Although created half of the country’s population, women are still underrepresented behind the scenes in the American independent film industry. According to the study “Independent Women: Behind-the-Scenes Jobs of Women in US Independent Film, 2021-22” published today by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen—CEO of Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University — women make up just 39% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on independent films. (narrative and documentary) to be screened or streamed at major film festivals in the US from July 2021 to June 2022.
That percentage fluctuates depending on the type of film, the location, and if there is at least one woman in the director’s chair on the project. According to “Indie Women,” documentary space is on par with narrative space, with women making up 43 percent of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers. on documentaries instead of 34% of those working on narrative features.
Dr. Lauzen found: “Documentaries continue to employ a higher proportion of female filmmakers than narrative films, and independent films offer more opportunities for women than larger-budget films “. Film festivals screen or stream almost equally, on average, of documentaries directed by women compared with men, and the percentage of women working in every role the study examined on documentaries. higher than the narrative film.
However, the narrative for narrative features is somewhat bleak. On average, film festivals in the US have six films directed by at least one woman for every 10 films directed by men. Women are best represented as producers in the narrative space, accounting for 38% of producers in those films between 2021-2022. However, this is down from the 40% of women who served as producers in the independent film industry between 2020–2021.
For work, women are least represented in the visual and audio space, as opposed to writing, directing and producing. While women make up 33% of executive producers, 34% of writers and 35% of directors, women make up just 20% of cinematographers in both narrative and documentary films between 2021-2022. The songwriting space is even gloomier, where women made up just 17% of all indie composers over the past year.
Lauzen examined 9,960 credits across 730 movies from 2021-2022, comparing them to more than 105,360
credits for more than 10,200 films between 2008 and 2022, with a focus on popular titles and film festivals. The study did not include any data on gender mismatch or non-binary representation in the independent film space.
The good news: Lauzen found that when a film has at least one female director, the percentage of women working in other behind-the-scenes positions such as writing, editing, and cinematography is essentially the proportion of female directors. significantly higher than films directed by men themselves. These are women who support other women.