The DGA is calling on the industry to make a “revolutionary” move to increase employment for first-time women and minority TV directors: Hire more directors and fewer actors and writer/producers to direct the shows.
According to a new, six-year study of hiring practices, 46% of all the first-time episodic TV directors were actors or writer/producers. The report found that writer/producers made up 26% of the first-time episodic director pool, while actors made up 20%. Cinematographers/camera operators were 8%; editors totaled 5%; and other crew made up 6%.
Surprisingly, only 27% of first-time hires were individuals who had previously directed in other genres including independent film, new media, commercials, music videos, student films and documentaries. The remaining 8% were members of the directing team – assistant directors, unit production managers and second unit directors.
“As it stands now,” said DGA president Paris Barclay, “nearly half of the new hires are writer/producers or actors. It may sound revolutionary, but those with the power to hire may want to consider bringing in more directors – people who are committed to directing as a career – instead of approaching the assignment as a perk. There are many willing, able, and experienced women and diverse directors out there – we encourage the employers to reach out and hire them.”
The latest data suggests that despite all the recent talk about diversity in the television industry, nothing is changing for first-time women and minority TV directors. The DGA’s latest six-year survey is nearly identical to the guild’s five-year study released in January.
Of the 611 first-time directors hired in the six years between the 2009-10 season and the 2014-15 season, only 110 (18%) were females and only 83 (14%) were minorities. For women, that’s the same percentage hired during the five-year period between 2009-10 and 2013-14, and 1% higher for minorities.
“You can’t increase diversity in the long term without focusing on entry into the business,” Barclay said. “We challenge the networks, studios and executive producers who make all the hiring decisions in episodic television to set diversity hiring goals. It shouldn’t be that hard, because we’ve found that when women and minorities do actually get their first breaks, they’re even more likely to continue on in television directing than the rest of the pool.”
The report also found that women and minorities who are given a first shot at directing are more likely to continue directing TV shows than their male and Caucasian counterparts. The latest data shows that 51% of the females and 42% of the minority first-timers went on to direct other shows, compared to only 33% of the first-time male directors and 36% of the Caucasian first-timers.