Friday, February 1, 2013


Today is February 1st, which marks the beginning of Black History Month, LGBTQ History Month, Heart Health Month, National Bird-Feeding Month, and Women in Horror Recognition Month.  Every year, Day of the Woman chooses to participate in WiH month.  While I could very well do my part to observe an event for all of these fantastic monthly celebrations, I personally choose to focus my time and energy on women in horror.  Women in Horror month has received its fair share of criticism over the years as being "pointless," "unnecessary," and even "insulting to Black History month."  Well, while I can see where the naysayers are coming from, women in horror month is still absolutely necessary.

You'd have to be a complete idiot not to notice the gender injustice that exist between men in women in the film world.  Without even addressing the absurdity that is women v. men in the acting field as far as unfair treatment due to age, appearance, and the dollar signs on their paychecks, the world of "behind the scenes" film making boast some rather depressing numbers.  Stacy L. Smith, Ph. D., Katherine Pieper, Ph.D. and marc Choueiti at Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California recently released a study tracking the statistics of film-makers competing at Sundance.  The study assessed 11,197 directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and editors whose movies screened in Sundance from 2002-2012. The results are depressing to say the least.
  • For every 1 female film director, there are 15.24 male directors.    
  • Women support women.  Films directed by women feature more women in all roles.  There is a 21% increase in women working on a narrative film when there is a female director and a 24% of women working on documentaries
  • In narrative film when looking at women directors over the last decade, only 41 women have made films in the top 100 released films every year across the decade, compared to 625 men.
Luckily, Sundance has more women directing narrative films more than ever this year with 41% of the accepted narrative films coming from female directors.  How many of these films will receive a national releasing or be picked up by a studio will be a totally different story.  This is just  a small amount of the statistics released, but I am completely in awe of these numbers.  Some people may argue "it's because women aren't making movies" and I have to agree to disagree.  This. Is. Not. True.  Women are making films by the boatload as of late, the problem is how many of them make it through the Hollywood ringer and given its fair exposure.  The study continues on to showcase that women are less likely to be "trusted" with a larger budget and although women are more likely to be producers, and as the roles become more high profile and money becomes a factor, the number of women goes down. So women are more likely to be associate producers than producers.

Hannah Fidell, left, Liz Garcia, Cherien Dabis, Naomi Foner and Gabriela Cowperthwaite. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times / January 22, 2013)

I'm sorry, but why is this happening?  It has already been shown that now that educational equality has been spiking up, women are smarter than men, and the military FINALLY agrees that women are just as capable of fighting in combat positions instead of being whisked away as nurses and computer technicians.  The struggle for women in entertainment (or genre culture in general) is deep and abiding.  Women are constantly forced to work twice as hard as their male counterparts just to be seen as equals.  It's almost as if a woman must be flawless in all aspects of life to be taken seriously.  So Kathryn Bigelow won an Oscar, so what?  That's one female director in an ever powerful sausage fest.  Until the film world takes off their NO GIRLS ALLOWED (except hot actresses LOL) sign off of the clubhouse, it's not going to be a fair playing field.

In the horror world especially, women are pretty big on the indie circuit, I will not deny that.  However, when it comes to the world of Hollywood, women directors can be counted on one hand.  Why? Why is that? Why can't we take some of these rather impressive female directed films and give them large-scale exposure?  I have had this discussion with many of my male horror comrades and they unfortunately just don't see the injustices between women in the filmmaking world.  They are convinced that because they haven't seen quality female filmmaking, it must not exist.  Well, I disagree.  There ARE fantastic films directed by women, but access to these films is rather exclusive and the only films that we DO seem to get a hold of are the ones that go viral for whatever reason or another.  As much as I respect what they have done for getting female directed horror films back in the limelight, there are female directors other than The Twisted Twins making movies, but no one seems to want to take the time to seek these films out unless they are already a woman in horror, or they feel compelled to participate in a women's event.

Now, I understand those that make the argument, "isn't drawing attention to the injustices just emphasizing the separation even more?"  In some ways, I agree with this point but I truly beg to differ.  Women in Horror recognition month is absolutely necessary for our horror world.  There are so many filmmakers, producers, writers, actors, cinematographers, etc. etc. that would NEVER receive their deserving exposure if it wasn't for this month.  To put it simply, women are just never a priority for people in the film journalism field.  Forcing individuals to seek out women who are struggling to make it work allows us to discover untapped talent and gain exposure to an entire world of filmmakers that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. 

So again, why women in horror?  I participate in women in horror because the lack of exposure for female filmmakers is something that needs to stop, fast.  We need to realize that the lack of a Y chromosome does not render you incapable of making films.  We need to start entrusting our hard earned dollars on women to give us quality horror films.  We need to accept female filmmakers as equals and encourage their talents to be something more than just indie filmmakers destined for low-budget B movies or stifled from high authority positions.  Now, being an indie filmmaker is NOT a bad thing in the slightest, but until I see a female director's name on a film preview in a movie theater for a horror film (more than once every 10 years)...equality just doesn't exist. 

1 comment(s):

Sean (the Freak) said...

WiH Month is an awesome concept, love that your blog is representing. A request: it might be a good moment to call attention to "Strigoi," 2009's Eastern European vampire flick that was written and directed by the insanely talented Faye Jackson. It's underseen and underloved. I did a search for it on your site and didn't see any coverage. It's streaming on Netflix Instant, if you use that service. But it's funny, quirky and political, and also lead actor Cătălin Paraschiv is hella sexy.

We're doing our own Women in Horror Month over on our blog, Girl Meets Freak. We do one in-depth analysis/review a week - in February we're doing 4 classics: Eyes Without a Face, Repulsion, Onibaba and The Innocents. Check us out - you might dig it.

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