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Jodie Foster: Even female studio execs 'see female directors as a risk'

April 20, 2011 | 12:36 pm

Jodiefoster In an era when women account for only 7% of the directors of Hollywood movies, Jodie Foster is the rare female whom financiers will back to helm any film, never mind a marketing challenge like "The Beaver," her upcoming $20-million tragicomedy about depression starring Mel Gibson.

When asked about the industry statistics during a recent interview promoting "The Beaver," Foster said she thought the low numbers of female directors were a result of studio executives' fears of uncertainty.

"I don’t think it’s a plot and these guys sat around and said let’s keep these women out," Foster said. "I think it’s like race psychology. When a producer hires a director, you’re hiring away your control completely. You’re bringing on somebody that will change everything. When you give that amount of power up, you want them to look like you and talk like you and think like you and it’s scary when they don’t, because what’s gonna happen? I’m gonna hand over $60 million to somebody I don’t know. I hope they look like me."

When it was mentioned that many studio executives do, in fact, look like her -- a 48-year-old white female veteran of the industry, Foster nodded. "And name the lists that come out of the female studio executives: guy, guy, guy, guy," she said. "Their job is to be as risk-averse as possible. They see female directors as a risk."

Foster got her first directing opportunity on 1991's "Little Man Tate" from male executives at Orion Pictures. In 1989, she won the lead actress Academy Award for "The Accused."

"I was acting in 'Little Man Tate' for almost no money and I had just won an Oscar," said Foster. "They were under almost no financial risk whatsoever. The real pioneers are someone that didn’t have the 'in' that I had. I had guys who knew me. I was like their daughter."

Foster, whose three films as a director have all been family dramas, said she isn't sure what she'll direct next and backed off comments she made at the South by Southwest Film Festival last month about helming a sci-fi thriller. "I’m not sure that’s gonna work out," Foster said. "But I’d like to apply what I know in other genres." Foster cited films she has appeared in as an actor, like the thriller "Panic Room," horror movie "Silence of the Lambs" and action film "The Brave One" as examples of genres in which she'd like to direct.

Asked if she would ever direct a $200-million effects-laden film, Foster said, "I would and I could, if at the heart of it there's something that moves me."


Foster defends film, Gibson

--Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Jodie Foster walks the red carpet before a screening of her new film "The Beaver" at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Credit: Jack Plunkett / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (11)

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Jodie Foster has been a credible actor and director for decades and shouldn't have too much trouble finding capital for new projects. I wonder if she will ever consider grooming other female directors, bring them under her wing, so to speak, in order to improve fiananciers image of the tutelage among less experienced female directors. This is how it happens with the men, it just doesn't stand out given that it's the norm.

Yeah, I can't figure out why they wouldn't give Jodie upfront cash for her movies. The casting of Mel Gibson was a little piece of female genius---no worries there!!!

Judging by the reviews Gibson's performance has got, it was great casting. Just no one saw those tape recordings coming.

Gibson's performance in "The Beaver" is Oscar worthy. It will be interesting to see if he gets snubbed by Hollywood the same way Mickey Rourke did for "The Wrestler."

Gibson and Foster are a dynamic duo. Can't wait to see them back on the big screen together again. ;-)

Ever notice that feminists only care about numbers when they don't benefit from them. But when you start talking about the percentage of men working in mines or dying in wars, suddenly they don't care about equality so much: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_2LpLhOsc4

A tragicomedy about depression starring Mel Gibson and directed by Jodie Foster? I'm sold!

The only worry I have is that the movie could go in territories already explored to death by Woody Allen - but why one should care about the director's gender? It's really beyond me.

I completely agree with Amanda below. Hollywood is a business like any other. Maybe the problem is with the material they are presenting to financiers is not interesting or not marketable. Maybe they are not interviewing well when talking to potential business partners by bringing up topics that make them sound jaded or entitled. Maybe the problem is that these women do not seem to have an auteur sensibility, such as in the case of Terry Gilliam or David Lynch, that they would be making movies whether in or out of the Hollywood system. There could be lots of reasons why there are less female directors, but it seems rather conspiratorial or unrealistic that it is for the reasons that Foster mentions.

I think a lot of what gets green-lit has to do with its marketability to the widest demographic. Kathryn Bigelow, for instance, directed Point Break, Strange Days & K-9: The Widowmaker early in her career. They were big-budget action films & had marketable stars or concept.

The whole "marketability" argument is bogus. Hollywood will keep making dumb male buddy films like "The Hall Pass", by (male) directors with no imagination, no matter how many of them bomb. But if a single woman-directed movie fails, then it's like women can't direct good movies that make money. The fact is Hollywood is just like most of the corporate world--a boys club.

If you wonder about them not backing female directors just ask yourself one question...How much money have her movies made?. Thats it, thats all that matters to them.

Sadly jodie fosters film have made no money and those family dramas films are not a commercial genre.

Also lets not forget that hollywood has a reason to hate Mel Gibson.
So is a fact that they may be a little biased for obvious reasons. Which i think stinks because i love him as an actor and director.


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