As an aspiring filmmaker, there’s no better way to learn how to master the craft than by studying some of your own favourite filmmakers. For women trying to break into the industry, it can be a bit discouraging at times that the world of movies has long been dominated by men. But, it’s time for the ladies to stand up. In the last two years, we’ve seen a huge surge in talented and creative women entering the film industry and making waves.
We’ve created a roundup of some of the biggest female filmmakers in the industry today. From their work, we can learn how movie production is changing and what beginner filmmakers can do to make their work stand out. Check out the work of these women, purchase affordable video gear and get out there to start creating your own unique piece of film.
Inclusion on the Rise
In the last four years, women in many industries have taken the opportunity to stand up and say, “We’re tired of playing second string to our male colleagues.” From movies to politics, more women than ever are stepping outside conventional, gendered jobs and creating a whole new realm of outstanding work as a result. According to the website Women and Hollywood, 40 of the top 100 films of 2018 were directed or co-directed by women, making the list just shy of a 50/50 split and opening more doors for female directors in the future.
Top Female Filmmakers
5. Olivia Wilde
After creating a successful acting career for herself, Olivia Wilde has decided to expand her talents beyond her acting by getting behind the camera. In her directorial debut, Wilde tackled the subject of navigating life as a teenager right before high school graduation. Booksmart is a dramatic comedy that received rave reviews from critics and audience members alike and reminds the audience of the comedic antics of similar movies like Superbad but from a new perspective.
Having female directors like Wilde step up to the plate gives audiences a wider range of viewing experiences. Her goal with Booksmart was to create a movie about young girls that didn’t fit into any of the usual troupes—wild girls making mistakes or good girls never breaking the rules. Her story follows two main characters who have been best friends for years but realize right before graduation that they spent so much time on their school work, and they never let themselves experience the party life. Needless to say, they embark on a hilarious adventure where they break out of their comfort zones and learn what it means to grow up and be confident in your own skin.
4. Anna Boden
It’s not surprising that a top female-lead Marvel movie, Captain Marvel, was also co-led by a female director. But together Anna Boden and her co-director and long-time work partner Ryan Fleck were able to tackle a unique superhero origin story that also explored something Boden was experiencing in her own job—being a female in a male-dominated world. The outstanding direction and script along with Brie Larsson’s performance made this movie an instant hit, breaking dozens of box office records including second overall highest-grossing comic book adaptation ever. Bringing in a whopping $455 million worldwide, Captain Marvel also had the most successful opening weekend for a movie with a female lead in history. Needless to say, the women behind this production used diversity and a new angle to captivate audiences across the globe.
3. Victoria Mahoney
Though not technically the main director on this most recent project, Victoria Mahoney made headlines when the Star Wars franchise announced that she would be working as director J.J. Abram’s second unit director in the series’ latest installment, Star Wars: Episode IX. Maloney is the first-ever African American women to have any type of directing role with the franchise, addressing Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy’s request for a greater female presence in the franchise and fan’s concerns over a lack of diversity. The film is expected to be released just before Christmas 2019, and together Abrams and Mahoney are expected to create the final piece in a series that began more than 40 years ago with Star Wars: A New Hope.
2. Josie Rourke
After creating a career for herself by directing plays at London’s Donmar Warehouse theater, Josie Rourke was ready to take on a larger challenge—film. And boy, did she succeed. For Mary Queen of the Scots, her first full-length feature film, Rourke nailed down two huge names in the acting world as the leads—Saorise Ronan and Margot Robbie. Rourke’s experience as a theater director shines through in her cinematic style, but it works perfectly to enhance the plot and enrich the audience’s understanding of these characters and their complicated family relationship. Though some historians questioned the historical accuracy of the movie, the story itself was compelling and well-acted even being nominated for the British Academy Film Awards.
1. Cathy Yen
When Margot Robbie stepped up to play the charmingly demented Harley Quinn in the 2016 Suicide Squad, fans went nuts. That Halloween, every other girl sported the high pigtails, smudged eye makeup and a “Daddy’s Little Monster” shirt as a costume. With fans practically begging to see more of this damaged but intriguing character, Margot Robbie approached up-and-coming director Cathy Yen about pitching a movie based entirely around Harley Quinn to Warner Bros. The DC franchise immediately picked up the idea and found Yen to be the best fit for director, giving the movie the girl power it needs to fuel a unique story and a growing fan base.
With more women than ever stepping into the spotlight (or into the camera shadows), the movie industry is rapidly changing with new styles and stories being explored through diversity. Young filmmakers can take inspiration from many of these female directors who are willing to push the boundaries and never take “no” for an answer. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, start your career off with affordable filming equipment and study up on some of these unique storylines to harness your own creativity and filmmaking skills.
Author Bio: Ethan Long is the business development director for MovoPhoto. Before starting with them, he worked in advertising in NYC where he gained over eight years of experience in content and video marketing. In his free time, he enjoys being outside, learning new photo and videography techniques, and spending time with his wife and their dog, Rory.