German-born director and former World Point Fighting and Karate Champion, Lexi Alexander worked as a stunt woman before directing her first film, the short "Johnny Flynton," which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003. Her first feature, "Green Street Hooligans" won both the Audience Award and Jury Award at SXSW. She later directed "Punisher: War Zone," which became a cult hit following its 2008 release. She wrote and directed "Lifted," and has been working on a variety of other projects.
Aware that she's taking a risk of being labeled a "difficult bitch" if she voices any complaints, Alexander took the bold move of excoriating Hollywood for not hiring more female directors on her blog. She's tired of hearing people say that women don't want to direct and that there are no women directors out there. "I swear, if anyone near me even so much as whispers the
sentence "women probably don't want to direct" my fist will fly as a
reflex action," Alexander wrote.
There are only two kinds of people who are successful at this social
media thing. Those who are funny and those who get real. I am not that
funny, and I have yet to get real publicly.
Today is a good day to change that. Since funny is not an option, I am going to take a deep breath, muster up all the courage I can, and talk about an issue I have long observed despairingly from the sidelines.
Over the past three or four months I have been contacted by a civil liberties organization regarding this issue, I have spoken to several reporters anonymously, I've had lawyers call me to inform me that my forty-minute Academy Award-nominated short film somehow uniquely qualifies me for something I never, ever wanted to qualify for (it has to do with an excuse showrunners like to use when turning down feature directors for episode gigs), I even attended two DGA Women's Steering Committee meetings, and the best part, I have met many fellow women directors.
1) The media has never covered the lack of women in film and television more extensively than right now (skip the links if you must, just trying to make a point):
Those are just from the past few weeks. The list goes on and on.
2) There is no lack of female directors. Repeat after me: THERE IS NO LACK OF FEMALE DIRECTORS. But there is a huge lack of people willing to give female directors opportunities. I swear, if anyone near me even so much as whispers the sentence "Women probably don't want to direct," my fist will fly as a reflex action.
Side note: The previous statement labels me as "difficult".
If I would instead have ended the sentence with, "I don't know what I'm going to do," I would be labeled as "indecisive." By letter of the law, all female directors must fall in one of two categories: Difficult or Indecisive. Bitch or Ditz. Hello, my name is Lexi Alexander, Difficult Bitch. Nice to meet you!
3) Despite the fact that plenty of outlets love to cover the "Women in Hollywood" issue, not one mainstream journalist has had the balls to really get to the bottom of the issue. (There are rumors about a prominent investigative journalist circling the story, but I'll believe it when I read it.)
4) Gender discrimination in Hollywood goes far beyond women simply not getting the gig. It is reflected in movie budgets, P&A budgets, the size of distribution deals (if a female director's movie is lucky enough to score one), official and unofficial internship or mentorship opportunities, union eligibility, etc.
5) Women in Hollywood have no male allies. There are some who pretend to be on our side, but yeah, not really. They may say the right thing because, after all, they're liberals and that's a public image they'd like to keep up. Others may actually believe in gender equality, but are not willing to put up a fight for it that could sacrifice their own status or relationships.
The majority of people think exactly like those anonymous commenters that pop up under any of the above linked articles. Check them out, they're easy to recognize: White male, oblivious to the affirmative-action bonus that came with the cradle? Yup, that's him. He will shout and scream in capital letters about reverse discrimination and argue that people should be hired based on merit and not gender, revealing that his three-hundred-thousand-dollar education really isn't worth a dime.
I'm going to get a lot of heat for the above statement, but I promised to get real. "What's that? You're saying this is not true, that there are many men in Hollywood who have tried to change the status quo?"
Okay. Let's be fair and really dissect this. (I would love, love, love to be wrong about this).