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DGA Study Shows "Record Gains" for First-Time Female TV Directors

A new Directors Guild of America report found that 32% of all first-time episodic TV directors (73 of 225 people) were women in the 2016-17 season. This is a large jump from last season, when only 38 first-time TV directors (24% of all first-timers) were women. There was also a marked increase in the amount of minority female first-time directors hired this season, rising from 6 in 2015-16 to 18 this season.

The DGA reported that along with the increase in the proportion of women in the first-time director pool, the pool itself had expanded to match the explosion of episodic television series, thanks to online streaming. So, even though their proportion went down, the overall number of white men hired as first-time directors actually increased this year. But, DGA President Thomas Schlamme claims this progress is a sign that the industry is starting to listen to the DGA's frequent calls for inclusivity and diversity. “The fact is, it all starts with the pipeline,” Schlamme said. “The hiring decisions employers make today can have enormous impact on the composition of the pool in two years, five years, ten years’ time. Our research shows that when employers actually do the work of being inclusive, they find talented directors who overwhelmingly succeed in establishing longer-term careers.”

However, the DGA still has some complaints, mainly that the number of first-time directors who are not considered "career-track directors" but who actually work on the show in some other capacity has been steadily rising each year. 125 of the 225 first-timers in 2016-17 were already affiliated with the show they directed. Schlamme said, "too many of those valued first-time jobs are still being reserved for individuals who work on a series in some other capacity – and as our statistics show, are much less likely to continue a career in directing. If the goal is to feed the pipeline with the directors of the future, it’s important that employers provide the first-time opportunities to those most likely to go on and become career directors.” Read more here.


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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts
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