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August 13 at 8:20am

17 Reasons Why Chicks Actually Make Better Directors

By Ted Hope

By Jill Soloway (director of AFTERNOON DELIGHT)

1) We grew up playing dolls.

No one believes me, but honestly? Making a movie is closer to playing dolls than ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD. As children we sat on the floor, gave the dolls names, dressed them up in hot pants and pleather belts and gave voice to scenarios. And yes, we also smashed them together and made kissy sounds so they could make sweet, sweet, plastic love. I did that with Kathryn Hahn and Josh Radnor in my movie too!

2) We put on Thanksgiving

Women can make a space in their brain big enough to plan a seven-course dinner for thirty friends or a twenty-three day shoot for a crew of forty. Shopping list, shot list – they’re more or less the same thing. What do I need? Go get it – by taking your Subaru to the market or your camera to the actor’s face.

3) We can delegate.

I know what you were thinking with that shopping metaphor – that you know how to drive a Subaru but maybe not so much with operating the Alexa. Fear not that cameras are boy things — you never even have to touch it (unless you want to), your cinematographer does that. And of course, your DP can be a girl too!

4) We’re so into feelings.

Sure, some movies are about exploding fighter jets or planetary warfare – but the movies that really matter make us feel things. Men have to get past their fear of feelings; women are always trying to get people to go into the ladies room to talk it out, and then it ends in tears – just like an awesome movie!

5) We know how to attract.

Okay, I’m a feminist, so don’t get mad — but chicks spend their whole lives exploring the art of attraction. We were taught from an early age that men get spooked if you run at them at full speed – so we perfected the art of covering our faces in makeup and batting our lashes. Raising money for your indie is the same – if you act desperate or like you want it too much, investors run in the other direction.

6) We know how to apologize.

I hereby would like to apologize to any gender queer, third gender or trans people who find the gender binary herein repressive. I find it repressive too! I just wanted to think of a title that would be sticky and clicky, as they say. I’m sorry I’m so sorry I’m really really sorry.

7) We’re flexible.

It’s scientifically proven that women naturally have stronger and more flexible lower backs than men. There were intimate moments on the set of my film Afternoon Delight when Hahn and Radnor and my DP (Jim Frohna) and I were physically entangled on the bed supporting each other to get the right shot. It was sweaty and painful and everyone was afraid they were going to fart – just like yoga! So get downward facing, you boy dogs, you have some muy serioso catching up to do.

8) We’re willing to ask for directions.

As a director, a million people asked me a million times a day what I thought. I just turned the ol’ switcheroo on them and asked ‘what do you think’? They almost always had something better to add than whatever I was going to say. And if they didn’t, I used the time while they were talking to come up with my own thoughts.

9) We’re tough.

You guys think making a film is hard? Try making a human being. Filmmaking is nada compared to childbirth. And I had two c-sections, so I hung around on a table fully conscious while someone else reached into my guts and pulled aside my spleen so they could get a small person out. Twice. Also, men, try bleeding for five full days out of your vagina but going about your business with a straight face ONCE A MONTH for thirty years. That is bad-ass.

10) The vagina’s got a lot to say.

While we’re on the topic of said vaginas, please note that yes, the vagina has been oh-so-silenced for nigh on eons. Women experience the world differently than men. Did ya notice? So few women have gotten a chance to share their vision of this world onscreen, it’s inevitably going to be a new take. Isn’t that what everyone wants? New new new? We got it!

11) We have wombs.

Well, many of us, anyway. I was taught this really cool technique by Joan Scheckel (http://www.joanscheckel.com) that she might call ‘directing from the feminine’. It’s about imagineering the rehearsal space or the set as one big ol’ womb where the warm, moist safety allows everyone else to do their best work. This means letting go of a tightly held vision that you may (but probably will not) be able to will into existence. Women understand from their relationship to womb theory how to receive what is going on, how to listen to what their instincts tell them in the moment and allow what is happening to happen.

12) We have pretty good hygiene.

Eighteen hour days on set breathing down your neck? No problem. Ladies are often way more diligent about the whole deodorant wearing and teeth brushing than some boys we know. When I was directing Afternoon Delight, if we were shooting near our house, I went home to take a bath at lunch! (Okay, I also needed to get my bra off!)

13) We like community.

We make book clubs, writing groups, mommy groups, co-ops and even curated web video groups. Women love to create communities. Women are masters at creating make-shift families who are loyal to each other, support each other and all work towards a common goal. Whether the cast and crew become a community during a production or remain a group of individuals who happen to work long hours in the same place will show in your final product. And speaking of communities, your audience is yet another huge, unwieldy community that needs tender loving care.

14) We are:

Andrea Arnold, Catherine Breillat, Lena Dunham, Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow, Agnes Varda, Nicole Holofcener, Sofia Coppola, Miranda July, Lisa Cholodenko, Ava DuVernay, Lynn Shelton, Diablo Cody, Valerie Farris, Penny Marshall, Nora Ephron, Nancy Myers, Catherine Hardwicke and who else?

15) We’ve got maternal instincts.

A film crew is essentially a large family. A director must constantly cuddle and coddle and keep everyone on task… especially the actors. Who can be sort of like children. That doesn’t mean I don’t love actors. I would be one if I could lose around fifteen pounds. Oh, but for the gluten, which calls constantly…

16) We’re detailed-oriented.

That’s why your mom was able to scope out the one dirty corner of your room where you hid your cigarettes and the secret pleather belt and hot pants you changed into after she dropped you off at school.

17) We’re awesome.

So, yeah. There’s that too.

