Film & Television

Examining a High-Stakes World of Inequity in ‘Equity’

In the seven years I’ve written for Women’s Voices for Change, I’ve bemoaned Hollywood’s gender inequity more times than I can count. According to a recent report from San Diego University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, in 2015 women made up 9% of directors among the top 250 domestic grossing films and 12% of directors among the top 500. These numbers demonstrate only the slightest increase over the year before and are pretty much in line with the figures from 1998.

Essentially, female Hollywood directors are going nowhere fast.

The news isn’t better for other women in the industry. Last year, only 26% of producers were women, only 22% of editors, 20% of executive producers, 11% of writers, and, at the bottom of this dispiriting list, just 6% of cinematographers. Meanwhile, half of the students in the film programs at USC, UCLA and NYU are women. So the talent and the training are definitely there. It’s the opportunity that’s missing.

That’s why Equity is as newsworthy as it is entertaining. The film is directed by Meera Menon, and written by Amy Fox from a story by Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner and Amy Fox. After premiering as an Official Selection at this year’s Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals, the movie is being released by Sony Pictures Classics this week.

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Producers Reiner and Thomas (both of whom also play central roles onscreen in the film as well) approached real-life financial executive women (and a handful of progressive men) for funding, as well as story input. The movie’s list of co-producers and investors reads like a “Who’s Who of Wall Street Women.” Many described their own experiences as ambitious women trying to succeed in the investment industry. Co-Producer Barbara Byrne explains, “There is a lot of common ground between Hollywood and Wall Street. The people are similar, and not just because they are all confident. They are driven, focused and risk takers. They risk failure — personal failure — every day. In my career I have been called many things — some of them quite comical. Many meant to be hurtful or humiliating.” Currently Vice Chairman of Barclays Investment Bank and the first and only woman to achieve a vice chair position at Lehman Brothers, Byrne certainly beat the odds. The gender statistics for financial services are as dismal as they are for Hollywood. There has never been a woman CEO at a top 22 U.S. Investment Banking firm. At the executive level, women account for only 16.6%, and at first- to mid-level, just 30.9%. Women aren’t exactly relegated to secretarial positions anymore, but that glass ceiling is still very much in tact.

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  • Susanne Scott July 26, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    We need more of these kinds of movies with the risks, successes and failures- the good, the bad, and the ugly from a woman’s perspective! If I had known I would have been a financial supporter, albeit on a small scale.
    Thank you,

  • b. elliott July 26, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Great review! Can’t wait to see Equity!!!