The 2020 Oscars, like all before it, are distinctly male-dominated. While trailblazers like director Greta Gerwig are making strides to prove themselves within the industry, equality is slow-growing.
“I think that there is a social mindset of women still, in some capacities, being ‘less than’ men,” Savannah Welch, senior media production major at Pepperdine University, said.
Welch, like many bright-eyed and hopeful university-women, is studying media production because she wishes to go into the entertainment industry. Welch currently directs the Pepperdine-run morning news show, Good Morning Malibu.
“I just knew that I needed to be in a place where I’d be able to learn how to tell really good effective stories,” Welch said.
Two of Welch’s peers, Danielle Howard and Brooke Zeall, were also frustrated by the lack of female representation. Howard is studying Screen Arts in pursuit of eventually producing and casting her own films, while Zeall has her sights set on cinematography and directing.
“I just wish that more diversity was included,” Howard said. “Like more female directors, more people of color. Not that the guys who were nominated were bad but I think there were other films that could have been more highly recognized.”
Of the 75 gender-neutral nominations, 25 included women. Twelve of those women were nominated in conjunction with male co-writers, co-producers, and creators. Some categories, including Director, Animated Feature, Cinematography, and Original Score had no female nominees.
“Having the sheer number of women come into the film industry and then still not be recognized—and they really haven’t been recognized over the last 10 years in the Oscars,” Welch said. “I feel like there’s [more] to be said about the impact that women have.”
Howard and Zeall volunteered this year at the Sundance Film Festival through a program called Ignite, which offers aspiring filmmakers a chance to learn from the best. There were more women than men in Howard and Zeall’s group, Howard said.
“It’s obviously still male dominated. I think it’s moving in the right direction but it’s going to take more time,” she said.
Women did dominate a few Oscar categories including Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short Subject, and Production Design. These categories receive less publicity than Best Director or Best Cinematography, but still indicate incredible talent.
“And, you know, Greta Gerwig…she’s phenomenal,” Welch said. “[She’s] directed some amazing films that have really captivated audiences. Yet not everybody knows her name, while everybody knows Quentin Tarantino or, everybody knows Christopher Nolan.”
By Judith Brister