Horrifying Stories From Women On Film Sets

The True Monster of Halloween is the Sexism

We made a post a while ago with 10 stories from real women working on film sets that just went to show how deeply seeded the misogyny is in the film industry. For this spooky season I thought it only fitting to showcase the true horror of sexism that has and continues to occur within film productions.


#1

I was working on a short film that had no budget, that I had the chance to produce. I got a call from the director telling me he was letting me go and wouldn’t credit me because while I was sitting around doing nothing (when in fact I was actually writing contracts and call sheets) he had to get coffee orders from the crew. The crew was made up of all his mates and I was one of only three women on set (the other women were also his friends). He said it should have been my responsibilty to get coffee for everyone. But he did tell me not to let this get me down or discourage me because I am a “strong, independant woman.” I wanted to kick him and his false feminist word vomit in the balls.

Story from Shit People Say to Women Directors.

#2

Tippi Hendren was unfortunately abused by director Alfred Hitchock during filming of his classic horror film The Birds. He famously locked Hedren in a room with live, angry birds to get a realistic performance, had someone follow her often, creeped out her daughter, and even took Hedren’s handwriting to an analyst. The episode with the live birds caused her to have a mental breakdown and she had to be hospitalised.

#3

While I was in film school we had a male Sound Mixer who was notorious for not following the direction of female students during their mix sessions. Another classmate said, “just flirt with him and he’ll be easier to handle.” It was what she “did all the time.”  

Story from Shit People Say to Women Directors.

#4

The Assistant Director came up to me and said, “I need to give you a tour of the backlot.” However, about 10 minutes into chatting he asks if I want to make out (while playing with his zipper). I politely decline. Come to find out,  I am not invited back for the rest of the shoot. 

This still pisses me off. 

What pisses me off even more is the fact that I kicked myself for ages for saying no. 

Story from Shit People Say to Women Directors.

#5

I attended a meeting with a woman Producer who previously claimed to want more women Directors on her show. When I asked about Directing an episode she said, “we already hired our two women for the season. Depending on how they do, we might be able to hire a woman to direct an episode next season.” So, she was assuming that the work of one woman reflects the abilities of all women?! I didn’t even know how to continue the conversation.

Story from Shit People Say to Women Directors.

#6

Mabel Normand was one of the major female players in the the silent age of Hollywood cinema. She starred in at least 167 shorts and 23 feature films, and worked with silent movie greats like Mack Sennett, D.W. Griffith, and Charlie Chaplin. Supposedly Normand did direct at least one film, Mabel at the Wheel, but her credit mysteriously vanished and instead given to her co-workers.

Records list her as the director of Mabel at the Wheel, but other sources say it was a collaborative effort. Chaplin allegedly questioned her competence and claimed to have directed all his films himself. However, Sennett contradicted this, saying he believed Chaplin learned everything he knew about directing movies from Normand.

#7

Game of Thrones star Lena Headey recently said that she has to constantly repeat herself on sets crowded with men in order to be heard. Her male counterparts, however, only have to say something once and everyone listens.

She also recalled a horrifying audition during which a casting director told her “The men take these tapes home and watch them and say, ‘Who would you f***?'”

Story quoted from Harpers Bazaar article

#8

‘You’ll never work in this town again.’ A cliché to be sure, but also what a producer threatened when I refused to pose semi-naked on the cover of a men’s magazine to promote our film. I was no longer willing to subject myself to a naïve compromise that I had previously been willing to. ‘I will never work in this town again?’ I was livid, I felt objectified, and for the first time in my career I said ‘no.’ And guess what? The world didn’t end. The film made a lot of money and I did work in this town again, and again, and again.’

Mila Kunis for A Plus

#9

I was interviewing for a Director position and at one point the person interviewing me said, “Now, the Director he needs to…” That’s when I realised I wasn’t in mind for the position at all. 

Surprise, he ended up hiring a man!

#10

I was running Digital Imaging Technician on a set with no other women. At noon the producer asked me to drop what I was doing and get lunch orders, including the lunch order of the male PAs who were “busy.” They were not busy at all.


These certainly are horror stories, but there are films being made out there with harmonious and gender equal sets where each crew member is respected and valued. We write about a lot of them in our featured filmmaker posts which you can check out here.

Working on a film you’d like featured? Send us an email via the contact us page.

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