It should be plainly obvious that Half The Picture is a necessary and timely documentary.
Last year, it was revealed by The Wrap that of the 149 films that were due to be released by the six major Hollywood studios between 2017and 2019 only 12 would be directed by women. This meant that 92% were to be overseen by men.
As a burgeoning director herself, who had come face-to-face with this rampant inequality, Amy Adrion had a vested interest in making a documentary that examined this issue.
Especially because, as Adrion told me, “Statistically in feature films there has been no change and no improvement whatsoever.”
“Even after an investigation into discrimination against female directors was begun, and with the looming government investigation the number of films made by women have not changed at all.”
“That shows how entrenched the system is and how entrenched this way of working is. It is really hard to get people to do things differently and open their minds to other people.”
But it wasn’t just those rooted in and established at Hollywood studios that were blind to this discrimination. Because when Adrion first started work on “Half The Picture” some of her male peers actually questioned whether sexism and discrimination were still an issue in 2015.
“When I started to make the film in 2015, and I started to say what this film was, I would very often have people say, ‘Is that really the case, though? In 2015? Really? I know sexism and discrimination may have existed in the 80s or 50s, but this is 2015? Is this really an issue?’ People were not aware that it was still an issue.”
That viewpoint has changed dramatically over the last few months, though.
“I would say a couple of years later that has really changed. Especially with Me Too and pay inequality across Hollywood.”
“I think the general public is much more savvy and aware that there are significant forces of discrimination at work across Hollywood. You don’t have to convince people that sexism still exists. When we started the film we had to convince people that it did.”
More importantly, the falsehoods that Hollywood studios used to hide behind when overlooking female directors are now starting to be exposed as such, too.
“I think for a long time the argument was, ‘Well, women just don’t have the experience and there are more male directors with experience.’ That has proven to be false.”
“Because so many male directors went to Sundance with a small film that had a modest budget and was released and did pretty mediocre at the box office, and they still walked away with ‘Fantastic Four’ or ‘Jurassic World’ or ‘Spider-Man 5’ or whatever the case may be.”
“It wasn’t that case at all. It was just that women weren’t being given those opportunities. And for the most cases they still aren’t.”
“Whether you look at a woman with one great film that came out of a festival. Or women directors that have made blockbuster films. They’re still not being given the opportunities for bigger budgeted movies.”
Adrion is hopeful that “Half The Picture” will highlight just how widespread the issue still is, although she insists that the documentary isn’t just a lecture on this important topic.
“I would say that the film is, even though we talk about the challenges women face, it is still very entertaining and non-judgmental. Because we all have certain ways that we have been brought up and think about things. We all have our own unconscious bias.”
“We can all open up our hearts and minds a little bit more to people that are not like us, so that we can see talent that’s there. Many of us have bought into this narrative of, ‘Well, it is a meritocracy. And the people that are the best are the ones that keep working’.”
“That’s our general assumption about how this business and most businesses work. But once you peel back the layers a little bit, you see that these businesses tend to be looking for certain types of people and not looking for others.”
“Which leads to a lot of talent being underused, because they’re not the types of talent that agents and producers and studios tend to be looking for.”
“Half The Picture” will be released in New York on June 8, while it will be available on VOD on July 24.