State of the art: Women call few of film's digital shots


It's too bad women can't computer-generate more of their own participation in the technical side of filmmaking. Digital animation and visual effects are so widespread today that studios can end up using them in nearly every shot. Yet as the trend grows, women may be lagging behind even more in the digital arts than they are in the film and tech industries generally. In tracking women in the film industry, San Diego State University professor Martha Lauzen found that they were "dramatically underrepresented" as visual effects supervisors.

Among the top 250 grossing films in the United States in 2013, women accounted for 5 percent of such positions -- below directors (6 percent), writers (10 percent) and producers (25 percent), according to Lauzen's study, "The Celluloid Ceiling." All 52 people honored in 2014 at the Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were men.

The Academy's Visual Effects branch has 322 active members, and while it won't say how many are women, a Los Angeles Times investigation from 2012 put the number at 3 percent; their membership in the Academy overall is 23 percent. Many who spoke to Reuters agree that the problem lies in the workplace, not in any lack of appetite for the field.

But both men and women point to the toll of the industry's brutal hours. Many of the 52 men collecting the Academy's sci-tech awards in February thanked their spouses for putting up with their long days. At the visual effects houses, the regular workweek is around 50 hours, but there are often months of 70-80 hour weeks and even 100 hours in a film's final crunch time. Those demands can prove intolerable for women with children.

State of the art: Women call few of film's digital shots