“Jurassic World” director sparks debate over lack of female directors: "Many of the top female directors in our industry are not interested”

Colin Trevorrow's remarks about gender bias in Hollywood got him in hot water this weekend

Published August 24, 2015 3:24PM (EDT)

        (Universal Pictures)
(Universal Pictures)

“Jurassic World” director Colin Trevorrow — who was recently hired to helm “Star Wars: Episode IX” — has sparked a debate over gender bias in Hollywood when it comes to the skewed distribution of plum blockbuster directing gigs.

On Wednesday, an L.A. Times article observed that studios have showed a willingness to gamble on inexperienced male directors —like Trevorrow's “Jurassic World” and Josh Trank's ill-fated “Fantastic Four” reboot — while female directors with similar levels of experience haven't being given the same opportunities.

“Obviously it’s very lopsided, and hopefully it’s going to change as time goes on. But it hurts my feelings when I’m used as an example of white, male privilege,” Trevorrow is quoted as saying in the article. “I know many of the female filmmakers who are being referred to in these articles. These women are being offered these kinds of movies, but they’re choosing not to make them. I think it makes [female directors] seem like victims to suggest that they’re not getting the opportunities and not artists who know very clearly what kind of stories they want to tell and what films they want to make. To me, that’s the reality.”

After the article came out, an individual on Twitter asked Trevorrow whether he would have been asked to direct “Jurassic World” if he had been a woman. The director responded with a lengthy screed, which we’ve embedded below:


The post immediately inspired backlash, with many female directors criticizing Trevorrow and pointing out that they would love to direct a Blockbuster if given the chance. “I cannot begin to tell you how naive & wrong it is. I have all the desire in the world. I would kill to make a blockbuster,” wrote "Hysteria" helmer Tanya Wexler, while Rachel Feldman, the former chair of the DGA Women's Steering Committee, added "“…I can tell you 1300 other women do too! Not lack of desire. Lack of opportunity!”

Trevorrow then expanded on his remarks in the following email to Slash Film:

"The last thing I’d want to communicate is that I don’t acknowledge this problem exists. I think the problem is glaring and obvious. And while it does make me a little uncomfortable to be held up as an example of everything that’s wrong, this is an important dialogue to have, so let’s have it.

Would I have been chosen to direct Jurassic World if I was a female filmmaker who had made one small film? I have no idea. I’d like to think that choice was based on the kind of story I told and the way I chose to tell it. But of course it’s not that simple. There are centuries-old biases at work at every level, within all of us. And yes, it makes me feel shitty to be perceived as part of this problem, because it’s an issue that matters so much to me. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t talk about it in the first place.

I do stand by the idea that a great many people in the film industry want this to change. I have made attempts at every turn to help turn the tide, and I will continue to do it. When I got the script for “Lucky Them,” released last year, I advocated hard for my friend Megan Griffiths to direct. She did, and she made a wonderful film (see it please). On my next project, “Book of Henry,” nearly all of my department heads and producers are women. Will I give a female filmmaker the same chance Steven Spielberg gave me someday? Let’s hope that when I do, it won’t even be noteworthy. It will be the status quo.

I came home from New York tonight and saw my daughter again after a week away. This had come up earlier in the day, so it was on my mind. I did think a lot about how vital it is for me to empower her now, even at age 3. To encourage her to go out and grab whatever it is she wants in life, to lead. It starts with the constant, steady assurance that the top job is attainable.

Becoming a filmmaker is not easy. It’s years of rejection and disappointment and it’s very hard, often grueling work. The job takes insane levels of endurance and sometimes delusional amounts of self-confidence. All I can do is raise one girl with that kind of fearlessness, then let her choose her path. That’s my contribution. The rest is up to her."

Trevorrow’s remarks join an industry-wide conversation that has seen increasingly vocal backlash against Hollywood's entrenched gender biases this year, whether that be the dearth of female directors or the well-documented gender wage gap in the industry. Yet, at this point, the numbers remain dismal; According to the 2014 report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, only 7% of directors on the 250 top grossing films of 2014 were female.

By Anna Silman

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Colin Trevorrow Gender Bias Jurassic World