Faced With Limited Options, Some Female Film Directors Have Turned To The Small Screen, Where Choice And Demand Are More Plentiful

By Meredith Blake
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Meredith Blake reports, some of the top women in film have turned to television for opportunities not readily available in the feature film world.

Los Angeles Times

In the 14 years that elapsed between her debut feature, the Oscar-winning “Monster,” and her blockbuster second film, “Wonder Woman,” Patty Jenkins kept her skills sharp by directing episodes of “The Killing,” “Entourage” and “Arrested Development.”

Jenkins is hardly alone in following this path. Some of the most distinctive and acclaimed female filmmakers of the last 25 years, Jane Campion, Mary Harron, Allison Anders, Nicole Holofcener among them, have turned to television for opportunities not readily available in the feature film world.

Writer-director Kimberly Peirce struck gold with her first feature, “Boys Don’t Cry,” whose lead actress, Hilary Swank, also won an Academy Award. But it took her nine years to make her follow-up, the Iraq war drama “Stop-Loss,” a commercial disappointment.

“People would say to me, ‘Why don’t you make more movies?’ You should never ask a woman why she hasn’t made more movies, any more than you should ask a person of color why they’re not doing certain things that are inherently more difficult for people of color to do,” says Peirce. “What you need to ask is, ‘Why are these competent, brilliant people being stopped in their tracks?’ The systemic obstacles and the systemic discrimination against women are horrifying.”

Having risen in New York’s indie film community, she was frustrated by studio meddling and the way that the best material and the best screenwriters inevitably went to male directors. “There was a subtle, kind of putting down of where women were,” she says. “If you did get onto a set with a halfway decent story, the level of interference was so crazy. It’d be like, ‘You sit down to dinner, and somebody takes your food away.’ In retrospect, the interference had solely to do with my gender.”

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