Female Filmmakers Are Not Risk-Takers?

1 Oct

Some debate is happening regarding female filmmakers in Hollywood. Witness a recent blog article on Women and Hollywood.com called How Can We Get More Women In Power As Directors? Written by Martha Coolidge.[1] The article mentions various problems and solutions regarding the lack of female directors in Hollywood.  Yet, the real debate occurred after one commenter claimed the reason for the lack of female directors was because women are unwilling to take risks. In this article we will explore these claims plus how female consumers are potentially contributing to their own demise.

Do women seek security by nature or nurture?  Women still earn less than men in the workplace so it’s plausible to see why some women might shy away from taking unnecessary risks. Sure women have come along way but it seems the idea of seeing women in powerful positions is very hard for our society as well as women to imagine.  The recent explosion and popularity of the E.L. James trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey made me wonder if the commenter who claimed women aren’t risk takers had a point?  Do women today feel entitled to have positions of authority they have not earned?  Here’s what author E.L. James stated about her own writing.

In a pleasant surprise, author E.L. James told NBC interviewer Michelle Kosinski that she had no particular plan when writing the book, was an undisciplined writer, and knew it wasn’t “great writing.[2]

Are female consumers contributing to their own demise by supporting this writer?  This may sound far fetched but if women are supporting mediocrity then what are they saying about themselves? Women deserve respect and should treat themselves with dignity. Sure we can look at the bigger picture and say Fifty Shades of Grey is about women embracing their sexuality. However, the problem with this new movement is the weak foundation it’s being built on is doomed to failure.  In Martha Coolidge article she mentions nine things society can do to get more powerful female directors. They include:

“1. Men and women would have to learn to identify with female heroes and leaders. Why? Aside from opening up all the genres to women, we need to collectively imagine a woman as the ‘wunderkind’, the “girl wonder,” a director who tells stories the mass audience wants to see.

2. Young women would have to believe this was within their reach.

3. Thousands of women would have to train for directing careers and hone their craft.

4. Producers and studios would need to hire many more women than they do now and believe one of them could be “it”. They would need to judge women on the strength of their ideas and work, not on their sex appeal.

5. Producers couldn’t limit women to lower budget films, and should expect them to handle big crews, big budgets, big ideas and big stars.

6. All of us, parents and teachers starting in childhood, and later men in the business, would have to take women seriously and never ask them to play into gender based feminine behavior.

7. Competitive women in particular would have to want success as a director before anything else, like finding a man, or having a family. Successful directors are workaholics who define themselves by their careers and seek the company of their creative colleagues.

8. These women would have to feel secure with power, employing and delegating to others and making decisions alone. They should be encouraged to produce, write and direct, love competition, push past boundaries, and welcome any opportunity to overcome failure.

9. We all would have to embrace women in command, and accept eccentric behavior, and even tantrums; frequently caused by extreme pressure – not desirable, but tolerated in men. Most women directors learn to walk a delicate line between not being bitchy and not being wimpy to keep their jobs. Male directors don’t waste time or energy on this.[3]

Given the popularity of the E.L. James trilogy do you think women are ready to take these risks?

Please join us for a discussion on this topic Tuesday 10/2/2012@7pmE/12UTC

35 Responses to “Female Filmmakers Are Not Risk-Takers?”

  1. Comic Relief October 1, 2012 at 12:49 PM #


    With “Harry Potter”, “Twilight” and the “Hunger games” franchises I’m glad we’re beyond a point of questioning whether women have the talent or ability to compete as feature film developers.

    Yet I’m curious; are you claiming women directors avoid the challenges male directors naturally take on?

    • Open Book October 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM #

      Hi CR-

      No, I’m saying given the popularity of 50 Shades are women willing to lower their standards in order to get ahead? If so, What does it say about our work ethics? What I’m saying if we are going to say men must respect us as equals then we must be willing to put in the same amount of time and effort they do. Does that make sense?

      I thought what was so horrible about Jame’s comment is how proud she is of being lazy.

