Then, as the discussion of women in film reached necessarily cacophonous proportions, Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy broached the subject – presumably having been aware of the criticism of sexism in big budget film projects.
“I had not had one single phone call from a woman telling me that she really, really wants to direct a Star Wars movie. They need to be the ones picking up the phone and saying, ‘Hey, let me tell you what Star Wars means to me and how much I could do with it.”
Firstly, it’s almost amusing that this could be how it works – that if you want to direct, or write, a Star Wars film, you give Kathleen Kennedy a call and tell her that you really, really want to do it. Secondly, perhaps this indicates the sexism that operates on a deeper level within the industry. What has prevented women from making that call to Kathleen Kennedy in the past? Is it an assumption – based on years of being discriminated against – that they wouldn’t have a shot anyway? Is it their agents who aren’t pushing them for those jobs?
Whatever that obstacle was, it appears that those few words from Kathleen Kennedy has wiped it away, because there are now, suddenly, four women directors and three women writers in contention for a future Star Wars instalment. While the names of the women have not been released, it is reported that agent Adriana Alberghetti is largely responsible for those candidates, and she is known to represent talent such as veteran television director S.J. Clarkson (Jessica Jones), and the like.
There are several implications to this turn of events. Firstly, the future is very exciting for the Star Wars franchise, and the positive effect that a female directed or written Star Wars movie would have on the fight for equality in Hollywood should not be underestimated. However, it is also the case that, clearly, producers and studios are not actively encouraging the participation of women filmmakers.
It is almost as if, in over thirty years of Star Wars history, nobody at LucasFilm ever thought, “I wonder why we’re not getting any calls from women directors?” and then put a few calls out. I mean, why would you, when you have a white male knocking at the door with two moderately successful genre films under his belt? Because, make no mistake, what Kathleen Kennedy is actually saying in those remarks is that, not only has no woman ever been hired to direct a Star Wars film, the studio has never even considered one before, either.
I’m sure that, as ever, we are supposed to be grateful that women are finally being allowed into the Star Wars party – creatively speaking – just as women in Saudi Arabia are probably expected to be grateful for being allowed to run for office. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves – none of those women directors (or writers) have actually been hired yet, and even if any of them were to land the job, their movie would not see the light of day until at least 2020 – because those white male writers and directors have it all tied up for at least another five years.