i sent the bll article to two of my coworkers and both of them had worked on a project where a similar situation happened (*hint hint*… it involves a certain director of a halloween film directing the pilot of an upcoming apple show, but i’m not naming names). this is just the way the “tv” industry works, sadly. it’ll never be considered a “director’s medium” by the executives, no matter how much “prestige television” is “changing” and “evolving.” and as this twitter thread details, film and any other video content is moving away from that concept as well.
I just want to add that while everything MZS and @01sentencereviews is saying is quite correct my own personal frustration with watching this all go down is how Arnold seems to be part of a larger movement of Hollywood trying to “embrace” women directors but hiring them pêle-mêle to projects regardless of whether they’re a good fit or not.
In the short time I’ve run this blog I’ve seen huge strides in terms of women directors gaining footholds in the film industry both in terms of commercial and critical success (it’s still not close to enough but the gains are undeniable). But what is so frustrating to me is seeing how, now that the big studios see that it is good pr to hire women they seem to be hiring them… very carelessly. Arnold is one of the most awarded women in her field. She is a critical darling, has an Oscar, a BAFTA and has won THREE Jury prizes for the three times she’s been in competition in Cannes (this is both rare and impressive). Now there are a LOT of directors who go work in TV and are capable of adding their own little touches and flares while still staying true to the style set by the shows first directors in the pilot. There are lots of women capable of doing this (see all the directors on Queen Sugar or all the women (and men) who followed Reed Morano after she set the tone with the first three eps of The Handmaid’s Tale). So I have zero idea why HBO and the BLL producers would hire Arnold, promote the fact that they had a visionary doing the second season, encourage her to shoot the second season her own way and then… re-cut it and re-shoot it to more closely match the first season.
Like on the one hand I am happy and pleased that so many women directors who struggled on the indie scene are getting chances to stretch their legs budget and style wise. One of the most successful examples I can think of is Susanne Bier, who I was a long time fan of, totally surprising me with the stylish way she served up The Night Manager. But this Andrea Arnold debacle is feeling like an all too familiar pattern repeating itself. Like when Lucrecia Martel talked about meeting with Marvel for Captain Marvel when it’s so obvious to anyone who has seen even one of her movies or read just one of her interviews that she wouldn’t fit that style of filmmaking at all. It’s also why I have really mixed feelings about Cate Shortland taking on Black Widow. I’m sure the money and exposure is wonderful but her films are so incredible and unique and have such a strength of vision that I’m afraid Marvel will deliberately quash.
And the frustrating thing is there are SO MANY women directors who would suit a more popular and conventional filming style who would LOVE to do these type of films and TV shows. But they’ll never be hired because their more generic styles of filming doesn’t rake in the awards and these studios only look at who has the hardware and then sets about destroying everything unique about the directors that made them win these awards in the first place. It is so dumb and frustrating and disrespectful. And yes, this happens to male directors too, but I feel like this sort of mis-matched hiring is way, way more common with women where studios seem to think that hiring a woman would be good so any woman will do!
All directors are unique, if you want to hire a woman director that’s awesome, just hire one that actually fits the project!
Apologies to @01sentencereviews for adding this long rant to their original post. If you have no idea what I’m talking about I’m re-linking the original ;article about Andrea Arnold’s experience on the second season of Big Little Lies