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Hullabaloo


Saturday, November 07, 2015

 
"Being quiet is not working. We can read the statistics."

by digby

This is a fascinating article about director Catherine Hardwicke, who is one of the lucky women directors who managed to make a huge blockbuster which, if Hollywood really is the meritocracy all the big boys claim it is,  should have guaranteed her a spot on the A list. But that isn't how it works in the film business --- or anywhere else for that matter:
Here are some of the points that Hardwicke would address: That, in 2015, it’s still damn hard to get hired as a female director in the industry; that only 16 percent of the 3,900 episodes on television last season were directed by women; that on the big screen, those small numbers shrink even more (only 7 percent of the top 250-grossing films of last year were directed by women). And that the issue isn’t getting better. A free spirit from Texas, who broke out as the indie director of 2003’s “Thirteen,” Hardwicke went on to make one of the most biggest films of the last decade: 2008’s “Twilight,” which grossed $393 million worldwide.

But with success in Hollywood came more setbacks. After “Twilight,” Hardwicke tried to get other projects off the ground, including a retelling of “Hamlet” starring Emile Hirsch, but financiers balked. When she finally directed 2011’s “Red Riding Hood,” Warner Bros. asked her to take a 57% pay cut after they shrunk the budget of the film to $40 million from $75 million, Hardwicke revealed to Variety. “There were possibly other ways the problem could be solved,” says Hardwicke, who has been vocal about sexism in the industry. “They will tell you other people cut their salaries. I don’t know. I don’t have the paychecks of the other guys working for Warner Bros. at the time.”
[...]
You’re very open about the obstacles female directors face. Many other female directors go in the other direction — they don’t want to be defined by their gender.

I used to think I was alone. When no one was speaking about this, after “Thirteen” or “Twilight,” I thought it was all me. “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m not smart enough. I don’t work hard enough.” I’d hear the negative comments — “Oh, she’s difficult or emotional.” And I’d think I’d lead by example. It hasn’t changed the needle, though. Being quiet is not working. We can read the statistics.

Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and Jessica Chastain have all talked about the pay gap for actresses recently.

We could see a seismic change this year. There’s a tidal wave. I don’t think people can ignore it. Even women in studio positions are starting to realize, “I’m part of the gender bias too.” They had to work hard, and they join the boys club sometimes. I love Jill Soloway. Did you read the thing about crying on set? She goes, “Listen, we’ve always been told if you want to cry, go to the bathroom or car, because it’s not acceptable.” I’ve been told that crying makes a man think about his wife, mother or sister, and we don’t want to bring the wife, mother or sister into the workplace. Why wouldn’t you? They are part of the buying force. When I had some tears on “Twilight,” during a storm and we couldn’t film, I went behind a tree in the forest, I cried for like 30 seconds and I came back and finished the day.

You felt like you had to hide it?

I had a $150,000-a-day pressure. Most directors scream. We’ve seen videos of it. They yell. They fire people. They don’t come out of their trailer. Some people drink. Some people bring hookers. Everyone reacts to the extra pressure in different ways. Well, I just thought, “I’ll go over there and cry for a second and come back.” Someone saw, and reported it. I’m suddenly labeled “emotional.” And yet, now I’ve learned of two instances of male directors who cried on set and they got a standing ovation, because they were so sensitive. Of course it’s a double standard. Of course it’s gender bias. I’ve never gone over budget, and my movies have made a ton of money. Still, I get labeled whatever code word they want to label me. I’ve had 20 movies since “Thirteen” that I’ve tried to get made. On “Red Riding Hood,” I had to take a 57 percent pay cut right after I created a $400 million movie and a huge franchise.

I realize that this is a 1st world problem for these women. They are well compensated. But what people don't realize is that this problem exists all the way down the food chain in the business. And there's that added dollop of ageism on top of it. If you've ever worked in the entertainment business, ask yourself how many older women you've ever seen working there. Once in a while you might have a woman over 50 working in HR or accounting. But even that's rare.

You just age out. After you hit your mid-40s, you get laid off through one of the many turnovers in management or corporate mergers (it happens all the time) and you just can't find another job doing what you've been doing for years. Ageism happens to men too, of course. But the combo with sexism is a really lethal blow to women's financial well-being. They've been paid less throughout their careers and have less to fall back on.


Anyway, I know everyone's tired of hearing about this stuff. But half the population is subject to this in many different ways, a lot of it economic. It's true that these millionaire movie stars won't be starving any time soon even if they are being paid substantially less than the men they work alongside. Even the executives who are making less than men doing exactly the same job are doing fine financially. But by dismissing this phenomenon as bourgeois vanity, it also dismisses the very real economic disparity experienced by the many assistants, craftspeople, middle managers and all the rest in the business who really do need the money. It's all part of the same problem. And it doesn't just exist in the glamorous film business by any means. It's an issue across all of American business and industry.

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