The Value Gap
Female-Driven Films from Pitch to Premiere
368 Pages, 20 b&w images, 4 tables
Sales Date: August 8, 2023
How female directors, producers, and writers navigate the challenges and barriers facing female-driven projects at each stage of filmmaking in contemporary Hollywood.
Conversations about gender equity in the workplace accelerated in the 2010s, with debates inside Hollywood specifically pointing to broader systemic problems of employment disparities and exploitative labor practices. Compounded by the devastating #MeToo revelations, these problems led to a wide-scale call for change. The Value Gap traces female-driven filmmaking across development, financing, production, film festivals, marketing, and distribution, examining the realities facing women working in the industry during this transformative moment. Drawing from five years of extensive interviews with female producers, writers, and directors at different stages of their careers, Courtney Brannon Donoghue examines how Hollywood business cultures “value” female-driven projects as risky or not bankable. Industry claims that “movies targeting female audiences don’t make money” or “women can’t direct big-budget blockbusters” have long circulated to rationalize systemic gender inequities and have served to normalize studios prioritizing the white male–driven status quo. Through a critical media industry studies lens, The Value Gap challenges this pervasive logic with firsthand accounts of women actively navigating the male-dominated and conglomerate-owned industrial landscape.
The Value Gap provides a timely study of the contemporary value of female-driven Hollywood feature films between 2016 and 2021 amidst the heightened and long overdue awareness of systemic gender disparities, discrimination, and misconduct in the film industry following the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. A vital work for contemporary media industry studies, The Value Gap illuminates persistent gender disparities at all levels in Hollywood.
— Emily Carman, author of Independent Stardom: Freelance Women in the Hollywood Studio SystemA balanced, academically rigorous, and highly engaging narrative, The Value Gap is unique in its outline of the gendering of film work by tracking production through the various gaps that are frequently referred to but rarely considered in combination. In the author’s ‘pulling together’ of these gaps and challenges that women face, the book is a significant contribution to scholarship in the areas of gender inequality, creative industries, and film studies as well as a valuable teaching tool.
— Anne O'Brien, author of Women, Inequality, and Media Work
- Introduction. Mind the Gaps
- Chapter 1. The Gendered Workplace (Employment Gap)
- Chapter 2. Script Market to Pitch Meetings (Development Gap)
- Chapter 3. Production Work and Gendered Cultures (Leadership Gap)
- Chapter 4. Film Festivals and Markets (Programming Gap)
- Chapter 5. Distribution and Marketing (Bankability Gap)
- Conclusion. Gendered Value in a Changing Media Marketplace