Over the past couple of weeks, MTV News has been reporting on the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) decision to send letters to state and federal agencies, asking them to investigate the lack of female directors in Hollywood as discrimination. We've seen actresses and big-name directors laud the decision, we've spoken to young teen girls who are hesitant to get into the field, and we've even spoken to ACLU reps themselves, to find out why Hollywood is "worse about excluding women" than the military.
Now of course, these steps taken by the ACLU are beyond commendable, and should hopefully do wonderful things for female directors in the industry in the near future. But what of the talented, employable female directors who want work now? Do they wait around for new legislation to pass, or for studios to finally realize that audiences want want to see films (and TV shows) told through lenses that aren't white and male?
No, they don't -- because thanks to director Destri Martino, there's now a database called The Director List that allows prospective employers to search an expansive list of female directors by genre, location, medium of choice and more.
"Female directors have been over the moon about it," Martino told MTV News over the phone. "They love the idea, and they’re happy that it now exists. I’ve been receiving a lot of submissions -- submissions from managers and agents."
Martino was initially inspired to create the site when she brought her short film to the Cannes Film Festival, and then wondered what happened to all of the female directors at such festivals who don't make it in the big leagues. She then started marking their names and projects down on her Pintrest page. It's not just the ACLU's decision that prompted the need for The Director List, because believe it or not, the desire to find female talent is not just a shiny new trend you're reading about on Twitter.
"As I was filling the Pinterest board, which has been going for three years now, it had the message on it that it was for execs to give people more gender diverse options," Martino continued. "So I would get contacted by producers, and they thanked me, because it was a resource that just wasn’t available. If they wanted to have more diverse options, it was hard for them to find women -- which is kind of crazy, but it was."
This inspired Martino, who settled on the name Director List when she was working on her dissertation at the London School of Economics, and realized that "one of the first steps that production companies or execs will do [when making a movie] is put together a director list. The director list is usually where women are left off, from the beginning."
To earn a spot on Martino's List -- and as of press time, over 800 had -- a female director just needs to fill out a short form, and have "made a feature, documentary or narrative... directed an episode of television, or have extensive commercial and music video directing experience."
After that, producers can search for female talent who are well-versed in everything from sci-fi, to erotica, to crime and back again. A quick search for US-based narrative film directors who are versed in horror gave me 19 viable options -- including Karyn Kusama, the director of "Girlfight" and "Aeon Flux," as well as Mary Lambert of "Pet Sematary" fame. So obviously, the talent is out there -- and Martino is here to make sure that the talent starts landing more jobs.
"I would love to see it change the statistics, and that’s really the most important thing that this could do," she concluded. "That it makes it easier for execs and producers to find women and there’s no longer the excuse that there aren’t many women who are directing or are interested in directing. That just makes it easier for women to get hired, but [also] makes it harder for people to make excuses."