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December 1, 2014

The most employed women in the British film industry

Female director with clapperboardLast 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 writing credits in UK film 2003-13

Directors

Women in the British film industry - Gurinder ChadhaWomen in the British film industry - Mary McGuckianJust 11% of the people who have directed two or more UK films 2003-13 are women.

# female directors# all directorsNameCredits
17Mary McGuckian5
234Gurinder Chadha3
234Debbie Isitt3
234Sally Potter3
234Penny Woolcock3
234Andrea Arnold3
756Mairi Fraser Sutherland2
756Joan Carr-Wiggin2
756Vicky Jewson2
756Madonna2
756Deepa Mehta2
756Inés París2
756Isabel Coixet2

Producers

Women in the British film industry - Liza ChasinWomen in the British film industry - Tessa RossWomen 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 (i.e. those who have produced at least 11 UK feature films 2003-13).

# female producers# all producersNameCredits
12Tessa Ross39
211Liza Chasin24
313Christine Langan23
313Carola Ash23
525Charlotte Walls19
632Debra Hayward18
632Julia Blackman18
632Sam Taylor18
632Gillian Berrie18
1043Linda James16
1145Zorana Piggott15
1145Rosa Romero15
1360Lizzie Francke13
1360Liza Marshall13
1360Gail Egan13
1360Katherine Butler13

Screenwriters

Women in the British film industry - Jane GoldmanWomen in the British film industry - JK RowlingNovelist J.K. Rowling is the woman with the most number of writing credits in UK film 2003-13. I’ve included all writing credits, hence the appearance of J.K. Rowling and Jane Austin. However, if we look strictly at screenplay credits, as opposed to source material, then Jane Goldman (‘Kick-ass’ and ‘X-men’) and Abi Morgan (‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘Brick Lane’) share the top spot.

# female writers# all writersNameCredits
15J.K. Rowling6
212Jane Goldman5
212Abi Morgan5
427Mary McGuckian4
427Gurinder Chadha4
652Debbie Isitt3
652Sally Potter3
652Andrea Arnold3
652Penny Woolcock3
652Joan Carr-Wiggin3
652Mairi Fraser Sutherland3
652Jane Austen3
652Mark O'Rowe3
652Emma Thompson3
652Moira Buffini3
652Bridget O'Connor3

Epilogue – Most employed women in the British film industry

I used the BFI’s tracking data for films made between 2003 and 2013 to define what was and wasn’t a UK film.  I have no doubt that some of these classifications will be disputed as (a) the BFI are not perfect and (b) film can be a subjective field.  If any of the people listed above feel aggrieved that their number of credits is incorrect then please do drop me a line. This research looks at number of credits, not number of days worked.  Consequently, someone who worked one day apiece on ten films will get ten credits whereas someone else who performed ten days work on a single film will be listed as having one credit.  There is little I can do to account for this possible unfairness.

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9 Responses

  1. casandra2406 December 1, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    Thanks Stephen – very interesting and timely

  2. Olivia Hetreed December 1, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    A very interesting idea but I think you’d have to tweak your criteria somewhat to make your list meaningful. Almost all your producers are in fact execs handing out subsidised funds eg Tessa Ross at Film Four and Christine Langan at BBC Films. They do (or did) a great job but they are not producers in a practical sense. If you looked at actual producers rather than execs or line producers the picture would look much less rosy, though still probably better than directors or writers.
    And having JK Rowling on your writer list I would also question – as you have implicitly done in your comment.
    Out of interest, I wonder if a list of male writers would be as dominated by directors?

    • Stephen Follows December 1, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      Hi Olivia,

      You’re absolutely right – any set of lists like this will be somewhat arbitrary. The choice of films (dates and budget ranges) will influence the results hugely, as will defining what types of writers, producers and directors we are to count. In situations such as this I tend to go for the option which requires the fewest ‘choices’ on my part. Not through laziness, but in the pursuit of minimising bias or political judgments.

      Defining a producer is tricky, partly because there are so many types but also because different organisations classify producers differently. An ‘associate producer’ in one system could be an ‘executive producer’ or ‘assistant producer’ in other systems. You can see more about this here stephenfollows.com/how-many-producers-does-it-take-to-make-a-film. It’s a bit clearer with writers but there is still some grey areas.

      For today’s research I decided to group all producers (as shown on IMDb) and use the WGA rules for who should be credited. Hopefully the transparent nature of my research should allow anyone who doesn’t agree with these classifications to see what’s been done and take the outcomes with how ever much salt is needed!

      Stephen

  3. Sally McEnallay December 2, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    Hi Stephen, interesting but do you have any comments on DPs. There are some fantastic female cinematographers coming up, but they hardly get any exposure.

    • Stephen Follows December 2, 2014 at 9:58 am #

      No pun intended? 😉

      I don’t have these kinds of league tables for DoPs, mostly because of the time it takes to research and create them. That said, I have previously looked at the percentage of UK cinematographers who are women. It was 7.8% across all UK films made between 2009 and 2013. stephenfollows.com/what-percentage-of-a-british-film-crew-is-female.

      I do want to look at the topic so maybe it’s something for a future research project.

    • davidvsgoliathproductions December 3, 2014 at 4:39 am #

      Who are these fantastic female cinematographers?

  4. Kathy Speirs May 4, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    11% isn’t great. I do hope that this highlights the greater efforts the BFI and other public financiers need to make to discriminate positively for more Female driven films to get made across the UK.

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