Honey, You Know I Can’t Hear You When You Aren’t in the Room
Key Female Filmmakers Prove the Importance of Having a Female in the Writing Room
The need for more diversity in Hollywood films and television is currently being debated by scholars and content makers alike, but where is the proof that more diverse writers will create more diverse material? Since all forms of art are subjective, there is no perfect way to prove the importance of having female writers in the room except through samples of qualitative case studies of various female writers across the history of film. By studying the writing of several female screenwriters – personal correspondence, interviews and their writing for the screen – this paper will begin to prove that having a female voice in the room has made a difference in several prominent films. It will further hypothesise that greater representation can only create greater opportunity for more female stories and voices to be heard.
Research for my PhD dissertation ‘Married: With Screenplay’ involved the work of several prominent female screenwriters across the first century of filmmaking, including Anita Loos, Dorothy Parker, Frances Goodrich and Joan Didion. In all of their memoirs and other writings about working on screenplays, each mentioned the importance of (often) being the lone woman in the room during pitches and during the development of a screenplay. Goodrich summarised all their experiences concisely when she wrote, ‘I’m always the only woman working on the picture and I hold the fate of the women [characters] in my hand… I’ll fight for what the gal will or will not do, and I can be completely unfeminine about it.’ Also, the rise of female directors, such as Barbra Streisand or female production executives, such as Kathleen Kennedy, prove that one of the greatest assets to having a female voice in the room is the ability to invite other women inside. Therefore, this paper contributes to the scholarship on women in film and to authorship studies.