female Team

Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne in The Old Guard

Everything about The Old Guard is awesome. You know this. We know this. But we can’t stop talking about all the different ways it’s awesome, and one of those was highlighted by director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who in a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, noted that the post-production team on The Old Guard was 85% women.

That’s amazing, particularly because while women are well-represented in traditionally “feminine” roles like costumes and art direction on film sets and in production suites, women still make up a shamefully low percentage of other roles, like editors (23%), directors(13%), visual effects artists (6%) and cinematographers (5%). And that’s just a few jobs. This was something Prince-Bythewood consciously sought to change with the people she hired for The Old Guard.

Prince-Bythewood explained the difficulty that so many women have in breaking into these areas:

When you look at the résumés of a lot of really talented women, they are not as long or as extensive as a lot of men in the same position … But I know for a fact that it doesn’t have to do with talent, it has to do with opportunity. … There are so many women out there who are so good at what they do, but they just haven’t gotten the chance. Their being on my crew, being a part of the film, makes the film better.

On The Old Guard, Prince-Bythewood was not just the first Black woman to direct a big Hollywood comic book adaptation, her crew was also female and inclusive: the editor was Terilyn A. Shropshire, a Black woman who has worked alongside with Prince-Bythewood since the latter’s breakthrough film, 2000’s Love & Basketball. The Visual Effects were supervised by Sara Bennett. Bennett is, according to The Hollywood Reporter “one of only two women ever to have won an Oscar in VFX, for 2014’s Ex Machina.” The co-director of photography was a woman, Tami Reike, so was the sound effects supervisor, Hayley Williams.

This level of inclusion in post-production is something Prince-Bythewood is rightfully proud of. Something else she can be proud of is the amount of work she and her crew were able to do after the coronavirus shut down film production around most of the world. They edited and built VFX from home, and they recorded the score in Iceland because it was the only place safe enough to assemble an orchestra.

And it was all done with a number of women working behind the scenes that’s pretty much unheard of in Hollywood, and especially on a major action movie. This kind of parity, Prince-Bythewood said “doesn’t happen, or very rarely happens on any movie, but on an action film, I guarantee you that’s never happened before.”

The director also took time to credit the other women and Black directors that have come before, in both genre and in Hollywood, from Ryan Coogler to Patty Jenkins. “I absolutely give out props to Patty Jenkins: Her work on Wonder Woman and just killing it absolutely opened the door a crack, and through that crack Skydance, who has this property of The Old Guard, were very intent on wanting a female director for it.”

The results of having so many women working on a film are pretty clear: an amazing movie made with such freshness and vitality, free of the male gaze, and yet electric with action and character. Let’s hope that this New Guard of women in Hollywood is a trend that keeps going.

(image: Netflix, via:

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.