Jill Soloway is the director of AFTERNOON DELIGHT, which opens NY/LA Aug. 30th and rolls out Sept. 6th. You can watch the trailer here.

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  1. Jeremy Campbell / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Loving this article, great perspective and very catchy, thanks Jill and Ted! Off to share this on Twitter now :)

  2. TheDirectorList / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    “Who else?” you ask… Here are 675+ women directors: thedirectorlist.com. And we have many more to add! Great post, Jill!

  3. Cathy / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    I’m disappointed that you didn’t mention Mira Nair.

  4. Mrs. Sweary / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    This is a great article Jill! So inspiring and every bit of it is true!

  5. elizabethkarr / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Right on, Jill! Another reason – women’s senses of humor and finding the special in the ordinary.

  6. Jennifer Peterson / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Check out the Alliance of Women Directors (AWD) online to see a GREAT list of working female directors.

  7. Shak75 / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    I came in thinking it would be kind of jokey, but this list is so true.

  8. Kate Powers / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Michelle MacLaren! Rosemary Rodriguez! (TV these days is often both as gorgeous as any film and just as hard to make.)

  9. Andrew Watt / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Kelly Reichardt’s MEEK’S CUTOFF is one of my favorite movies of the last few years!

  10. coocoocoo / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    If someone wrote the male equivalent of this, it would be sexist. This is pandering, sexist bullshit, even if it was written by a woman and is notionally pro-woman. Would it be a valid argument for men if someone started naming good male directors? No. The world needs good directors, and there are so few of them, they need to be found in every single demographic. Women make up half the population, but are vastly represented among directing ranks. Women are underemployed as directors on any intuitive or statistical basis. You don’t need to lean back on some gender role nonsense.

  11. The Zengakuren / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Seems like Jill person has forgotten that its a visual medium.

    Nothing about having a string visual sense? Or facility with cinematic structure, composition and editing.

    I think this article trivializes the role of female director as entity of estrogen enhanced empathy that encourages an atmosphere conducive to creativity, without talking about the creative force and visionary power that women possess. It’s cinema not a suckling service.

    Show some pride for christcakes!

    And where is Chantal Ackerman? Leni Reifenstahl?

  12. cty01 / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Who she writes about is not a director but an executive producer or an assistant. Otherwise correct.

  13. Raj / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    This just plays into the structures feminism SHOULD be trying to tear down and throws them on men. I wrote a small article in response: http://rajjawa.blogspot.com/2013/08/men-vs-women-feminism.html

    It’s not intended to be odious and hateful; I’m supportive but angry at the lack of really exploring the issue and just turning it easily into men vs. women. You so easily paint men in one corner but there are different kinds of men just as their are different kinds of women. You’ve explored neither side.

  14. Mark Savage / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    The idea that women are “actually” better directors than men is just a gross generalization, and is a gender reversal of a narrow attitude that has kept women out of many traditionally male reserves.

    We’re all human beings. Some of us are clueless idiots. Some of us are hacks. Some of us are brilliant. Being a man or woman doesn’t make you better or worse at most things artful or otherwise. Nobody’s born equal. We do what we can with what we have.

    Women more diligent about hygiene? All men are sweaty beasts, too, I suppose? What’s the ultimate reason for making this statement?

    As for “making” human beings… that’s the easy part compared to raising and supporting them for a lifetime. Men do pretty good at that, too.

    This whole piece is more vicious than the stuff it implicitly condemns while thinking it’s being progressive.

    Just makes me further despise collectives of anybody (men or women) when attitudes like this prevail.

    Female directors missed here include Roberta Findlay, Leni Reifenstahl, Amy Jones, Ida Lupino, Clara Law, and Claire Denis.

  15. Mark Savage / Aug 13 at 8:20am


  16. Mark Savage / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    I’m waiting for the 17 REASONS WHY MEN ACTUALLY MAKE BETTER DIRECTORS firestorm.

  17. Dorian / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Thank you for this. I was hoping someone would bring up the “17 Reasons why black men actually are better at basketball.” This is so sexist it’s unbelievable. I’m all for a more even film industry (with more and plenty of talented women, I just don’t believe that because you have a vagina, you are somehow better. Or because you are black you are good at sports. This is the wrong way of bringing women together. All the while, why the author is not mentioning (directly) that men are savaged beasts (for example) it is entirely implied. I guess my point is that your genitalia does not determine that you are a good director, just as your skin color does not determine your ability to play sports.

  18. Mark Savage / Aug 13 at 8:20am


    No sex has a monopoly on brilliance or ineptitude.

  19. Jerry Alden Deal / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Right on.

  20. Jerry Alden Deal / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Ha,, I was actually thinking in this direction, and was starting to write it, but decided I didn’t want to lower and narrow my point of view just to respond to this. I’d like to think this was written tongue in cheek and give her the benefit of the doubt, but I wonder if there are actually some hidden male issues bubbling up from the writer? No, no psycho-babble here. Good points were made, just could have been made without the politically correct pandering.

  21. Jerry Alden Deal / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Yes, yes, we are all human beings, thinking beings, emotional beings, spiritual beings, etc., all before we are addressed by sex, color, ethnicity, class, etc. etc. Why divide us so much, we are so much more alike than we are different!

  22. Jeffrey William Lynch / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Love the headline of the blog. It’s brilliant! You stirred up all kinds of controversy.. Just like the mind of Kenneth Cole on Twitter..

  23. jb147 / Aug 13 at 8:20am

    Agreed! As a female, this kind of writing makes me ashamed. People are good directors based on personal traits such as leadership, commitment, creativity, good communication skills and hard work. If we want true equality in any industry, women should stop pulling the gender card and just focus on working hard to get the positions they deserve.

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