Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow is taking flak for comments he made over the weekend suggesting female directors are “not interested” in helming big-budget blockbuster films.
Trevorrow, who was just tapped to direct the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX, waded into the debate about gender inequality in the film business in an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Asked about studios’ seemingly increased willingness to gamble on big-budget films with male directors instead of female, Trevorrow told the paper: “Obviously it’s very lopsided, and hopefully it’s going to change as time goes on. But it hurts my feelings when I’m used as an example of white, male privilege. I know many of the female filmmakers who are being referred to in these articles. These women are being offered these kinds of movies, but they’re choosing not to make them.
“I think it makes them seem like victims to suggest that they’re not getting the opportunities and not artists who know very clearly what kind of stories they want to tell and what films they want to make,” he added. “To me, that’s the reality.”
On Friday, a Twitter user asked Trevorrow whether he believed he would have gotten the chance to direct Jurassic World, which has since gone on to become the third highest-grossing film of all time, if he were female.
“I want to believe that a filmmaker with both the desire and ability to make a studio blockbuster will be given an opportunity to make their case,” the director replied with a statement. “I stress desire because I honestly think that’s a part of the issue. Many of the top female directors in our industry are not interested in doing a piece of studio business for its own sake. These filmmakers have clear voices and stories to tell that don’t necessarily involve superheroes or spaceships or dinosaurs.”
— Colin Trevorrow (@colintrevorrow) August 21, 2015
Trevorrow may have been referring to Selma director Ava DuVernay, who was recently offered the opportunity to direct the Black Panther superhero movie for the powerhouse Marvel Studios but ultimately declined due to creative differences.
Still, Trevorrow drew swift backlash from several of his female colleagues on Twitter.
“I cannot begin to tell you how naive & wrong it is,” Hysteria director Tanya Wexler tweeted at Trevorrow. “I have all the desire in the world. I would kill to make a blockbuster.”
— Mynette Louie (@mynette) August 22, 2015
Actress Jamie King was more harsh with her criticism, telling the director “it’s unfortunate that you believe this.”
— Jaime King (@Jaime_King) August 21, 2015
“I believe that there is an imbalance in our industry that needs to change, and it will,” Trevorrow responded to King. “If I’m muddling my point, I apologize.”
Trevorrow has since issued a statement clarifying his comments, in which he said he has “no idea” if he would have been chosen to direct Jurassic World if he were female:
“The last thing I’d want to communicate is that I don’t acknowledge this problem exists. I think the problem is glaring and obvious. And while it does make me a little uncomfortable to be held up as an example of everything that’s wrong, this is an important dialogue to have, so let’s have it.
Would I have been chosen to direct Jurassic World if I was a female filmmaker who had made one small film? I have no idea. I’d like to think that choice was based on the kind of story I told and the way I chose to tell it. But of course it’s not that simple. There are centuries-old biases at work at every level, within all of us. And yes, it makes me feel shitty to be perceived as part of this problem, because it’s an issue that matters so much to me. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t talk about it in the first place.
I do stand by the idea that a great many people in the film industry want this to change. I have made attempts at every turn to help turn the tide, and I will continue to do it. When I got the script for “Lucky Them,” released last year, I advocated hard for my friend Megan Griffiths to direct. She did, and she made a wonderful film (see it please). On my next project, “Book of Henry,” nearly all of my department heads and producers are women. Will I give a female filmmaker the same chance Steven Spielberg gave me someday? Let’s hope that when I do, it won’t even be noteworthy. It will be the status quo.
I came home from New York tonight and saw my daughter again after a week away. This had come up earlier in the day, so it was on my mind. I did think a lot about how vital it is for me to empower her now, even at age 3. To encourage her to go out and grab whatever it is she wants in life, to lead. It starts with the constant, steady assurance that the top job is attainable.
Becoming a filmmaker is not easy. It’s years of rejection and disappointment and it’s very hard, often grueling work. The job takes insane levels of endurance and sometimes delusional amounts of self-confidence. All I can do is raise one girl with that kind of fearlessness, then let her choose her path. That’s my contribution. The rest is up to her.”