Are Women Making Progress in the Film Industry? It's Complicated.

According to the Center for Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, women accounted for nine percent of directors in 2015, up two percentage points over 2014.

We'd like to think that this kind of "progress" still doesn't sit well with most people, and rightfully so—despite these marginal gains, the 2015 figure now matches that of 1998, meaning that sometime in the early 2000s, that percentage actually went down.

And so it's a bad news, good news situation. Only now has female representation crept back up to its Clinton Administration levels. Nonetheless, the numbers are trending positively, thanks in no small part to the cumulative work of various grant makers committed to boosting the ranks of female filmmakers, including the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, and the Sundance Institute

Then there's New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT).

According to its mission statement, NYWIFT energizes the careers of women in entertainment by "illuminating their achievements, providing training and professional development activities, and advocating for equality." Membership includes more than 2,100 women and men working in all areas of the industry. NYWIFT is part of a network of 40 women in film organizations worldwide, representing more than 10,000 members.

What's more, the organization is now accepting applications online for its four 2016 Funds for Women Filmmakers.

We encourage you visit NYWIFT's site here for a full explanation of each grant, but if you're short on time, here's a cheat sheet. The four available grants are:

  • The Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grant, awarded to a woman filmmaker for a film on physical or developmental disability issues.
  • In-Kind Post-Production Grants to documentary and narrative films directed and produced by New York area–based women filmmakers.
  • The Nancy Malone Marketing & Promotion Grant provides resources to help an emerging woman director get her film recognized and ready for distribution.
  • The Ravenal Foundation Feature Film Grant supports a woman second-time feature film director who is over 40 years of age in the production of a dramatic feature film.

Applications for the Loreen Arbus, In-Kind Post-Production, and Nancy Malone Grants are due June 15, 2016. Nominations for the Ravenal Foundation Grant are due July 15, 2016.

In related news, grantmakers are also boosting gender equity across other film and production roles. The Digital Bolex Grant for Women Cinematographers provides recipients with $10,000 to spend on camera gear and accessories from Digital Bolex, Hive Lighting, Hot Rod Cameras, and similar companies.

The figures here are equally grim. As we noted last year, women accounted for only four percent of cinematographers in 2013. According to the aforementioned San Diego State University study, that number crept up to six percent in 2015.