Hollywood Promises Women Will Be Creatively Involved With Transformers and Lumberjanes

By  · Published on May 30th, 2015

Paramount Pictures

Hollywood is listening. They see what you’re complaining about on the blogs and social media and are responding accordingly where they can. They’re not making a found footage Friday the 13th movie because of you. They are making a Deadpool movie because of you. And they’re going to let women have some creative involvement in major franchises because of you, too. Aww, aren’t they sweet?

Just as we saw Saturday Night Live add a couple black women to the cast after criticism about their lack, now we’re going to see studios adding more women to their director shortlists and writer’s rooms following protests from fans and anyone else willing to call bullshit on the sexism of the movie business, still. And it’s not going to just be about how a female filmmaker needs to be at the helm of a female superhero movie anymore.

This week, The Wrap made late updates to two big stories about major Hollywood motion pictures, both involving a sudden clarification that there will be women hires for important jobs on these productions.

First up was Fox, who announced a movie based on the Boom! Studios comic book “Lumberjanes” with male screenwriter Will Widger being handed the job of adapting. The problem is that this is a property created by three women – Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson – and illustrated by another, Brooke A. Allen, and about a group of girls dealing with paranormal activity at a summer camp.

Following outrage on the internet, word came that the studio and the movie’s producers (who include Boom! execs Ross Richie and Stephen Christy) are looking at only women to fill the director’s chair. Of course, none can be named at this time.

Then there was the update this week on the Transformers expanded franchise, how two more white male screenwriters (Ant-Man’s Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari) would join the five other previously announced white males (Akiva Goldsman, Robert Kirkman, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway) in the creative circle working on the series’ sequels and animated origin prequels and Bumblebee spin-offs, etc..

The Wrap’s Jeff Sneider wrote a piece on how the lack of diversity in the mix for this cinematic universe is causing concern from within the industry and also outside from noted critical voices. Again, Sneider was eventually told (possibly before the piece was posted but at least after the issue was being raised on social media and through Sneider’s investigation) that Paramount is in fact in talks with one woman who could join that writer’s room, but she can’t be named until her deal is finalized.

Maybe both the women directors and single woman writer were being targeted for these projects before the complaints, but regardless they both look like reactionary decisions to appease fans and the masses alike.

And the big takeaway here isn’t just the gender inequality issue in Hollywood. It’s that we can make a difference if we’re loud enough. Want the just-canceled Tron 3 back in motion? Let Disney know. Want another TV series reboot to retain its auteur creator as director at any cost? Speak up. Not always, but sometimes changes will be made thanks to you, the people, the consumers.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.