In an interview with Variety, current head of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy said the studio is looking for a female filmmaker to direct a Star Wars movie. Great! She then implied that the process is a slow one because "they’re gigantic films, and you can’t come into them with essentially no experience." Okay.
This statement, my friends, is bullshit.
First of all, though the number of films directed, written, or shot by women each year is still pitifully low, that does not mean there are literally no successful film directors who are women. You might consider Academy Award-winner Katheryn Bigelow (Point Break, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) a successful blockbuster director who is a woman. You could also include Selma and A Wrinkle in Time director Ava Duvernay, Beyond the Lights and Love and Basketball director Gina Prince-Bythwood, The Diary of a Teenage Girl director Marielle Heller (who recently signed on to direct a J.J. Abrams-produced thriller), Wuthering Heights and American Honey director Andrea Arnold, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night director Ana Lily Amirpour, Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik, and dozens more.
That’s to say nothing of the women tackling massive directorial responsibilities on television. Michelle MacLaren, for example, has directed some of the best episodes of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, as well as an episode of Westworld that will air this weekend. It’s hard to argue she doesn’t have experience with scale, story, or genre. There’s also The Night Manager’s Susanne Bier, Top of the Lake’s Jane Campion, and Jessica Jones’ Melissa Rosenberg, among many others. It is not that hard to be made aware of these women, as they have made things that lots of people enjoy.
Second: Kennedy is, I would assume, well aware that one of her studio’s upcoming Star Wars films is slated to be directed by virtual neophyte Colin Trevorrow. Four years ago, Trevorrow’s first feature film Safety Not Guaranteed was an indie critical darling (for whatever reason) and caught the eye of Steven Spielberg. Spielberg then hand-picked him for the job of directing Jurassic World, a bloated blockbuster that received middling reviews. It still made a ton of money because human beings will always feel childlike wonder for huge dinosaurs, and thereby served as a launching pad for Trevorrow’s career. Not only did Trevorrow get plucked from relative obscurity in the same manner that Kennedy says Lucasfilm is unwilling to do with a female director, the artistic merit (or lack thereof) of his first blockbuster outing didn’t seem to affect his future prospects at all.
Men get second chances before women get first chances
Relatively inexperienced men get asked to direct big superhero or alien or dinosaur or monster movies all the time — just see Josh Trank (Fantastic Four), Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man), or Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island). And if they fail, like Trevorrow did in some pretty obvious ways, they’re likely to get another chance. Women don’t often get the first chance, and they certainly don’t expect to see the second.
Acting like looking for a woman who is capable of directing a Star Wars film is comparable to looking for a needle in a haystack is bullshit. If you want a woman to direct your movie, just hire a woman to a direct your movie.