The new documentary “This Changes Everything” examines the many obstacles that women have faced in the film industry, particularly when it comes to women working behind the camera. But against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement and a larger discussion about the struggles facing women in the workplace, director Tom Donahue is circumspect about whether anything has changed in Hollywood. In our exclusive video interview (watch the video above) Donahue proclaims, “I’m not sure if we are at a tipping point or not… I certainly hope that we are.”
Donahue sees a reluctance to deviate from the status quo as the source of the gender imbalance in the film industry. “It’s really hard to get those powerful men to give up their power,” Donahue claims. “That’s a system, a boy’s club, that’s been in place for many decades. It’s very hard to break that. There’s a lot of inertia involved.”
Among those profiled in the film is Geena Davis, who will be honored this year with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and acts as an executive producer on the film. Davis’s Institute of Gender in Media provided Donahue with a great deal of the data used in the film. Davis had only one condition for joining the film: that the film not revolve around her. “I pitched her,” he remembers. “I said ‘I don’t want any money. I would love to use your data and I would love to tell your story as a fabric of the film.'”
One of the most fascinating points in the film involves FX Chairman John Landgraf, who in recent years has made a conscious effort to diversify the hiring practices of show runners at the network. Landgraf is the one of the few men to appear on camera in the documentary, something that took nearly a year to make happen. “I wanted to have a male in power who was a role model that other males could look up to,” Donahue explains. “I think the film without John Landgraf would not be as effective.”
Despite the growing presence of women and minorities behind the camera, particularly on television, Donahue warns that there is still a long way to go for this issue to resolve itself. “My instinct is that it’s going to be a very long slog, that it’s very hard to break the patriarchy,” Donahue says. “I want to go on record to say I think it’s going to take a long time, and I think all of us have to be conscious of the issue and really really keep on fighting.”
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