Female and minority TV directors reaches milestone

Employment for women and minority directors of episodic TV shows is much better than in feature films.

Directors chairAccording to Deadline, female and minority TV directors have reached a milestone – this year, for the first time ever, they directed half of all episodic TV shows. According to the Directors Guild’s latest diversity report, that’s up from last year’s record high of 42.5%, and up from just 21% five years ago.

“Inclusion has been a priority of our guild for a very long time as we’ve pushed the studios, networks and producers to do better in their hiring,” said DGA president Thomas Schlamme. “While change had been glacial in past years, we’re pleased and incredibly encouraged to see the recent commitment undertaken by the industry.”

The percentage of episodes directed by women also grew to a record 31% – more than doubling in the past five years, and the percentage of episodes helmed by directors of color rose to a new high of 27%, increasing by more than 40% in the past five years. In the 2013-14 season, only 14% of episodes were directed by women and just 19% were helmed by directors of color

Employment for women and minority directors of episodic TV shows is much better than in feature films. While not included in this report, last year, the guild’s Feature Film Diversity report found that women directed only 12.2% of all live-action American feature films in 2017 that grossed more than $250,000, although that was double the number from five years earlier. That report also found that only 9.7% of films with box office takes of at least $250,000 were directed by minorities — a five-year low and a precipitous drop of 46% since 2013.

The DGA’s new TV report examined over 4,300 episodes produced in the 2018-19 television season. Indicating that “Peak TV” may have peaked, that number was down from just over 4,400 episodes the season before, representing the second consecutive year of declines following an all-time high of roughly 4,500 episodes in the 2016-17 season. According to the DGA’s analysis, the main reasons for this decrease include the ongoing decline in the number of basic cable dramatic series, and the overall trend of short orders – fewer series episodes per season.

Comparing figures for the 2018-19 TV season with 2017-18, this year’s report shows that:
• The percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian males decreased from 57% to 50%;
• The percentage of episodes directed by minority males increased from 17% to 19%;
• The percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian females increased from 19% to 22%;
• The percentage of episodes directed by minority females increased from 6% to 8%

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