  2. Open Book October 1, 2012 at 1:03 PM #


    Here is the comment I’m referring to in my article.

    “JaySmack | September 19, 2012 6:59 PM

    Your example defeats itself, Korky. Canadian radio is a very different beast than american movies. It took 4 decades for, as you say, Canadian-derived music to achieve 40% of airtime. That’s far less than the “5% every year,” you’d like to mandate for female-written/directed fare for movie theaters. All the NATO would have to do is appeal to the studios to lean on Congress for loopholes, (which, as Barack Obama’s utter dependence on Hollywood support has shown they would EASILY get!) and your mandate is dead. Look, there’s no getting around the fact that the only way for female writers/directors to increase is for those women to do more quality work. You can whine all you want about the opportunities you feel Hollywood is –or is not– giving women, but the problem here is female filmmakers are not risk-takers. Think back to the 70’s, the wild west era of break-out filmmakers. How many were women. None I can think of. Today we have digital tech that makes it easier than every to make a movie. But consider the video-to-film “phenomenon” of the last 15 years, from Blair Witch to Paranormal Activity. Now ask yourself, how many of those were the work of women? How many of them could have been? The answer in both cases is none. Women aren’t concerned with making art. They see entertainment as a vehicle for female fantasy wish-fulfillment. Long as they get a bi-annual installment of Twilight or 50 Shades, Hunger Games or some other variety of daydream character choking on her own estrogen they’ll be docile and happy. Ask women when they’ll get off their behinds, up their game, and start doing work people actually want to see. Women now, outnumber men on college campuses. But as you’ve seen, your classes have less and less females in them for the same reasons computer science classes have seen the numbers of women in them decline steadily the last 20 years. Women gravitate to English Lit, Psychology and Nursing. When a field is too competitive or requires more than abstract emotions women are quickly weeded out. Social engineering won’t change this because women have to want it too, and they don’t. Instead of complaining about society or institutional sexism you ought to just focus on improving the bumper crop of female filmmakers in your midst. BTW, as the number of female network executives grows I expect that you’ll also be complaining soon if/when women’s numbers there outstrip their social percentage. I’ll be waiting to see.”

    • Open Book October 2, 2012 at 6:57 PM #

      Please let me know if u agree or disagree with this commenters theory?

      • ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 8:39 PM #

        Hmmm, at the moment all I can think of is that is one angry person, lol! I guess I need to wake up somemore before I give a more detailed opinion.

        I read the article by Martha though and I have a kind of off topic question. Is there no equal opportunity law in America? Surely there must be one.

        • Open Book October 2, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

          Yes! We have what is called the EEOC. http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/

          • ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 9:26 PM #

            Oh good! I thought there had to be one so I’m relieved to hear it! So I guess Martha is talking about a specific law for the media industry?

  3. Open Book October 2, 2012 at 6:53 PM #

    Hi Everyone,

    Welcome new and returning visitors to our discussion tonight. Please feel free to lurk or comment. All are welcome.

  4. Open Book October 2, 2012 at 7:35 PM #

    Here’s a great Interview with Fran Liebowitz

    • Open Book October 2, 2012 at 7:49 PM #

      This video is from the documentary “Public Speaking” by Martin Scorsese and here’s some info on F. Liebowitz.


      • ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 9:26 PM #

        She’s funny, lol!

  5. littlebells October 2, 2012 at 7:56 PM #

    Sorry I am late! Let me get caught up.

    • Open Book October 2, 2012 at 7:57 PM #

      Hi LB!

      No problem take your time.

  6. Open Book October 2, 2012 at 7:57 PM #


    Do u agree with Liebowitz that young artist should do something new?

  7. littlebells October 2, 2012 at 8:07 PM #

    James is an idiot who got damn lucky because of porn and Twilight.

    Here’s the thing with men respecting women in a superior position: women are mentally and emotionally built differently. But that’s what makes us who we are. Both men and women need to respect these differences and use our strenghts to encourage each other.

