Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow saw a meteoric rise to the top of the Hollywood food chain when Steven Spielberg hand-picked him to helm the latest Jurassic Park sequel — with the only the festival hit Safety Not Guaranteed to his name. Trevorrow proved himself the right man for the job when Jurassic World destroyed the box office, earning his next high-profile gig on Star Wars: Episode IX, but the question has been raised, not for the first time — would he have ever had the opportunity as a female director?
Trevorrow experienced a small spat of twit-controversy last night when he answered that very question and addressed the state of female directors in blockbuster filmmaking. Mainly, why there are almost none. Check out what he said below.
Trevorrow’s tweet echoed his recent comments to the LA Times, in which he acknowledged the “lopsided” percentage of male directors on high-profile films, but stated that it was due, at least in part, to a lack of interest from his female peers. His tweet garnered some instant feedback from a few female creatives in the industry including Jamie King and Hysteria director Tanya Wexler (Who, it’s worth noting, is currently in the running to helm 50 Shades Darker, a story about a female’s emerging sexuality, with a male director pegged as front-runner for the gig.) Check out their replies below.
@colintrevorrow I cannot begin to tell you how naive & wrong it is. I have all the desire in the world. I would kill to make a blockbuster.
— Tanya Wexler (@TanyaWexler) August 22, 2015
While I don’t want to fill the whole page with twitter back-and-forths, it should be noted that Trevorrow replied thoughtfully to both women, concluding his conversation with Wexler, “allies were made here today”.
Finally, In response to Angie Han’s fantastic breakdown of Trevorrow’s comments, Trevorrow sent the following statement to /Film.
The last thing I’d want to communicate is that I don’t acknowledge this problem exists. I think the problem is glaring and obvious. And while it does make me a little uncomfortable to be held up as an example of everything that’s wrong, this is an important dialogue to have, so let’s have it.
Would I have been chosen to direct Jurassic World if I was a female filmmaker who had made one small film? I have no idea. I’d like to think that choice was based on the kind of story I told and the way I chose to tell it. But of course it’s not that simple. There are centuries-old biases at work at every level, within all of us. And yes, it makes me feel shitty to be perceived as part of this problem, because it’s an issue that matters so much to me. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t talk about it in the first place.
I do stand by the idea that a great many people in the film industry want this to change. I have made attempts at every turn to help turn the tide, and I will continue to do it. When I got the script for Lucky Them, released last year, I advocated hard for my friend Megan Griffiths to direct. She did, and she made a wonderful film (see it please). On my next project, Book of Henry, nearly all of my department heads and producers are women. Will I give a female filmmaker the same chance Steven Spielberg gave me someday? Let’s hope that when I do, it won’t even be noteworthy. It will be the status quo.
I came home from New York tonight and saw my daughter again after a week away. This had come up earlier in the day, so it was on my mind. I did think a lot about how vital it is for me to empower her now, even at age 3. To encourage her to go out and grab whatever it is she wants in life, to lead. It starts with the constant, steady assurance that the top job is attainable.
Becoming a filmmaker is not easy. It’s years of rejection and disappointment and it’s very hard, often grueling work. The job takes insane levels of endurance and sometimes delusional amounts of self-confidence. All I can do is raise one girl with that kind of fearlessness, then let her choose her path. That’s my contribution. The rest is up to her.
(Should I mention we need more female chefs? Different article.)
Trevorrow is certainly not the first filmmaker to experience this kind of rapid accession up the Hollywood ladder — in similar circumstances 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb landed The Amazing Spider-Man, Chronicle helmer Josh Trank was selected for Fantastic Four, and most recently, Cop Car director Jon Watts signed on for Sony and Marvel’s Spider-Man reboot.
But that trend doesn’t extend to female directors with similar festival-hit resumes. It’s no secret that Hollywood has a rampant diversity problem, and one of the most commonly cited examples is the dearth of female directors entrusted with high-profile projects. While Ava DuVernay‘s decision to pass on Black Panther is a likely rebuttal, that’s really apples and oranges. DuVernay wasn’t a fresh face off the festival circuit when she turned down Black Panther; she was riding the wave off her Oscar-nominated drama Selma (her third feature film, for what it’s worth).
Elizabeth Banks is another interesting case. Pitch Perfect 2 wasn’t great, but it was a huge hit, and with those kinds of box office numbers under her belt, it’s shocking that Banks doesn’t have a major project lined up yet. Of course, Banks is a popular actress with a busy slate, so it’s possible that she isn’t on the hunt for a new directorial gig yet, but the fact that her name hasn’t been popping up in lists of hopefuls and front-runners is perplexing.
It’s clear that Trevorrow isn’t nefariously spouting ignorant rhetoric. As he said in his statement, why would he talk about it so much if he didn’t care? But his initial statements are indicative of a flawed and dismissive mentality that pervades the industry. I’ll say this, if all Hollywood higher-ups were as thoughtfully responsive as Trevorrow has been, we’d be figuring out the solution to this problem a lot quicker.