It is important to understand how women filmmakers dominated the TV and Film industry and how things have changed over the century's. They made it possible for us to do the craft we love. We need to observe these historical figures to really understand that it was them who gave women filmmakers a chance in the industry today.
First Female Director: Alice Guy Blaché - 1896
Alice Guy Blaché was born in Paris in 1873. Her first job was working as a secretary for Léon Gaumont he owned a photography business, this was going to be the start of her passion for images. It was when herself and Léon attended an exhibition that was put on by the Lumiére Brothers that her life was about to change. The Lumeiére Brothers had invented a camera which could record moving images and Alice was so impressed by the footage she watched at the exhibition that Léon purchased one. In 1896 Alice made a short film called 'The Cabbage Fairy'a silent movie about a Lady Fairy retrieving babies from a cabbage patch. The Cabbage Fairy was a commission for the shop to show the customers what the camera's could do, it had a great response which surprised Alice as she didn't think it was that great she stated "the film had enough success that I was allowed to do it again" This was the era when film production companies was just getting started, so Léon started his own company - The Gaumont Film company, Alice made every film for the company and worked there for 11 years. Alice eventually moved to New York with her new husband Herbert Balché-Bolton an English man who worked as a camera operator on her earlier films, it was there she and her husband set up there own production company and in 1910 she built Solex Studios in New Jersey. She oversaw over 300 films and directed and least 50, but Hollywood companies was taking over, they had bigger budgets and more household names, so in 1922 after her marriage had collapsed and she could no longer compete with Hollywood she moved back to France. Alice went back to the US five years later to get the copies of the movies that she had made, there wasn't one single copy left. This was common in the silent era, once a picture was shown they destroyed the negatives. Alice was devastated.
Today only 130 films remain out of all the films that she had made, in the end she had to rely on her children for financial support as she was broke and couldn't find work, it became a very male dominated role. In 1953 the French Government discovered Alice's accomplishments, and gave her the 'Legion of Honour'. In 1954 Léon Gaumonts son publicly said "Madame Alice Guy Blaché, the first female filmmaker has been unjustly forgotten" it was then that she became apart of history. In 1968 Alice passed away. In 2011 Martin Scorsese mentioned Alice at an award show stated it was 'a tragedy, Alice was a pioneer in audiovisual story-telling ... more than a talented business women, she was a filmmaker of rare sensitivity, with remarkable poetic eye and an extraordinary feel for locations"
The First Short Film: Directed By Alice Guy-Blaché 'The Cabbage Fairy' - 1896
The First Film Editor: Margaret Booth - 1915
Margaret Booth started her career as a 'Patcher' which was a term used for cutting negatives from a film, cutting them and 'patching together'.
It was D.W Griffith (film director)that started the revolutionised art of cutting film. At the start of cinema this did not exist.
In 1919 the process of 'Patching' became easier when a machines where introduced. The machines looked like sewing machines, they had a peddle and a spy hole to see the film closer, before the machines the 'Patchers' would have to run the negatives fast through there fingers to see the picture and where they needed to cut and patch.
Being a 'patcher' was a low entry job and there was a-lot of females doing the job, that was until the 1920'-30's when it was classed as a skilled role.
When Margaret joined the Hollywood legend Louis B Mayer she worked closely with the John M Stahl. Stahle was a director who 'patched' his own films, Margaret observed his work closely and when he had finished with his cuts, she would collect the scraps and practise her skills. John was so impressed that he hired her on the spot.
The first ever title of Editor was given to Margaret by Irvin Thalberg, as being a 'patcher' or 'Cutter' didn't live up to the Standard of the work she produced, Making Margaret Booth not the first female editor but officially the first ever Editor.
Frances Marion: Award Winning Writer - 1917
France Marion was the first women to win two Academy Award in the same field, she was also the highest paid writer in the 1920's - 30's.
Marion’s first sound script was for Anna Christie (1930), an adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s play that was also Greta Garbo’s sound debut. Marion successfully lobbied to have her friend Marie Dressler cast in a supporting role in the film and further helped to revive Dressler’s career by scripting Min and Bill (1930) for her. Dressler won an Academy Award for that film, which costarred Wallace Beery. Marion wrote several other screenplays for Beery, including The Big House (1930) and The Champ (1931), both of which won her Academy Awards. In 1940, after writing more than 130 screenplays, Marion retired but continued writing novels and stories. For a time, she also taught scriptwriting at the University of Southern California. Her memoirs of her Hollywood years, Off with Their Heads, appeared in 1972.
Marion is recognized as one of Hollywood’s most significant film writers. She was acclaimed for her skill at writing scenarios and adaptations that highlighted a star’s particular talents, her ability to create original, genuine characters, and her sometimes spare use of dialogue. Her early experience during the silent era taught her to make use of the visual strengths of film and of the facial expressions of actors to convey meaning. Included among her notable films are Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), The Son of the Sheik (1926), Dinner at Eight (1933), and Camille (1937) www.britannica.com/