    Unfortunately women are doing nothing for their case if they support folks like James. Then they are going to have to fight harder against stereotypes.

    • Open Book October 2, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

      LB- ITA……. Well said..

      • ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 8:40 PM #

        *nodds head and claps* 🙂

  8. Open Book October 2, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

    Here’s another clip about what artist need to get inspired.

    • littlebells October 2, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

      I will have to wait till I get home to watch the video. 😦

      • Open Book October 2, 2012 at 8:32 PM #

        No problem. I really hope u can watch it later. I think u will enjoy it.

        • ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 9:29 PM #

          Her opinions are quite interesting. Whether they’re true or not, it’s good to think of things from many different angles to help grow and learn.

  9. ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 8:17 PM #

    Hello everyone!

    Sorry, I’m late too. I decided to have a nap and slept much longer than I wanted too. I’m going to be up all night now! 😦

    Anyway, very interesting article OB! It raises some good questions. 🙂

    • Open Book October 2, 2012 at 8:20 PM #

      No problem Oz! Take your time…

  10. Open Book October 2, 2012 at 8:19 PM #

    Do u agree that new ideas come from artist talking in bars? Do u think social media can replace this venue?

    • ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 8:53 PM #

      I think new ideas coming from anywhere is a good thing. Does it matter where that place is as long as solutions keep rolling in? With social media it would reach a wider range people too.

      Or did you mean something different and I like usual interpreted the question wrong, lol?

      • Open Book October 2, 2012 at 8:59 PM #

        LOL! No…Your answer is honest. Actually, if u watched the video of Liebowitz on NY and Warhol. She states that artist get ideas talking to each other in bars. She believes new ideas come from artist retreats basically.

        • Open Book October 2, 2012 at 9:03 PM #

          I meant to say she believe new ideas come form artist going on retreats taking breaks to retool and research etc… Far too often today people think they need to churn out stuff or else. When in fact to be innovative requires some study.

          • ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 9:35 PM #

            Yes, I understand you question. I’ve only just finished watching the videos (youtube is being mean today for me with it’s load time!) and I should of watch them before answering then I would know what you were talking about, lol! Doh!

            Yes, I agree with your point about artists taking breaks to refresh their ideas otherwise it just becomes a manufactured cookie mold line! It get’s boring and I would of thought boring for the artist too.

  11. Open Book October 2, 2012 at 8:31 PM #

    U may have noticed I’m trying to focus on the solution instead of the problem. Believe me I’m trying to hold my tongue on what I think of Kristen Stewart, Stephanie Myers and E.L. James. All of these women have sold themselves out and have resigned to being conventional. IMO They are not interested in being artist.

    • ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

      Lol! Well done! I’m too tired to go into full rant mode either (Yay, I may actually get back to sleep tonight) but I do agree with you!

      • Open Book October 2, 2012 at 8:55 PM #

        Well this is not an easy topic to digest. Its a tough pill to swallow when u see women lining up to endorse mediocrity. IMO I think women who are using romance novels to fill a void in their life is a whole other topic. I believe there are women who like to read different genres and aren’t looking to have relationships with fictional characters.

        • ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 9:38 PM #

          I agree whole heartedly!

  12. Open Book October 2, 2012 at 9:06 PM #

    Well Ozzie I’m going to go for the night. Thank u once again for your insightful comments and questions. I will come back later if u have anymore questions.

    Goodnight Everyone!!

    • ozzie20 October 2, 2012 at 9:39 PM #

      No problem. I wish I had woken up earlier as it has been a very interesting discussion! I’ll try to remember to come back tomorrow!

      Have a good night all! 🙂

  13. parisienne October 2, 2012 at 9:50 PM #

    Hi All!

    I’m so sorry I missed the discussion!!!! I shall return though. As I mentioned in the other post. Hollywood lacks originality. LB, James got lucky because she gave the public what they wanted. The fantasy of Robsten’s sex life. Robsten isn’t delivering so someone else will. She fed the need. She then turned around and made it into torture porn. How original. We need a sarcasm emoticon.

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