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Brain Food: Female Film Directors


Frances McDormand won the Oscar for Best Actress Sunday for her performance in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” In her acceptance speech McDormand asked all the female nominees in the audience to stand—from actors, to directors, to writers. She challenged film financiers to see that women have stories to tell and projects that need funding. 

Filmmaker Cady McClain shares that vision. Her documentary, “Seeing is Believing: Women Direct,” screened at this year’s Sedona International Film Festival. It offers mentorship to aspiring female filmmakers.

“I really want to encourage women to try and to say, ‘I’m going to do this and if it sucks, that’s OK, I’m not going to let it stop me, I’m going to make another one.’ I think that’s what women need to have, encouragement to risk,” she says.

Credit Cady McClain

Of 2017’s top 250 films, women made up just 18 percent of all directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers. That’s according to the “Celluloid Ceiling” study, released annually by San Diego State University’s Center for Study of Women in Television and Film. McClain wants to change that number.

“Please, please women, make your art and don’t see the world as limited because you have so much to give and what you give and what you create with your art is going to inspire somebody else and give them permission to make their art. And that’s the only way we’re going to go forward, I think, as women is together, kind of encouraging each other, supporting each other, holding each other’s hand, rooting each other on,” she says.

McClain hopes her film highlights a progressive movement toward equality and accessibility for all filmmakers in the industry. 

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