I Am a Female Director; I Am a Workhorse


Confession: I hate articles about the lack of female directors and sexism in Hollywood. Not because I'm not a feminist, not because I didn't read Blink like it was a light in the dark, and not because I haven't experienced sexism in Hollywood. But because I know the truth about me -- If I don't make it, it will be my income level that's the root cause, not what's in my pants.

It will be because when I had a film short hitting the festivals, I also had a new full-time job, no money to travel, and no accrued vacation time. It will be because I didn't shoot enough or write enough. It will be because of opportunities I turned down because I had to work. And it will be because since my last major layoff I'm so low down Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs that to be in a situation where my gender was the problem would feel like fucking Christmas.

Confession: I read every article about the lack of female directors and sexism in Hollywood. Because it's my dreams they're writing about. My belief that no matter what happens, there will be directing days in my future -- even if they are one at a time and forever unpaid -- is the reason I get up every morning. And they're writing about my world, or the world I want to be in, and so I read.

Most recently: Eyes after the prize - Will the Bigelow Effect carry over for female directors?

A typically painful read, but here's what totally slayed me (emphasis mine):

Myths about female directors help perpetuate the disparity: Lauzen's 2008 study "Women @ The Box Office" went some way toward dispelling the belief that women can't bring in big dollars; she reported that similarly budgeted films with male and female directors resulted in similar box office grosses. But the continuing perception that women aren't the constant workhorses their male counterparts are has significant anecdotal evidence, including big-budget helmers like Nancy Meyers (who averages three years between projects) and Bigelow (whose last feature prior to "Locker" was in 2002).

First of all, it's rather disingenuous because plenty of feature directors don't get to work regularly even if they want to. But what infuriates me is this stated perception that women can't be constant workhorses??? Rich women, maybe. And even then, only if they don't want to be.

But I am a workhorse. It's one of the reasons I'm drawn to television directing, because if you're good and you're lucky, maybe you can direct eight episodes in a year. I love features, and I'm realizing I simply have to direct one as my only way in, but I don't want to direct every few years.

I want to work as much as I can. Heck, I have been working as much as I can since I was 16 years old. That's 23 years of being one hell of a workhorse. I worked 70 hours a week for at least two teenaged summers that I can remember. I've worked my ass off to get where I am today, even if that's next to nowhere.

And eight episodes of television in a year would mean having ONE job, which frankly sounds like paradise. In my dreams, I live and breathe my current directing gig. In my dreams, I get to work my ass off at being a director. That's what I want. That's what I was built for.

Hard, challenging work invigorates me. It infuses me with a sense of purpose and joy. Nothing is more rewarding.

In the end, these articles suck because in 2010 how can you say anything about "women" and "men" like we're all not living in a sea of individuals? And yet, whenever a female character reminds me of me, the next thing I know I'm reading about how that character is a woman in a "male" role. I feel like these articles are important, and they are writing about things that are important, but I just want to go to work and do a good job at what I love. I read articles about "women directors" and so much of it just makes no sense to me at all. But for whatever it's worth...

I am a female director, I am a workhorse, and you are welcome to check my teeth.

Crazy teeth and all

Liz Rizzo

I blog at Everyday Goddess.

Photo Credit: Janet Erwin.

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