How Can Women Gain Influence in Hollywood?

I wrote my first piece for the NY Times the other day -- and it's up now! I was fortunate enough to be asked to be the lone male voice in the "Room For Debate" on How Can Women Gain Influence In Hollywood. It's an excellent discussion and a great group of commentators. It's also a question that action is not taken on enough. My piece begins:

Mainstream mass-market film culture is stuck in a deep rut. When making money is the top priority, people produce work and hire people who keep them in power. Call it risk mitigation or cowardice, the lack of women in Hollywood comes from the same root.

Industries are like people: they change only when the pain of the present outweighs the fear of the future. The stakes may be too great for Hollywood to ever accept that audiences and communities want something other than what they have already had. If audiences continue to behave like the March Hare in “Alice in Wonderland,” confusing "I like what I get" for “I get what I like,” neither films nor the entities that produce them will evolve.

Leadership is required to recognize that “When Harry Met Sally,” "Bridesmaids" and "Lost in Translation" are not outliers, but clear indicators of vast communities of underserved audiences. Unfortunately, the movie industry is designed to follow the competitor, creating perpetually redundant stories, creators and executives. The entire film business remains predicated on antiquated concepts of scarcity of content and control thereof. It should instead get ambitious and start to redesign itself for today’s reality of super-abundance of — and total access to — hugely varied content.

Please read the rest of it here.  And read all the pieces.

Demand Equality & Diversity at Cannes & All Film Festivals

To the Jurors of the Cannes Film Festival

You will spend the next 11 days watching 22 films that the programmers and leaders of the Cannes Film Festival deemed to be the worthiest of this year's competition.

The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most prestigious festivals in the world. Festival Films including last year's Oscar winner The Artist have gone on to have long and successful lives, and filmmakers' careers have been launched on the Croisette. As we all know, the opportunities to have your film seen on a world stage is invaluable.

For the 2012 edition, as with the 2010 edition, there are NO FEMALE DIRECTED FILMS in competition, and in the 64 years of the Festival only one woman -- Jane Campion -- has been awarded the Palme D'Or.

Festival director Thierry Fremaux responded to the recent manifesto from La Barbe - a French feminist action group - which decried the lack of women by saying:

"I select work on the basis of it actual qualities. We would never agree to select a film that doesn’t deserve it on the basis it was made by a woman…There is no doubt that greater space needs to be given to women within cinema. But it’s not at Cannes and in the month of May that this question needs to be raised, but rather all year and everywhere."

We call for Cannes, and other film festivals worldwide to commit to transparency and equality in the selection process of these films. We judge films as human beings, shaped by our own perspectives and experiences. It is vital, therefore, that there be equality and diversity at the point of selection.

Mr. Fremaux is correct in stating that women's rights must be addressed year round. We, the undersigned, encourage an industry-wide discussion about this issue, and call on the leaders throughout the industry to participate in and contribute to a dialogue about how we can, to quote Mr. Fremaux, "create a greater space for women within cinema."

Sign the petition and see all the signatures. https://www.change.org/petitions/cannes-film-festival-where-are-the-women-directors#

I have signed. Have you?