Colin Trevorrow “Gender Imbalance” Tweet Reignites Tentpole Directing Controversy
Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 at 10:00 am
It was almost a banner year for Colin Trevorrow. Following his Sundance film festival hit Safety Not Guaranteed, he came out with his second major directorial effort, this summer’s Jurassic World. The fourth film of the franchise beat Marvel’s The Avengers‘s record for the number one weekend opening film at the worldwide box office. He was then recently named as director of Star Wars: Episode IX.
But now, the director finds himself in a bit of hot water after he attempted to address the issue of gender inequality in Hollywood. This has been an on-going issue, with many fighting for gender and racial diversity on the creative and performance front. In an attempt to explain this problem, Trevorrow has found himself on the receiving end of much criticism. After the jump see what he had to say, and how some are responding to his Twitter post.
Before we dissect and skewer the following tweet, here it is, in full context.
Now let’s break some of this down. According to Trevorrow, “Many of the top female directors in our industry are not interested in doing a piece of studio business for its own sake. These filmmakers have clear voices and stories to tell that don’t necessarily involve superheroes or spaceships or dinosaurs.” To be fair, Selma‘s Ava DuVernayturned down the chance to direct Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, a move in which I fully support. Marvel wants to tell their story, which has to fall and fit into their connective cinematic universe. Of course, this would have prevented DuVernay from telling a story she wants to tell. So I give her a lot of credit for turning down directing a superhero movie so that she can maintain her creative identity.
Here’s Hysteria director Tanya Wexler’s response to Trevorrow’s tweet,
@colintrevorrow I cannot begin to tell you how naive & wrong it is. I have all the desire in the world. I would kill to make a blockbuster.
Let’s for a moment give Trevorrow the benefit of the doubt that he simply chose the wrong words. In the context of things, he isn’t completely wrong. I had the chance to interview the director during the Jurassic World press junket back in June, and the guy knows his stuff. Again, I fully support a female director’s decision to decline any offer to direct a Marvel movie, not because of the recognition she will receive for directing a superhero movie, but for protecting her artistic integrity. This is something Patty Jenkins had to go through when she was nearly sitting at the director’s chair for Thor: The Dark World, especially after Natalie Portman championed for her. Obviously, Jenkins did not get the job, but she did end up signing on to direct Wonder Woman. Which is great! We finally get a female voice in the male-dominated superhero genre.
Point being, there is a real big problem that needs to be addressed. There are many great female directors out there who are just as talented and some maybe even more talented than him who aren’t given the opportunity to direct a tentpole film. Trevorrow also doesn’t offer any solutions to this problem. It may be because it is a bit above his pay grade, but his tweet does bring the inequalities back into the light. And not just on gender inequalities, but also racial ones, too. Take a look back at the shortlist of directors for superhero films that we’ve reported on, hardly any female names are on them. So what does this say about the studios who look for someone to direct their films?
So maybe it takes a tweet to get studio heads to address the problem. Or maybe it doesn’t. But the more we talk about it, hopefully more attention the subject will get.
Finally, Trevorrow responded to /Film writer Angie Han’s coverage regarding the matter. Here’s what he told them,
The last thing I’d want to communicate is that I don’t acknowledge this problem exists. I think the problem is glaring and obvious. And while it does make me a little uncomfortable to be held up as an example of everything that’s wrong, this is an important dialogue to have, so let’s have it.
Would I have been chosen to direct Jurassic World if I was a female filmmaker who had made one small film? I have no idea. I’d like to think that choice was based on the kind of story I told and the way I chose to tell it. But of course it’s not that simple. There are centuries-old biases at work at every level, within all of us. And yes, it makes me feel shitty to be perceived as part of this problem, because it’s an issue that matters so much to me. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t talk about it in the first place.
I do stand by the idea that a great many people in the film industry want this to change. I have made attempts at every turn to help turn the tide, and I will continue to do it. When I got the script for Lucky Them, released last year, I advocated hard for my friend Megan Griffiths to direct. She did, and she made a wonderful film (see it please). On my next project, Book of Henry, nearly all of my department heads and producers are women. Will I give a female filmmaker the same chance Steven Spielberg gave me someday? Let’s hope that when I do, it won’t even be noteworthy. It will be the status quo.
I came home from New York tonight and saw my daughter again after a week away. This had come up earlier in the day, so it was on my mind. I did think a lot about how vital it is for me to empower her now, even at age 3. To encourage her to go out and grab whatever it is she wants in life, to lead. It starts with the constant, steady assurance that the top job is attainable.
Becoming a filmmaker is not easy. It’s years of rejection and disappointment and it’s very hard, often grueling work. The job takes insane levels of endurance and sometimes delusional amounts of self-confidence. All I can do is raise one girl with that kind of fearlessness, then let her choose her path. That’s my contribution. The rest is up to her.
(Should I mention we need more female chefs? Different article.)