“There aren’t enough qualified female directors.” This excuse is all too common in conversations about the lack of films and series directed by women, and suggests that the problem isn’t related to sexism or unconscious bias, it’s the fact that there aren’t enough experienced women ready to step behind the camera and take these jobs. Emmy and Oscar-nominated director Lesli Linka Glatter
is calling bullshit on this ill-informed argument.
In a new interview with Variety, the “Homeland
” helmer was asked about the lack of parity among female directors working in TV. “The excuse often heard from male showrunners is that there aren’t enough qualified female directors,” interviewer Debra Birnbaum observed. “I hear that all the time and I don’t understand that,” Glatter said. “There are many. The pool is wide and deep.”
Glatter recognized the importance of initiatives offering novice female filmmakers opportunities, but emphasized that a talent pool does already exist. “It’s great to nourish new talent and new directors, but there’s a whole level of midcareer directors we don’t want to forget about either,” she explained. “I have to say, I think it’s an excuse. I think if you are only looking at a handful of directors who work all the time, you’re not looking deep enough. Especially now when you can pick up a camera and make a movie.”
In the 2016–17 TV season women accounted for just 17 percent of directors.
As for who gets the chance to break into the industry and get their first TV directing credit, we can turn to research conducted by the DGA. In the 2015–16 season “153 directors who had never worked in episodic television were hired by employers (studios, networks, and executive producers) — 15 percent were ethnic minorities, and 23 percent were women.” The rest were white men. If hiring a first-time episodic director to helm an episode of your show is a risk, these stats paint a picture of who studios, networks, and EPs have the most faith in.
Eighty-five percent of shows in the 2016–17 season had no women directors. It’s likely that, if questioned about this fact, higher-ups working on these series would offer the “not enough qualified female directors” line. And yet shows like “Jessica Jones
,” “Queen Sugar
,” and “Harlots” have managed to produce entire seasons of television directed exclusively by women. And Ryan Murphy
has ensured that at least half of all director gigs on his shows, which include “American Horror Story
” and “American Crime Story
,” go to either women or minority candidates, which he defines as people of color or members of the Lgbtq community.
There are also resources, such as The Director List, that can serve as a reference to those looking to make their sets more female-friendly.
Last year Glatter was honored by the Crystal + Lucy Awards and the American Film Institute. Her many credits include episodes of “Mad Men
,” “The Walking Dead
,” “Nashville,” “Gilmore Girls
,” “Freaks and Geeks
,” “The Good Wife
,” “House,” “ER
,” “The West Wing
,” and “Twin Peaks
,” and the feature “Now and Then
Quote of the Day: Lesli Linka Glatter
Says the Pool of Female Directors Is “Wide and Deep” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.