Major new study into gender inequality among UK film and TV writers

Almost exactly two years ago, Alexis Kreager and I published a big report into the gender inequality faced by film directors working in the UK film industry.

Soon after it was published, we were approached by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) about studying the plight of screenwriters, both in the film and television industries.  This led to the WGGB (along with the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society – ALCS) supporting us in carrying out a deep data dive into the experiences of UK writers.

The full 177-page report can be downloaded here, and I have written a brief summary in the article below.

Download the full report

You can read more about the Writers’ Guild and ALCS’ campaign connected to the report at writersguild.org.uk/equalitywrites

The report covers both …

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How does the use of the terms ‘cinematographer’ and ‘director of photography’ differ?

When I was starting out in film, I always heard the head of the camera department being referred to as either “DoP” (pronounced dee-oh-pea) or “DP” (pronounced dee-pea), both of which are short for director of photography.  As I met more filmmakers, I learned that the same role is often called the cinematographer (pronounced… well, the way it’s written).

Today, I thought I’d take a look at these two job titles and try to make sense of where each is used.

What is a cinematographer / director of photography?

In most real-world situations, the two job titles are interchangeable. Simply put, this person is responsible for crafting the film’s visual style, or ‘look’.  They report directly to the director and have a large number of people answering to them.  …

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How has the average Hollywood movie crew changed?

In the past, I’ve looked at how big a movie crew can get, for both UK films and Hollywood movies. But I was recently asked by a reader how the composition of such crews has changed over time. Which departments are getting larger? Which jobs are on the rise and which are waning?

To answer this, I looked at the credits of the top 200 US-grossing movies of each of the past 20 years (1997-2016), giving me a dataset of 4,000 movies.

The big picture

In the past two decades, the number of crew members on a top-grossing movie has grown by 77%, from 350 in 1997 to 620 in 2016. If we group those crew credits into stages of production, we …

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A major new study into gender inequality in the UK film industry

As regular readers will know, for the last nine months I’ve been working on a deep and comprehensive study of gender inequality in the UK film industry.  Today I’m pleased to be able to share the results (although less pleased with the content of the results!). 

Download the full report

You can read the full report by clicking on the button above and I have summarised the key findings in this article. 

The report is broken down into three main sections…

  • Studying the current situation. We studied every feature film shot in the UK between 2005 and 2014 inclusive, looking at the gender of directors as it related to genre, budget, audience reaction, critical reviews and box office performance. We also looked at the gender of other crew on those films, …
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    UK films with public funding hire more women

    Today’s article is an offshoot of two strands of research I’ve been working on over the past few years – gender in the film industry and UK films with public funding.  I looked at the percentage of female writers, producers and directors within UK films, focusing on how the female representation changes between films supported by a public body and those that are not.

    In summary…

    • 20% of UK films shot 2009-13 received some form of public funding
    • Across all UK films 2009-13, women accounted for 14% of directors, 27% of producers and 15% of writers
    • On publicly-backed films, women account for 20% of directors, 32% of producers and 24% of writers
    • The BFI fund a disproportionately large number of dramas, biopics and period dramas
    • The BFI …
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    Are men in romantic movies older than their female co-stars?

    Last week, Oscar-nominated actress Maggie Gyllenhaal was widely quoted as saying that (by Hollywood standards) she is already “too old” to play the on-screen love interest of a 55-year-old man in romantic movies.  She’s 37.  Following this, I have been asked by a few regular readers to crunch the numbers and look at whether there has historically been an age gap between male and female actors in romantic films.

    So I built up a dataset of 422 romantic films (“rom coms” and romantic dramas) that grossed over $1m at the US box office and were released between 1984 and 2014.  I then determined which two actors were the main hetrosexual on-screen couple (details of the methodology is at the bottom of the article) and looked …

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    The most employed women in the British film industry

    Last week I looked at the most employed people in the UK film industry.  This week I thought I would merge this approach with a topic I have written a lot about previously, namely gender. I took a look at the women in the British film industry who have the most credits over the last 10 years across all UK films budgeted over £500k. In summary…

    • 11% of the people who have directed two or more UK films 2003-13 are women
    • Women in the British film industry are far better represented in producing than in writing and directing
    • 25 of the top 104 UK producers are women
    • Novelist J.K. Rowling is the woman with the most number of writing credits in UK film 2003-13
    Directors

    Just 11% of …

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    What percentage of a UK film crew is female?

    Last month, I published a report into what percentage of crews on the top US grossing films of the past 20 years are women.  I found that, on average, women made up only 23% of a typical film crew and in some jobs such as cinematography and composing, it was around 2%. The results were reported widely and sparked a healthy debate about the causes and what, if anything, should be done.  

    One consequence was that I was asked by a number of people what the situation is in the UK. This project was far too large to fit into a single blog post, so I’ve written it up as a PDF report. It spans 17 pages and breaks down the results in much …

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    What percentage of a film crew is female?

    Today I am releasing the results of a long-term project. For a while, I’ve been looking at the numbers behind female film crew members over the past 20 years.

    The results are pretty shocking, and should hopefully serve as a wake up call to parts of the industry.  I don’t believe that the majority of the industry is fundamentally sexist or anti-women but when you look at these results, especially over time, it’s plain to see that something is wrong and it isn’t fixing itself.

    Download the full report now, for free. This project was far too large to fit into a single blog post, so I’ve written it up as a PDF report. It spans 16 pages and breaks down the results in much more detail. The …

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    How good are movies which pass the Bechdel Test?

    I should start this article with a personal note – I don’t like what I’ve found. I always try to approach data impartially and not look for certain results. Inevitably, this sometimes leads to results which challenge my beliefs or my opinions.  I am a firm believer that the representation of women on screen is often woefully poor and needs addressing.

    Last week the guys at FiveThirtyEight published a great analysis of the box office performance of films which pass the Bechdel Test. My first thought was ‘damn’ as I have also been working on a similar study. They have been extremely thorough and it’s well worth reading their article. In order to avoid repeating their work I have shifted my research …

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