From the one on one interviews, with a male and a female, I found out there was a clear differentiation between what my participants expected from male directed films and female directed films. Male directed films were expected to be better constructed, epic stories with real life significance and depth. When asked why this was, the 40 year old male answered ‘On awards shows, men are always shown making the films that win the best picture awards such as Beautiful Mind or Gladiator. Women directors seem to like making predictable films with romantic storylines’.
Both male and female were surprised to learn many action movies were directed by women, e. g. ‘Deep Impact’ by Mimi Leder. In an interview with Parkinson, Meg Ryan talked about her experiences on the set of her new film ‘In the Cut’. She describes working with Campion vividly, ‘I wasn’t ready for Jane Campion, the director. Jane is a very strong minded and uncompromising artist who has a profound interest in investigation’. Meg Ryan has worked with many famous directors, and the respect she gives to Jane Campion shows that she is just as good as any of them.
As women directors are still rare, their gender is frequently used as a marketing tool in the selling of their films. I found even when the female director in question is not working with stereotypically ‘feminine’ material (Jane campion’s In the Cut and Kathryn Bigelow’s strange days), there is often a temptation to search for ‘feminist’ meanings within the context and attribute them to the director’s gender. This leads to the question of whether a female directed film can ever be considered mainstream.
Leslie Felperin states ‘most women want to be known as filmmakers first, women filmmakers second or none at all’. They want the opportunity to do the work and have their work valued in the same way as a man’s work of equal quality. According to Linda serger (When women call the shots), ‘Women generally don’t want power in the traditional way, such as wanting power over others but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be in leadership positions’. In a Stephen Applebaum interview with Jane Campion on www. bbc. co.
uk, when talking about tough being a woman director is, she replied ‘Women today are dealing with both their independence and also the fact that their lives are built around finding and satisfying the romantic models we grew up with’. Her personal views on women directors are ‘To deny female directors, as I suspect is happening in the States, is to deny feminine vision’. With women directors earning $0. 74 to every male $1, there is not equality yet, however progress is being made. To address the problem of under representation of woman in the industry, a new mentoring scheme Directing Change was set up.
This scheme allows two woman directors a year to work alongside an internationally recognised feature film director during a major production with Jane Campion and many other famous names signing up to be mentors. Although before change can take place, stereotypes about roles and status in the industry have to change, it is hoped that this is a step into recognising the work of aspiring women directors. Overall I find that even though the treatment of women directors is improving, being considered equal to their male counterparts is a long way from being achieved.
Gender will always be an obstacle for women everywhere but a number of those are jumping the hurdle, such as Jane Campion are increasing everywhere. In the end, one should not forget that my research was only the start. My sample was very small, the sampling procedure very small, thus generalisations would be unreasonable to make. None the less the research can be claimed valid since I tried to be objective, collected both quantitative and qualitative data and was able to compare my research to existing theories and evidence.