Jurassic World director under fire

Director Colin Trevorrow (right) with lead star Chris Pratt on the set of Jurassic World.
Director Colin Trevorrow (right) with lead star Chris Pratt on the set of Jurassic World.PHOTO: UIP

LONDON • Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow has come under fire after suggesting that female film-makers fail to secure high- profile Hollywood movies because they lack the "desire" to tackle more commercial projects.

Trevorrow, who last week was hired to direct upcoming Star Wars movie Episode IX, entered a Twitter storm after he replied to a follower's remark that he might not have been given the same chances in life had he been a woman.

"I want to believe that a film- maker with both the desire and ability to make a studio blockbuster will be given the opportunity," he responded. "I stress desire because I honestly think that's a part of the issue. Many of the top female directors are not interested in doing a piece of studio business for its own sake. These film-makers have clear voices and stories to tell that don't necessarily involve superheroes or spaceships or dinosaurs."

Trevorrow, who was asked to direct Jurassic World after making one obscure indie feature, 2012's Safety Not Guaranteed, said he did not believe the lack of female directors was a "simple case of exclusion within an impenetrable corporate system".

He added: "It's complex and it involves a component that I think is rarely discussed - very high levels of artistic and creative integrity among female directors. Maybe this opinion makes me naive, but as an employee of two companies run by brilliant women, I don't think I am.

"There is a sincere desire to correct this imbalance. And yes, it does make me feel terrible to be held up as a symptom of a social injustice. I'm a person. Nobody wants to be part of the problem."

His comments immediately drew anger in social media.

The Sin City actor Jaime King wrote: "As the next director of @starwars & the rad Jurassic World @colintrevorrow, it's unfortunate that you believe this." The director replied: "I believe that there is an imbalance in our industry that needs to change and it will. If I'm muddling my point, I apologise."

Trevorrow, who was at the centre of a sexism row over the sexist treatment of Bryce Dallas Howard's dinosaur park manager Claire Dearing in Jurassic World, was taken to task by blogger Angie Han of Slash Film.

Referencing female directors such as The Bababook's Jennifer Kent and Selma's Ava DuVernay, who recently turned down the chance to direct superhero epic Black Panther for Marvel Studios, she wrote: "Is it theoretically possible that the studios have approached some of these women, only to be shot down? Sure. But the fact that their names never crop up in the rumours or shortlists that circulate before any big announcement is telling."

Trevorrow e-mailed a response to the article, telling Han: "The last thing I'd want to communicate is that I don't acknowledge this problem exists. I think the problem is glaring and obvious. And while it does make me a little uncomfortable to be held up as an example of everything that's wrong, this is an important dialogue to have, so let's have it.

"Would I have been chosen to direct Jurassic World if I were a female film-maker who had made one small film? I have no idea. I'd like to think that choice was based on the kind of story I told and the way I chose to tell it. But of course it's not that simple. There are centuries-old biases at work at every level, within all of us.

"I have made attempts at every turn to help turn the tide and I will continue to do it. When I got the script for Lucky Them, released last year, I advocated hard for my friend Megan Griffiths to direct. She did and she made a wonderful film (see it please).

"On my next project, Book Of Henry, nearly all of my department heads and producers are women. Will I give a female film-maker the same chance Steven Spielberg gave me some day?

"Let's hope that when I do, it won't even be noteworthy. It will be the status quo."

A study for the Sundance Film Festival found that only 4.4 per cent of the top-grossing Hollywood films were directed by women between 2002 and 2013.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2015, with the headline 'Jurassic World director under fire'. Print Edition | Subscribe