The issue of diversity in Hollywood — or rather the lack thereof — has been growing increasingly apparent, even becoming a major focus of the Emmy Awards this year. Now, the Director’s Guild of America has released its first DGA Feature Film Diversity Report, which examines the 376 directors of films released in 2013 and 2014. Not surprisingly, the study found that the majority of directors were white males, with females and minorities helming a disproportionately low percentage of the projects.
In terms of numbers, females directors made up just 6.4 percent of the cohort and minority directors accounted for 12.5 percent, according to the study. Minority females were the smallest group, comprising just 1.3 percent. Their male counterparts fared better (but still not well) at 11.2 percent.
The DGA also looked at the films’ box office performance, separating them into films that grossed between $250,000 and $10 million, and those that brought in over $10 million. The gap between male and female directors only widened when looking at the higher grossing films; just 3.1 percent of the films that grossed over $10 million were directed by women. As the report points out, this likely indicates that as difficult as it is for women to break into filmmaking, it’s harder still to land a job directing a high-budget, wide-release project.
One encouraging finding is that a similar divide between the big- and small-box office films did not exist for minority directors. In fact, a greater percentage of the $10 million-plus were helmed by minorities than of the movies that grossed $250,000 to $10 million (14.4 percent compared to 11.6 percent).
Looking at the information by studio, DGA found that Lionsgate hires were the most diverse. (Ten percent of its directors were women and 32 percent were male minorities.) On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, were Disney, The Weinstein Co., and Warner Bros., all of which failed to hire any female directors at all. Among smaller production companies, Summit’s directors were all Caucasian, while Open Road’s were exclusively Caucasian males.
DGA president Paris Barclay used the findings as a chance to point out that the demographics of filmmakers should mirror that of the general movie-going population and that the industry needs to do more to improve diversity.
“What this report does not reflect is what people who love film — even our culture as a whole — are missing when such a disproportionate percentage of films are directed by one gender or one ethnicity,” he said in a related press release. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a metric for that. What you will see is what happens when industry employers — studios and production companies — do little to address this issue head on.”
Although the conclusions of the report aren’t exactly shocking based on other recent studies, the DGA report is still useful in that it provides hard data and inspires conversation (and hopefully action). As Barclay stated, “The DGA, by detailing the state of director hiring with the precision of our data, hopes to draw further attention to this serious matter so that industry employers can develop concrete director diversity plans.”
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