Following the great success of TV shows like Killing Eve, in which each season enlists a different female showrunner, women scriptwriters are arguably paving the way for a new wave of female-fronted content in TV and cinema.
Writing for the Sun Online, former Top Gear presenter and journalist Jeremy Clarkson states, “In the world of modern-day television and film, women are cleaning up.” He’s specifically referring to women like Phoebe Waller-Bridge – a worthy contender in the field of female showrunners. She’s the brains behind the witty writing of Fleabag, as well as the immaculate first season of Killing Eve. And, as far as intelligent and funny writing goes, Phoebe seems to know exactly what will leave an audience in stitches (and she’s an incredible actress, too).
“It’s always annoyed me that writers are never really recognised for their contribution to a show or a movie, and that’s why I’m thrilled to bits that Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been invented,” says the 59-year-old car expert.
“Because she’s become something we’ve never really had before – a superstar writer,” he continues.
He highlights the work of equally impactful female scriptwriters to cement his thoughts, naming the likes of Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass/Kingsman) who he describes as another “writing genius,” Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled/Lost in Translation).
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In illustrating what makes these female writers so special, Jeremy adds, “They’re not sitting on Twitter demanding better pay. They’re sitting at their laptops, long into the night, and earning it. And I hope they’re being rewarded. Because they’re putting some va-va-voom into what is easily the most important part of any production. It’s not the direction or the acting or the battle scenes. It’s the writing.”
Figures published last year by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain revealed some astounding statistics when it came to female screenwriters, though there was definitely room for improvement. Among its findings, it revealed that 28 percent of all UK-production TV episodes between 2001 and 2016 were predominantly female-written. It also showed that 14 percent of prime time programming was largely female-written, while this figure stood at 27 percent for morning programming.
Undoubtedly, there’s a significant rise in female scriptwriters as of late and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Just last May, Netflix released the film Wine Country — a film written by Emily Spivey and Liz Cackowski, with Amy Poehler (of SNL and Parks and Recreation fame) in the director’s chair. In 2017, Greta Gerwig’s film Lady Bird (which she wrote and directed) earned five Academy-Award nominations. Other honourable mentions include the 1982 classic ET, written by Melissa Mathison, and Oscar-Award-Winning The Shape Of Water, co-written by Vanessa Taylor.
We’re hopeful this trend continues to blossom and we can’t wait to see the world of TV and film teeming with impactful female voices in the future.
By Features Writer Marike Watson