Universal Cable Productions (UCP) has brought on four female directors to helm some of its biggest pilots. Variety reports the NBCUniversal company hired Ana Lily Amirpour, Steph Green, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, and Kari Skogland for the gigs.
According to UCP co-president Dawn Olmstead, pilot directing offers studios a unique chance to branch out in their hiring process and increase inclusivity. “This wasn’t a place where we needed to start an initiative to open people’s minds to giving more of these pilot swings to female directors,” she said. “It was kind of in the ether already — which for someone like me was awesome, or else I would have come here and started a bunch of initiatives.”
The ever-growing amount of content being created also inspired UCP to find new creative voices. “We have three times more shows at least since I came here [in 2014],” Olmstead observed. “Also I think we’ve broadened our reach out to other networks [outside NBCUniversal] and we’ve jumped way more into the premium space.” Premium drama buyers want “to have very authentic, very special voices helming our projects,” she revealed. “So we cast a way wider net than the normal ‘How do we find our pilot director?’”
Amirpour, the director of “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” and “The Bad Batch,” will helm USA Network pilot “Briarpatch.” Starring Rosario Dawson, the show is about a D.C. investigator who goes home to Texas to hunt down her sister’s killer. Amirpour’s other credits include episodes of “Legion” and “Breakthrough.”
Green will also take on a USA pilot. Based on Megan Abbott’s novel, “Dare Me” is set in a small town and explores fraught female friendships. Green previously helmed feature “Run & Jump” as well as episodes of series such as “The Americans,” “Scandal,” and “You’re the Worst.”
The first ep of Hulu true crime anthology “The Act” will be directed by de Clermont-Tonnerre. From Michelle Dean and Nick Antosca, the series’ first season centers on the destructive relationship between Gypsy Blanchard and her overprotective mother, which eventually led to murder. De Clermont-Tonnerre is the director of crime rehabilitation drama “Mustang” and shorts “Rabbit” and “Atlantic Avenue.” Also an actress, she has appeared in projects including “Through the Air” and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”
Veteran TV director Skogland is set to helm the entire series adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five.” The classic 1969 novel is a satirical, sci-fi story about a WWII soldier who can travel through time. “Slaughterhouse-Five” is now being shopped by UCP. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Walking Dead,” and “The Americans” are among Skogland’s recent credits.
The news of Amirpour, Green, de Clermont-Tonnerre, and Skogland’s hiring is extremely welcome. Per Variety, NBCUniversal research found that “of the 242 scripted pilots across broadcast, cable, and streaming that currently have directors attached, only 17 percent are women.” A DGA study concluded that women helmed just 21 percent of TV episodes from the 2016–17 season.