Lack of Women Behind-the-Scenes in Hollywood Films

1eBy Tamara Tindugan

Mostly men work behind the camera as creators of Hollywood films. The recent Nevada Women’s Film Festival shed light on this disparity. Ultimately the gender inequality that exists has an influence on the material that gets made.

“In 2015 women comprised 19 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic-grossing films,” according to a study “Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 100, 250 and 500 Films of 2015” from San Diego State University.

This is a 2 percent increase over the prior year, according to that study, but the lack of women working in this industry is apparent.

College of Southern Nevada’s Women’s Alliance took part in hosting the second annual Nevada Women’s Film Festival at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve on March 4 to 6 to celebrate females in film.

“It brought a lot of attention to the issue,” said Shirley Johnston, CSN professor and committee chair member of the Women’s Alliance. “It is one of our goals to bring it to broader attention and to make people think about what the role of women should be in this work environment.”

Deborah Richards, a four-time Student Emmy award-winning independent filmmaker and CSN student, does not believe the lack of women in film is Hollywood’s fault but rather society’s fault.

“I think it is difficult to point the finger of blame at Hollywood as if Hollywood were an individual,” Richards said. “I blame society and a world of capitalism on steroids.”

“Of course [the industry] is changing but there is a real boys’ club in the film world,” said Nikki Corda, executive director and founder of Nevada Women’s Film Festival. “Women are not always made to feel welcome and it is more difficult for them to break through.”

Corda explained, “Part of the problem is women do not always seek out positions, which are traditionally male dominated.”


“Besides the fact that it is simply unfair for women to be underrepresented, I think women bring something to the artistic process that is needed for balance,” Corda said. “Not all women like romantic comedies and not all men like violent, video-game-style action films. But there is a different perspective that women offer and a unique life experience that we see in women’s stories and the way they approach the craft.”

The women that work these positions can shape content and characters on screen. Stacy Smith, associate professor at University of Southern California, researches the impacts of women in film and correlates their influences to more progressive characters seen in movies. For example Nora Ephron wrote and directed “Julie & Julia,” which showcased two leading female characters as chefs.


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