According to the latest Indie Women report by Dr. Martha Lauzen, executive director, documentaries screened at top-notch U.S. film festivals in 2021-22 employed a much higher percentage of women in key behind-the-scenes jobs than feature films from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.
The report (read it here) found that women made up 43% of those working as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers on documentaries, compared to 34% on feature films. It was also found that the percentage of women working in each of these job categories was higher in documentaries than in narrative feature films.
“Documentaries continue to employ a higher percentage of female filmmakers than feature films, and independent films offer more opportunities for women than larger-budget features,” Lauzen said.
For independently and domestically produced feature films submitted to major festivals in 2021-22, women accounted for 39% of directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors and cinematographers – up one percentage point from the previous report.
For documentaries and feature films, women performed best as producers (44%), followed by executive producers (42%), directors (40%), writers (35%), editors (33%) and cinematographers (21%). The worst performers were women composers, who accounted for only 17% of these jobs, and performed better on documentaries (20%) than feature films (13%).
Since the last report, female directors are up 1 percentage point, screenwriters are down 1 percentage point, executive producers are up 4 percentage points, editors are down 4 percentage points, and cinematographers are down 2 points. The proportion of female producers remained the same.
The report also found that women are more likely to land top jobs in independent films with at least one female director. For these films, 67% of the writers were women, compared to just 10% for films directed exclusively by men. For films with at least one female director, women made up 50% of the editors, but for films with all male directors, they made up only 19%. On films with at least one female director, women made up 34% of the cinematographers, but on films with all male directors, they made up only 10%. And when films had at least one female director, women made up 23% of the composers, compared to just 12% for films directed only by men.
For documentaries, women accounted for 44% of directors, three percentage points more than in the previous report; 36% of the authors, one percentage point more; 48% of executive producers, up three percentage points; 49% of producers, down one percentage point; 34% of editors, down six percentage points, and 22% of cinematographers, down four percentage points.
The study examined 9,960 credits on 730 films in 2021-22 and more than 105,360 credits on more than 10,200 films from 2008-22. The study included US feature and documentary films screened/streamed at the festivals, including those in and out of competition.
Film festivals included in the survey include AFI Fest, Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Cinequest, Cleveland, Florida, Hamptons, Nashville, New York, Rhode Island, St. Louis, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Slamdance, Sundance, SXSW and Tribeca.