Shannon Murphy: Male directors face stiffer competition from women for work

Shannon Murphy has said male directors are facing more competition for jobs that women were previously “always working 10 times harder to get”.

The filmmaker is nominated in the best director category at the Baftas for her film Babyteeth.

She said progress has been made on gender equality in the film industry.

Speaking during a Bafta event, Murphy told the PA news agency: “I have male contemporaries that are often making jokes about, ‘Wow, isn’t it a great time to be a woman’.

“And I go, ‘You know what, it’s actually just now you have to work as hard as us to get the jobs that we were always working 10 times harder to get’.”

Female directors were entirely absent from the Bafta shortlist in 2020.

However this year, four of the six nominees are women, with nods going to Murphy, Jasmila Zbanic for Quo Vadis, Aida?, Sarah Gavron for Rocks and Chloe Zhao for Nomadland, as well as Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round and Lee Isaac Chung for Minari.

Murphy said the increased representation of women is “actually just female directors getting recognised for being better in some ways, because we have had to work so much harder”.

She added: “For whatever reasons, our work was being ignored and yet throughout the history of filmmaking, there’s been extraordinary female filmmakers that haven’t been given the recognition they deserve.”

59th BFI London Film Festival – Suffragette Premiere
Sarah Gavron (Ian West/PA)

Gavron said she hopes “finally… that we have turned a corner” with regards to female representation in the film industry.

She added: “I say it really nervously but just because I have watched years of it being unchanging, but let’s hope.

“I think the next hurdle is really making this industry accessible for people from different socio-economic backgrounds and also different ethnicities because as much as we have had a breakthrough in terms of women, we have still got a long, long way to go in that respect.”