Sundance

Half The Picture: 0.006% of Hollywood Directors From BAME Backgrounds

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“When you see the same kinds of stories over and over from the same perspective, it’s not representative of people living in society; women’s voices are certainly marginalised and women of colour are basically erased.” – Amy Adrion

Half The Picture (2018), directed by Amy Adrion, comes at a pivotal moment for gender equality in Hollywood. Successful women directors tell the stories of their art, lives and careers in a film that doesn’t pull any punches about what the realities are for women in the industry, specifically in Hollywood. Nevertheless, it still manages to offer an inspiring sense of fight and hope and the first glimpse of a future that values women directors’ voices equally to those of men.

Amy Adrion’s documentary feature began life being funded solely on credit cards, similar to many of us starting our projects, and gathered momentum as more interviews were conducted and finances were confirmed, and as #MeToo unfolded. Half The Picture presents facts and anecdotes from women directors that work across a range of films and documentaries all the way from the indie market up to and including big budget studio films. The women discuss the realities of getting films financed, dealing with male colleagues challenging their authority and their experience, and also the demands of the job – working in film as a mother often means leaving young children behind while being on location weeks on end.

Sam Taylor-Johnson Picture Credit: Jo Davidson / Silverhub for Sundance London

The statistics that the film shows are as expected, but are particularly awful if you are a director from a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity) background. Female BAME existence in the film world borders on invisibility: 0.006% of directors working in Hollywood are from BAME backgrounds. There is also a correlation between lower budget documentary/narrative films and the number of female directors that are working in this space. Then conversely, as the budgets grow, the number of women securing directing roles begins to decline there – save, of course, some rare successes.

0.0006% of directors working in Hollywood are from BAME backgrounds.

When you see the same kinds of stories over and over from the same perspective, it’s not representative of people living in society; women’s voices are certainly marginalised and women of colour are basically erased.” – Amy Adrion

Adrion is quick to debunk the myth that if your work is good enough you’ll succeed no matter what your gender, saying: “That’s exactly what’s been happening for the past 100 years. Only white men have been considered for every job in Hollywood forever, they have been favoured over everybody else. So it’s frustrating because a lot of white male directors will say “it’s a tough time to be a white male director, they’re only looking for women” and you’re like, maybe they’re looking for women a little bit, but it’s not like women are now directing 96 percent of movies.”

 

Director Amy Adrion and Ana Souza introducing ‘Half the Picture’ during the Sundance Film Festival London. Picture Credit: Jo Davidson / Silverhub for Sundance London

Over the last year, we have seen some groundbreaking moment’s from the release of Wonder Woman with Patty Jenkins back to direct the next installment, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird that led to an Oscar nomination for her, as well as Ava DuVernay’s much-awaited Wrinkle In Time, which had a production and marketing budget of around $200 million and $250 million, making her the first African-American woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of that size the film has also now exceeded the $100 million mark at the box office.

All three films have done well and so their impact will continue to be felt in more female-led films both behind and in front of the camera. Half The Picture should be required viewing for anyone in the industry regardless of gender, as it is the gatekeepers who we need to continue to lobby for change.

Half The Picture actually should be required viewing for anyone in the industry male or female .

Distributed by Gravitas and available on Itunes. 

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