ADG Perspective

November-December 2015

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from the president 12 P E R S P E C T I V E | N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 WOMEN IN MOVIES by Mimi Gramatky, Art Directors Guild President When Lucille Ball accepted her Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Film in 1977, she said that she wished for a time when awards designated specifically for women would become unnecessary because men and women would be given equal opportunities, treated and judged equally. Sitting in the audience when Lucy received her award as a young female Art Director, opportunities for me were few and far between. A friend even told me she had heard a production manager state that he wouldn't ever want to hire a female Art Director. This year at the Emmy ® ceremony, Viola Davis began her Best Actress acceptance speech with "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity." Nearly forty years have passed since Lucy's speech and clearly we are far from achieving the industry she envisioned. As reported in the study "Inequality in 700 Popular Films" released August 2015 by the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, researcher and founding director of the initiative, Stacy L. Smith describes the lack of diversity in popular films as an epidemic. The report studied one hundred of the top-grossing films from 2007–2014. The numbers are staggering. Women had just 30.2% of all speaking roles. Only 11% were gender balanced, featuring females in roughly half of the speaking parts. Of the 779 directors during this time, only 28 were women. In 2014, the top 100 movies were white: 73.1% of all speaking roles were played by white talent; they were straight: only 19 characters were gay, lesbian or bisexual, none were transgender; and they were young: only 19.9% of female characters were 40 to 64 years old. "The picture that film presents is one that bears little resemblance to our nation's demography," said Dr. Smith. "By examining trends over time, it is clear that no progress has been made either on screen or behind the camera when it comes to representing reality. This report reflects a dismal record of diversity for not just one group, but for females, people of color and the LGBT community." What about below-the-line equality, specifically, the Art Directors Guild? In 2014, the ADG initiated 109 members, 29 women and 80 men, that's 26.6% vs. 73.4%, so our statistics are not any better than performers but we are considerably better than directors. We should not, however, lose sight of Lucy's wish. This year, four exceptional women are being inducted into the ADG Hall of Fame: Carmen Dillon, Patricia Norris, Dorothea Holt Redmond and Dianne Wager; and Oscar ® -winning Production Designer Patrizia von Brandenstein will receive the ADG Lifetime Achievement Award. Previously, these awards have been bestowed predominantly on males. Members have also elected two females into leadership positions: Marcia Hinds, Chairperson of the Art Directors Council, and me, Mimi Gramatky, President of the Art Directors Guild—both previously male-occupied positions. Graduate film schools have enjoyed an increase in female Production Design students, AFI's whole class of Production Designers this year are women. Our sister guild, the International Cinematographers, just hired Rebecca Rhine as their National Executive Director, replacing Bruce Doering who is retiring after thirty years. Another sister local, the Motion Picture Editors Guild, has Cathy Repola as their Western Executive Director. Cathy has also been named chairperson of the newly formed Women's Committee for the IATSE International. There still may be opportunities designated specifically for women but we are making progress. My wish is that we are finally at a place where we may never again hear the words, "Who'd ever want to hire a female Art Director."

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