White, Male ‘Lego’ Movie Director Promises More Strong Females In Sequel

Lego-movie

Ok we admit it, we didn’t go and see the ‘Lego’ movie because it wasn’t our thing. But there’s a VERY good chance we will see the sequel. Why? Because the director Chris McKay has just become our new favorite male in Hollywood. Chris was the animation co-director on this film, but was given the role of Director for the sequel by Warner Bros.

We all know the ratio of male to female in Hollywood across the board is pretty dismal for the ladies. We need better representation on screen which means we need more female writers, directors, casting directors, producers and studio executives who will be more inclined to create better portrayals of our gender.

In an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail, Chris talked about taking charge and ramping up the strong female characters in the ‘Lego’ movie sequel. Yes!

The only major female character in the movie was Wyldstyle voiced by the talented and feisty Elizabeth Banks.

“I’m not sure our movie passes the Bechdel test entirely and I think that it’s important,’ he said.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Bechdel test, it was started in Sweden and named after Alison Bechdel who introduced the concept in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For in 1985. The concept of the test? There are only three questions in it and the answer must be yes to all three questions in order for a film to pass the test. (1) Does the film have at least 2 female characters in it? (2) Do those female characters talk to each other? (3) Do they talk to each other about something other than a man? Almost 70% of the top grossing 250 films on IMDb cannot pass this test.

This concept has now been adopted as a universal standard to assuring audiences a film has a gender balance.

“According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, of the top grossing 250 films in 2013, women accounted for 6% of (U.S.) directors, 10% of writers, 15% of executive producers, 25% of producers, 17% of editors, and 3% of cinematographers. This actually marks a decline in women’s employment since 1998 in each of these areas except for producers, which has increased by 1%,” writes Aimee Lagos at the Hollywood Journal. A state state of statistics to be sure!

Chris McKay says the ‘Lego’ Movie, which made over $400 million at the box office internationally, had a heavy female presence behind the scenes which made him want to do better for the sequel on-screen in terms of female representation.

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“For us we have a lot of producers that were female who had concerns and we were always constantly saying to ourselves: ‘Are we just a bunch of white guys sitting here making this movie from our own myopic point of view?’ ”

“We were constantly responding to that question and that helped us make Wyldstyle a better character and Unikitty a more interesting character. I think it’s forcing us to look at how we make a sequel and turn that into something that’s more powerful and special,” he continued.

The good news is that Chris has already been contracted to direct the sequel, which means his intentions are more likely to be carried over to the second installment.

It is both surprising and exciting to hear a man, who has worked in Hollywood for more than 10 years, see the need and relevance of more strong female characters. The fact that he is a fan or even knows about the Bechdel test is evidence that he cares and will hopefully use his power to make a difference.

“Sexism is something that’s part of our culture and something that we need to adjust People, when they make movies, they have a responsibility to at least examine that,” he said.

“Obviously you have to look at the kind of story you’re trying to tell and the theme, but people don’t underestimate the value of hard, cool female characters who have their own agency. That’s the thing we’re not doing enough as filmmakers.”

Serious props to Chris McKay in the hope that he will inspire more men in Hollywood to care about the content they are making and to think about how women are portrayed.

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8 Comments

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