Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s new action movie The Old Guard is among the year’s most-watched Netflix original films, and the director made her movie in a way that no other action film of this scale ever has: the film’s post-production team was made up of 85% women.
That type of gender ratio, according to Prince-Bythewood, “very rarely happens on any movie, but on an action film, I guarantee you that’s never happened before.”
Gina Prince-Bythewood, who has previously directed films like Love & Basketball and Beyond the Lights, recently became the first Black woman to direct a Hollywood comic book movie with The Old Guard, an action thriller based on Greg Rucka’s comic about a team of immortal warriors who welcome a new member into their ranks. THR says that 85% of the movie’s post-production team was comprised of women, an unheard-of number that will hopefully become more of a commonplace occurrence in the industry thanks to the movie’s success.
(We realize that the perception of a Netflix movie’s “success” is based entirely on numbers that the company itself releases about how many people have watched at least two minutes of a given piece of content. It’s not an ideal system, but it’s all we have at the moment. Last we heard, The Old Guard was on track to be “viewed” by 72 million households over the course of its first month on the streaming service.)
It wasn’t just post-production where women shined when making The Old Guard. Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) and Kiki Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk) led the cast as the movie’s grizzled veteran warrior and its newcomer, respectively, while Terilyn A. Shropshire, Prince-Bythewood’s longtime editor, became the first Black woman to ever edit a Hollywood comic book movie. Sara Bennett, who THR points out is one of only two (!) women to have ever won an Academy Award for visual effects, served as the movie’s VFX supervisor. (She won for her work on Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller Ex Machina.) Tami Reiker was one of the film’s two directors of photography, a job she shared with Barry Ackroyd, and the film also benefited from the work of sound effects supervisor Hayley Williams (Annihilation) and costume designer Mary Vogt (Crazy Rich Asians).
Prince-Bythewood, who gave props to Wonder Woman filmmaker Patty Jenkins for pushing the door open for female directors on films of this scale, said that talented women don’t often get the same chances as men in their same fields. “I know for a fact that it doesn’t have to do with talent, it has to do with opportunity,” she said. “There are so many women out there who are so good at what they do, but they just haven’t gotten the chance. Their being on my crew, being a part of the film, makes the film better.”
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