So this happened this week:
And I was not at all surprised. But I want to offer some
solutions. Because really, what’s the point of complaining about anything if
you’re not going to try to solve the problem?
Believe it or not, when people in Hollywood speak, they tell
the truth. Maybe not with the actual words coming out of their actual mouth
holes, but they’re always telling the truth somehow. You just have to listen.
When a studio or network exec says, “I don’t know any women
directors,” they’re not lying or being malicious. What they’re
really saying is, “Agents do not present women directors to me.” Because in our
current system, that is primarily how execs learn about available talent: by agents presenting lists.
To the executives truly interested in gender parity, or even just
interested in finding new voices who are clearly underrepresented, I say, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to pick up the slack that agents like this dude
are creating. You have to look elsewhere to find women. Look to the festivals, The Director
List (which catalogues over 800 women who have directed features or TV shows),
the Alliance of Women Directors, and Film Fatales. All of those places feature working women directors who may not be repped at the major agencies. You
can also insist that no lists are submitted that don’t have at least two women
When an agent says, “I don’t do women directors,” what he’s
really saying is, “I am not capable of representing women directors. I only take 10% and it’s from people I don’t have to hustle or think creatively for.” So to the other
agents in his agency — because I’m sure everyone knows who this is — that looks
like a job that you might soon be able to relieve him of, as he seems to be
having so much trouble actually doing his job. And talent, if that is your agent, you probably don’t
And to the agency owners, you might want to look at your
client lists, because I know some of those guys you represent are not making any money. And I
know a lot of women who are much more talented than some of your clients. So in
not repping them, you are doing a disservice to your agency’s bottom line, to the
studios, and to the networks.
To my fellow women filmmakers, and I suspect this may not be well received, please know that when you speak publicly or privately, people are actually listening. I have heard women filmmakers say, “I don’t want to do studio films.” I hope you understand that to an agent, it means, “I don’t want to make you money.” And it supports a false narrative that some people are all too eager to believe. I don’t know about you, but that is not the message I want to be sending.
We are all actually making culture here and may just have a tiny bit of responsibility as well.
To be clear, gender parity is not just about balance. It’s
about the fact that we are missing out on 51% of the population’s voice. Chances
are, that means someone is missing out on making some money.
Personally, I have no agenda other than to make great
movies. And there are lots of solid women directors out there, like me, who
want to and will make big movies and lots of money while we’re at it. It’s just
too bad for douchebag agents like that guy who are going to miss out on their ten-percent cut.
Jen McGowan is the director of Kelly & Cal. She is repped by manager Wendi Niad and lawyer Hillary Bibicoff, whom she both loves.