17%. What the F*ck?

Or, Where All the Women At?

by Tanya Klein

Once again, I feel a rant coming on. As you probably know, it’s currently Get Repped Now! time. For a certain period of weeks, anybody who sends in their screenplay or pilot for coverage and scores a “consider” for script will have their work read by our manager panel.  The other day,  my partner in Coverage Ink Jim Cirile and I were bemoaning the fact that we didn’t have many women in our consider circle (one out of seven so far) and decided to research how many female writers submitted their screenplays. We were stunned at the result: 17%.

That’s right, the percentage of female writers submitting to GRN is 17%. Let that sink in.

This brings up a whole jumble of thoughts and opinions. In no particular order:

1) What the f***k!?!?

2) We’ve gotten a couple of emails from writers asking why our manager panel was exclusively male. (Answer: Because female lit managers with any sort of clout are hard to come by, and the handful we know weren’t available — as a famous unindicted war criminal once said, “You go to war with the army you got.”) Could that be the reason women felt uncomfortable submitting? If that’s the case, then, ladies, here are some thoughts for you:

Is this business heavily skewed towards the white male? Err… yes! Is this business sexist? Absolutely! Are the people in power still mostly male? Yup! Will the PTB (powers-that-be) automatically make undesirable assumptions about your skills (or lack thereof) when your penis-less self walks through the door? Heck, yeah! Would they rather work with a guy? Sure! Do you have to be better than the dude sitting next to you? Of course!

Now that we’ve established the rules of the world (remember, writers, setup is one of the most important aspects of your screenplay) and are all on the same page, let me make the following absolutely clear: if you want to be a working writer, then you have to put yourself out there. If you want to wait until this business is more equitable, you’ll be waiting forever. (Sorry to burst your bubble, but despite the progress that’s been made and despite the current #metoo discussions happening everywhere, I firmly believe things aren’t going to be completely equitable within our lifetimes. Future generations may have a shot.) In short then, ladies, suit up and put on your big girl pants and aim straight for the glass ceiling. If there are enough of us, those cracks that have been appearing in the glass will turn into full-blown openings. We have to give it 110% and, unblinking, stare down the sexism right in the eye.

3) What the f***k!?!?

4) Maybe it’s just that there simply aren’t as many female writers as male writers. But how and why would that be the case? In fact, it seems that film school graduation rates are pretty much 50/50 – and the women, frustrated with the lack of opportunities, tend to drop out shortly thereafter. Are they dropping out at this high of a rate, though? A rate that leaves only 17% standing?

5) What the f***k!?!?

6) Is it that female writers don’t send their scripts out for coverage? (We don’t have statistics on this, but we definitely have a lot more male clients than female.) If that’s the case, then where do female writers go to improve their craft and get feedback? Or is it us? Are we somehow projecting a “males only” vibe? (Putting up a panel of eight male managers might well convey that appearance.)

7) Lastly and most importantly: what the f***k!?!?

So, the bewilderment is quite real. Please chime in. We’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions, and feedback. And if you have any ideas on how we can up the percentage of females entering this particular ring, let us know! [email protected]

Tanya Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer/producer/director and a partner in Coverage Ink.  

1 thought on “17%. What the F*ck?

  1. Gail Reply

    Indeed the winning projects I’ve read about in the past on your site seemed awfully ‘boyish’. As do the tastes of a lot of the managers you’ve worked with for many years. I’ve listened to webinars from several of them over time. But it’s not just because they’re men. There are male managers with broader tastes (thankfully). I hope that helps. No harm intended.

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