Women have always played an integral role in the film and video industry. French director Alice Guy directed her first film in 1896 and is credited with creating techniques like the close-up and synced sound. Margaret Booth started editing in 1915 and is widely considered one of the top-10 editors of all time. In front of and behind the camera, women have always left their mark on this powerful medium.
In honor of Women’s History Month here are three women who are dominating the industry and forging the path for future women.
Thelma Schoonmaker – Editor
Thelma Schoonmaker is a Hollywood legend, a three time Best Editing Academy Award winner and, after 50 years of working in the industry, is still making history.
I didn’t know it when I first enrolled in film school, but Schoonmaker had already been a major inspiration. I always thought of myself as a die-hard Scorsese fan, but I soon came to learn that I was also a die-hard Thelma Schoonmaker fan. She has been the editor behind every Scorcese film since Raging Bull. The story goes that while Schoonmaker was taking a filmmaking course in NYC a professor asked that she edit one of Scorcese’s projects to see if she could salvage the “badly mangled negative”. They have been working together ever since!
So, it was really Schoonmaker’s talent in the editing room and her ability to partner so well with a director that inspired me (and so many other film kids) so greatly as a young film nerd mesmerized by the blows in Raging Bull or the cuts that managed to make a joke out of violence in Goodfellas, .
Schoonmaker’s career is far from over. She recently edited Scorcese’s The Irishman, set for release through Netflix this year, and just received the prestigious BAFTA Fellowship for her “outstanding and exceptional contribution” to film.
“I’m not a person who believes in the great difference between women and men as editors. But I do think that quality is key. We’re very good at organizing and discipline and patience, and patience is 50 per cent of editing. You have to keep banging away at something until you get it to work. I think women are maybe better at that.” – Thelma Schoonmaker
Director – Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow first showed us what she was made of when she directed the cult classic Point Break (the amazing 1990 version, of course). Coming onto the scene as an action director with films like Blue Steel and Strange Days proves there is no room for gender stereotypes in filmmaking. Her career continued with a steady flow of work, but in 2008 Bigelow made history when she became the first woman to win a Best Director Academy Award for The Hurt Locker.
Bigelow’s work continues to leave an impression as she tackles issues of race, violence, government corruption and morality in films like Zero Dark Thirty and Detroit. Her ability to cover complicated, offensive and relevant subject matter proves storytelling knows no gender and, most importantly, that it shouldn’t.
“If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender and I refuse to stop making movies.” – Kathryn Bigelow
Rachel Morrison – Cinematographer
Rachel Morrison started her camera career working on reality TV shows like The Hills and short documentaries. She climbed the ranks in television and movies until eventually becoming the cinematographer for films like Fruitvale Station and Dope. In 2017 she earned a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for her work on Mudbound, which made her the very first woman to be nominated in the category.
Most recently she joined forces with Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler again to become the DP for Black Panther. A female as the Director of Photography on such a big-budget, high-concept film is unheard of. In fact, in 2015 the American Society of Cinematographers had only 14 active female members out of 360 members (less than 4%). So, to say that her nomination and success is groundbreaking would be an understatement.
“When people ask me why there are so few female DPs it makes no sense to me. Everything about what we do actually speaks to women’s strengths like empathy and visualizing emotion.” – Rachel Morrison
One of Our Own
Another pioneer in the production world is our President and Founder, Heidi McLean. This month Crew Connection celebrates 30 years of successfully connecting the best talent in the industry with the right jobs and clients. From movies and TV to commercials and corporate videos, Heidi has also left her mark on this male-dominated industry and we are proud to be a part of her journey.