Female representation in cinematography is making moves in big ways. New data released by Statista, in 2019, found that there was an increase of female directors in the film industry by more than double that of the previous year. Despite the huge gender gap in the industry today, some female directors have managed to pave the way for themselves and their work. Below are just some of the women who have stood out to us due to their directorial techniques. 1. Ava DuVernay Ava DuVernay is best known for her captivating storylines and authenticity. DuVernay is a writer, producer, director, and film distributor. Her works include the historical drama Selma (2014), for which she received a Best Director Golden Globe and a Best Picture Academy Award nomination, the documentary 13TH (2016) that looks at the disproportionate jail system in America, Disney’s: A Wrinkle In Time (2018), for which she became the highest grossing black female director in American box office history, and the Central Park Five documentary When They See Us (2019). According to Screen Prism, you know you're watching a DuVernay film when these 12 techniques are present. Passes the DuVernay Test For a film to pass the DuVernay test, it must have two people of color, who talk to each other about something other than a white person. Critiques compare the DuVernay Test to the Bechdel Test; a test that features two females' who speak on matters other than a male. Young, Black, Female Protagonist
Often the crux of the narratives she explores, she provided thoughtful insight into this group usually underrepresented in Hollywood
Death of a Parent Figure
The death of a parental figure is a tramautizing and narratively compelling way to insite a characters development and kick off a dramatic story.
“Marginally” Framed Characters The characters are typically placed on the edge of the scene or are made to look small in comparison to their surroundings to send a message of emotional imbalance.
Distance Between Characters Characters are physically far from one another during conflicts and important decisions. Often times, the scene cuts from person to person to create a strong divide. Focus on Faces This cultivates confrontation with the characters humanity. DuVernay calls this the Terrain of the Face. It looks at how the face can reflect the lives and lingering emotions of individuals.
Not Afraid of Lowlight Rejects the idea that black actors must always be brightly lit. DuVernay used this technique in the film, Middle of Nowhere (2012). She says that she imagined herself walking into her house at night. Focus on Prison System
Celebrates Activists and Artists Particularly revant now, she fames these individuals with a large headspace above them so that they appear regal and important as though they are sitting on a throne. Puts the Marginalized Center-Screen Gives characters who have not been given much screen time a chance to celebrate and tell their story.
2. Greta Gerwig Greta Gerwig is best known for writing and directing the movie Lady Bird (2017). The film earned Gerwig an Oscar nomination as a first-time solo writer and director. She then went onto direct the newest adaptation of Little Women in 2019 for which she received great reviews. Gerwig initially began her career as an independent film actress in movies like Frances Ha (2013) before going on to make her directorial debut.
Writing Style and Process When referencing her writing style and process Gerwig said this to The Off Camera Show: “I’m so interested in taking things […] from other movies and putting them on something that doesn't belong.”
Gerwig says she relates structure to the way we create meaning. “Your birthright is story structure. You have it, you don’t need to teach yourself how to do it.”
She followed this rule in her Little Women (2019) adaptation. The film uses two timelines to tell the story. Gerwig explains to Behind the Curtain that despite what others might think, the film does not go back in time. Her Little Women adaptation follows two different origin points that continuously move forward even though they display two different stories.
Gerwig uses this technique to show that everything is happening all at once. She fills her scripts with dashes to let the actors and actresses know that when one line ends another one should immediately come in. It’s as though everyone is talking on top of one another. Emma Watson related this strategy to a symphony, calling the results “a symphony of sounds.”
Kathryn Bigelow With over 25 awards, Kathryn Bigelow has covered a wide array of genres over the years. Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy award for Best Director in 2010 and an Oscar for the movie The Hurt Locker (2009).
A Film is much more than the story, In a Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Interview Bigelow said that much of her films consist of researching. There are moments when the research may take longer to learn than the film itself.
“The research [for Zero Dark Thirty] took us more time than filming the whole movie. The facts and figures kept going back and forth. We had people who were hesitant to talk about what they did, although they were all proud of it.”
Like DuVernay, Bigelow’s emphasis on the use of history is huge. Her film Zero Dark Thirty (2012) was perceived as controversial and was followed with protests due to its sensitive nature.
Zero Dark Thirty follows the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the hunt for bin Laden. As far as the protests, Bigelow claims that her spirits were not hampered. "I really understand the anti-Osama feeling in them and that's what led to protest, which is very natural. I would love to visit India again and learn more about the country. The tradition, the culture and the artifacts speak volumes about the rich history of the country,” said Bigelow. Who else should you look out for? 4.Elizabeth Banks 5.Gia Coppola 6.Jane Campion 7.Dee Rees 8.Gina Prince-Bythewood 9.Jennifer Yuh Nelson
10.Karyn Kusama 11.Kay Cannon
12 Lena Dunham
20.Nancy Meyers Female directors in the future It is incredibly uplifting to see that female directors are using their talents to create films that showcase their own (and many others') artistic sensibilities and highlight earnest and challenging stories. We look forward to watching more female-directed movies on the big screen (and so should you!)