10 More Women Who Changed Hollywood

Casey de Pont | October 7, 2014
Women have been present in the film industry since its inception, but often in roles that make them all but invisible. Makers: Women in Film brings due recognition to those who have worked hard to make Hollywood more inclusive. While there’s still a long way to go, here are ten more women who changed the shape of the movie industry:

Sally Menke (THIRTEEN / Victoria Malabrigo)

Sally Menke met Quentin Tarantino when she answered his classified ad looking for a cheap film editor. She went on to cut on every single one of Tarantino’s films, from Reservoir Dogs to Inglorious Basterds, helping to develop his signature style with her unconventional application of classic editing techniques.

Peg Hunter was the first woman hired into the optical department at George Lucas’ legendary special effects house, Industrial Light and Magic. Special effects in the days before computer graphics required in-depth understanding of optics, engineering and math — all fields that were traditionally thought of as the territory of men. Peg first worked on Return of the Jedi, which featured some of the most technologically advanced visual effects of its time.

Kathleen Kennedy was hired as Steven Spielberg’s secretary, but she quickly proved that her knack for producing outshone her typing skills by a longshot. She co-produced Poltergeist with Spielberg, and went on to found Amblin Entertainment in 1981 with Spielberg and Frank Marshall. She also produced E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and Jurassic Park, amongst others.

Gale Ann Hurd has produced The Terminator, Aliens, Tremors and numerous other science fiction and action films — two genres traditionally dominated by men. Her latest success has been as executive producer for The Walking Dead, one of 2012’s most highly rated cable programs.

Alma Reville (THIRTEEN / Victoria Malabrigo)

Alma Reville was publicly known as Alfred Hitchcock’s wife, but in private she was highly influential in his script development process, and even contributed directorially. In fact, it was Alma who insisted that Hitchcock use Bernard Hermann’s chilling soundtrack in the shower scene from Psycho.

June Mathis was one of the most powerful women in Hollywood in the 1920s. She served as the first (and most highly paid) female executive at MGM, and wrote the hugely successful 1921 film The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.

Zoe Bell is one of Hollywood’s most accomplished stuntwomen. She’s performed in over 20 films and television shows, including Xena: Warrior Princess and Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2. She fractured a vertebra while filming an episode of Xena, but continued to work through the pain. Her fearlessness and agility have earned her the nickname “Zoe the Cat.”

Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director, for her film The Hurt Locker. Directing other graphic, war-themed films such as Zero Dark Thirty and K-19: The Widowmaker, Bigelow found huge success in a genre that has usually been reserved for men.

Alison Bechdel Although she works as a cartoonist, Alison Bechdel has been a hugely influential figure in the world of film. In her comic Dykes to Watch Out For, she outlines a set of criteria that are meant to score films’ depictions of women.

“It has to (1) have two women in it, (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something
other than a man.”

Simply by calling attention to the multitude of films that do not meet the criteria, Bechdel has exponentially raised awareness of misrepresentation of women in the movies.

Sarah Polley (THIRTEEN / Victoria Malabrigo)

Sarah Polley managed to parlay her accomplishments as a child actress into a wildly successful career as a writer and director. After winning an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Away From Her, she bravely turned the camera on herself to tell the story of her search for her own biological father in her documentary Stories We Tell.

MAKERS: WOMEN IN FILM airs Tuesday, October 7 at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN, and October 10 at 6 p.m. on WLIW WORLD.
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