As she continues to transition more fully into the director’s chair, actress and filmmaker Jodie Foster is getting increasingly more vocal about the position of female directors in the industry she’s worked in for decades. Just last month, she told a Tribeca crowd at a Director Series talk between her and Julie Taymor that she “didn’t think that I would ever be allowed to [direct]. I thought I had to come to it from a different direction and then I started writing as a way to get to directing.” Foster now has four features under her director’s belt, along with a variety of television stints on shows like “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.”
Despite her early start as an actress, Foster has made it clear that she wants to be known as a director, not an actress. But even for Foster, her background as an actress might not be what keeps her from further success in her filmmaking career, it might be the industry itself.
Foster is at the Cannes Film Festival this year debuting her star-studded and very timely “Money Monster,” and after the film’s premiere, she sat down with Variety and Kering for one of their “Women in Motion” talks, during which she got very honest about how she feels female directors and female-facing projects are perceived in Hollywood. We’ve put together some of the most important takeaways from Foster’s talk below, check them out.
Female-Centric Projects Are Moving Elsewhere
As Variety reports, Foster noted that the current climate in Hollywood means that the kind of fare that used to provide plenty of parts for women, like rom-coms and the increasingly rare mid-sized budgeted drama, are moving to television to make room for big screen projects that are more and more dedicated to superhero features and other action-centric offerings. And that’s dangerous for everyone.
“They’ll make enormous movies tentpole films and they’ll be all in, kind of like a casino bet,” Foster said. “That’s a really dangerous bet.”
Studio Execs Stick With What’s Familiar
A product of that kind of bet? Studio executives eager to stick with what (and who) they know when it comes time to pick directors. “You’re going to go with the guy that looks like you,” Foster said. For many projects and execs, that means a man.
Diversity Is Healthy
Foster knows a thing or two about life on a movie set, and she seems pleased at the (slowly, but still happening) uptick in diversity and equality she’s seen on sets over the years.
“I saw the faces change as time went on,” Variety reports Foster said. “Everything changed when women came onto sets…it felt more like a family…movie sets became healthier.”
For Foster, that change was essential to her own career growth. She shared, “I was raised by a single mom and even though the world told me that there weren’t a lot of women directors, I decided that I was going to be one.”
Quotas Are Not the Answer
When asked about the possibility of quotas being put into effect in the industry, Foster didn’t seem very excited about the idea. “I’m worried about quotas in terms of art. We’re not talking about junior executives. We’re talking about an art form…I’m worried that it will set back the ideas that we’re hoping for of inclusivity.”
People Want to Change
Foster doesn’t believe that the lack of diversity and equality in Hollywood is some giant, nefarious plot from a bunch of bad guys, but the result of years and years of ingrained attitudes.
“I don’t think it’s some big plot that men have tried to put women down in the film business,” Foster said. “People want to be open and want to change…They’re stuck with traditional models.”
Male Directors Need To Be Better
One major benefit to increasing female presence behind the camera? More multi-dimensional female characters. Foster reflected on some of the more prevalent trends in films directed by men who attempted to give their female characters some huge emotional arc or big motivation, and who often returned to the same issues.
“I wonder why she was a box of tears…she was raped. I wonder why she’s having trouble with her boss…it was rape. The motivation was always rape. They were uninterested in complexity, they were unable to make the transition [to understand female characters],” Foster said.
She continued, “I think it’s the male directors that have the problem. Women are used to putting themselves in other people’s bodies.”
Check out the trailer for Foster’s “Money Monster” below:
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