Diverse directors and female directors are set to make up 63% of FX’s productions in 2021 – the first time that white male directors will not be in the majority.
This stat, which will see white male directors make up 37% of its shows next year, was revealed by John Landgraf during a keynote session at the Edinburgh International TV Festival as he lifted the lid on the cable network’s diversity strategy.
This is a marked improvement on five years ago, when white men made up 85% of its directors.
Landgraf, who is Chairman of FX Networks and FX Productions, admitted that he was “ashamed” by this number in 2015, revealed in an article by Maureen Ryan, and that his initial reaction was “defensiveness”. But he said those figures were an “indictment” of the entire industry and that the “whole thing was rotten”.
Landgraf said that he and his team put in place a number of plans to improve this, including offering to pay for reshoots and a number of other financial backstops if needed, but it wasn’t, and as a result FX “increased the quality of our episodes.”
“The quality of work we got from this new crop of directors was actually superior,” he said.
This was driven by diversity and a gender balance across its slate including Atlanta, Better Things, Mrs America, Pose and Snowfall.
He said that previously it had been looking for directors who had worked on other premium dramas and comedies but that by looking in other areas, including at theater directors and those making procedurals, it was able to find a fantastic calibre of directors. “It turns out they were hiding in plain sight,” he added.
But Landgraf admitted that the company was only in the “middle of this journey”. He said that it still needs to improve the diversity of its entire crew, including directors of photography and casting, as well as across its swathe of showrunners and exec producers and his own executive team.
Landgraf revealed that he was on the verge of hiring an SVP of diversity and culture, an “ombudsman”. “We have real work to do [on the executive level]. We need deciders. I want the culture of FX to be a vanguard organization. I want it to represent a microcosm of the country.”
He also revealed that white men now only make up 32% of its series regulars.
“We genuinely want our productions to look like the population of the United States,” he said. “We haven’t solved the problem but we’ve begun the process to solve the problem. It’s time for this industry to change.”