The subject of women being essentially locked out of the biggest feature film franchises has become a very hot topic of late, and not before time. It is 2015, after all. Thanks to advances made in all other areas of industry, politics and socio-economics, it is frankly embarrassing that Hollywood studios still routinely hire white men to write and direct their giant tentpoles.
We live in an age where women have the opportunity to run countries, achieve dizzying heights in scientific exploration and invention, and orbit the Earth in a space station. Even Saudi Arabia has just begun to let women run for public office – and yet, Hollywood would rather place its most valuable assets in the hands of an experienced male, than a qualified woman. Of those offending franchises, Star Wars was, until recently, one of the most high profile.
Writers of Star Wars, historically, have included George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan, Jonathan Hales, J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt – all men. Leigh Brackett – a woman – did work on a script for The Empire Strikes Back, but she died and her work was apparently discarded. Future Star Wars writers, already hired, include Rian Johnson, Gary Whitta, Chris Weitz and Jon Kasdan. Another testosterone drenched category.
Directors of Star Wars past include George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, and Richard Marquand, with J.J. Abrams at the helm of the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Future Star Wars instalments that are confirmed will be directed by Rian Johnson (who has made three films), Colin Trevorrow (who has made three films), Gareth Edwards (who has made two films), and Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who have made four films).
Granted, one of Colin Trevorrow’s three films was the highly lucrative Jurassic World, but the fact that he landed that job based on just two films perfectly demonstrates the issue at hand – which is that less qualified directors (who just happen to be, in general, white men) are winning high profile, big budget directing jobs over more qualified directors (who happen to be women) – Star Wars included.
This was never more apparent than when LucasFilm announced that Josh Trank would be directing a Star Wars instalment on the basis of just one, independent movie (Chronicle). As we now know, common sense prevailed after the release of Fantastic Four, and the Trank Star War was quickly re-assigned – but the fact that it was a serious possibility for an albeit brief time clearly demonstrates the hiring ethos of the franchise producers.