22 September 2017

BFI Filmography Reveals Full Extent of Industry’s Gender Imbalance Over the Past Century

The BFI has this week launched the BFI Filmography, the world’s first complete and accurate living record of UK cinema, which means everyone – from film fans and industry professionals to researchers and students – can now search and explore British film history, for free. The resource draws on credits from over 10,000 films, from the first UK film released in cinemas in 1911 through to present day, and charts the 250,000 cast and crew behind them.

Gender imbalance

The Filmography’s data relating to gender will not be particularly surprising to anyone working in the industry, but demonstrates more clearly than any previous study how little real progress has been made in over a century. For example, 31% of actors cast in films produced in 1913 were women, which is higher than the 30% recorded in 2017.

WFTV CEO Kate Kinninmont said: “We welcome this new data tool from the BFI, which gives us the most comprehensive evidence yet of the gender imbalance which has existed in the industry for over 100 years. It is a loud and clear wake-up call to the UK film industry, and should act as a further catalyst to public and commercial bodies in a position to drive change to increase their efforts to do just that.”

The data also revealed that only 4.5% of all films have been directed by a woman, and between 1913 and 2017 less than 1% of films had a majority female crew (and perhaps more shockingly only 7% since 2000). Women make up only 5% of those working in music, and 6% of those working in photography and sound.

The most prolific female director is Muriel Box, with 13 films. Christine Edzard, Gurinder Chadha and Sally Potter follow behind her having made seven each. Commenting on the data, Chadha said “The tragedy of what we are talking about is that our stories aren’t there and that is a great loss to us as a nation and to us as an industry.”

Other interesting facts

As well as providing useful information for the industry, the Filmography is a treasure trove or interesting facts and pub-quiz trivia.

For example, the most common word in film titles was found to be ‘Man’ (which says a lot).

It was also revealed that Britain makes more films about war than sex, and more about Europe than Great Britain.

Dame Judi Dench is the most prolific working female actor (Sir Michael Caine being the most prolific working male actor), whilst Kate Dickie is the most credited female film actor of the current decade. Commenting on the data, Dickie said: “I thought things were getting better and this is horrifically depressing,” adding “Why is it such a battle? It is not getting better quick enough.”


Click here to explore the BFI Filmography.