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Female Screenwriters – Don’t Worry About Statistics!

 

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If you’re one of the many female screenwriters out there depressed by the latest statistics out of Hollywood which seem to indicate women are becoming more, rather than less, marginalized in film, don’t despair! 

How Are Female Screenwriters Doing In Hollywood Today?

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the statistics released by the WGA in April, stating that female screenwriters make up only 15 percent of employed WGA writers, falling from 17 percent in 2009.

Women screenwriter’s wages also fell to 77 cents on the dollar that male screenwriters make, from 82 cents in 2009…

This lack of employment of female screenwriters has sparked much fervor online recently, even inciting Meryl Streep to fund a mentorship program to support women screenwriters over the age of 40.

Women directors have also been feeling the pain, with the ACLU reporting in May that fewer female directors are being hired now than 20 years ago.

Sexism and ageism have always been issues in Hollywood, so why all of the outrage as of late? I believe it’s because while there has been social progress in other areas, like gay rights, women’s progress, at least when it comes to the entertainment industry, seems to be going backwards.

What’s happened to all those gains made in past decades?

Despite female screenwriters penning blockbuster hit films like BRIDESMAIDS, THE HEAT, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, LEGALLY BLONDE, and even E.T., remnants of a stigma still float around that women “aren’t funny,” “can’t write action,” and tend to write “soft” niche stories that don’t appeal to the masses.

With the barrage of tent-pole superhero movies and action franchises being produced, there seems to be a stereotype that these are “guy’s movies” and women screenwriters don’t have the chops to write them.

female screenwriters

Female Screenwriters Moving Forwards

So what can we female screenwriters do to get past these unfair and untrue stereotypes? Well, for one, don’t buy into them.

Look all around and see that there are successful female writers and role models everywhere:

Amy Schumer, Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and legends like Carol Burnett, Lily Tomlin, and Lucille Ball have all shown for decades that women are indeed funny.

And the success of Nicole Perlman with GUARDIANS, and Katie Dippold with THE HEAT shows that women can write action at a blockbuster level.

Let’s not forget that the source material for some of the biggest and most profitable tent-pole franchises in recent history—THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TWILIGHT, and FIFTY SHADES OF GREY–were all written by women.

Hollywood seems to gloss over that when suggesting that women don’t write stories that appeal to the masses.

On top of the sexism, there’s also the concern of ageism in Hollywood, where it seems that women are almost expected to be put out to pasture after the age of 40. Don’t buy into this stereotype either. Storytelling has no age limit.

Hollywood has long been a boys’ club, but despite the frustrating statistics, if you’re a female screenwriter, continue to march forward and put your work out into the world, and keep on disproving all those false stereotypes!

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short film ideasRebecca Norris is a produced screenwriter and script consultant at Script Reader Pro. She started her career as an improviser and comedy writer, graduating from the Second City Conservatory in Chicago, and has performed nationally, namely at the acclaimed Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and ACME Comedy Theater in LA. As a writer and producer, her films have played the national festival circuit, screened at the Cannes Film Festival, have won multiple Audience and Best Film awards, and have been distributed on TV, DVD, and PBS.  

3 Comments

  1. Marguerite Fair says:

    Thank you for the inspirational information! I am very pro-active in promoting my projects and always encourage other women to do the same. Onward and upward ladies’!

  2. monique gramby says:

    Coupled with this is the increasing flow of diverse television shows and features. Also female-driven films are opening in the top 10 which hasn’t been the case before. Proving that people want to see more films and television shows from a female perspective. But we still have a ways to go. But like you stated, we have to keep pushing forward. We need to continue to support each other and focus on what will be accomplished. This nut will be cracked. Thank you for the rally!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Well said Monique.

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