‘The Adderall Diaries’ Director Pamela Romanowsky Opens Up About The Very Real Hardships Of Being A Female Director
Hollywood needs a wake-up call. If the major #OscarsSoWhite controversy and Patricia Arquette’s wage gap initiatives haven’t made that blatantly obvious, I’m not quite sure what will. But still, the shake-up we need is happening at a glacial pace, and there are women out there who are living proof of the unfortunate statistics that prove white men continue to dominate Tinseltown. James Franco’s good friend and his Adderall Diaries colleague Pamela Romanowsky doesn’t sugarcoat the obstacles she continues to face as a female director striving to climb her way up the ladder amidst all of the bias and BS politics.
Romanowsky fearlessly brought a story — originally written by a man (Stephen Elliot) about his tumultuous relationship with his father — to life. With a male-dominated cast, by the way. Still, directing and writing The Adderall Diaries for the big screen wasn’t the least bit intimidating for Romanowsky, as it shouldn’t have been. “I think it’s a little bit insulting that [people think] women can only make women’s pictures,” she says. “That leaves the adjudication that if there’s a female director, it’s going to be a female story. It’s not true. Directing a father-son story does not require me to be a father or a son. It just requires me to be a good director. To be human and compassionate. People are capable of relating to and telling all kinds of stories.”
She makes an excellent point, and women like Romanowsky who take on projects such as this help chisel at the constraining walls, even if it is little by little. “I certainly want to tell stories about men and women. Women directors are no longer limited to romantic comedies or women stories on the Lifetime channel.”
This rings exciting and true, but unfortunately, the numbers are still so unfortunate. Last year, studies found that female directors made up only 7% of Hollywood’s top 250 films. In addition, women compromised 28% of short film directors at film festivals from 2010-2014, but faced a major “fiscal cliff” afterwards, whereas male opportunities only grew. What’s crazy is how Romanowsky’s real-life experience mirrors those numbers:
Female directors certainly are scrutinized more. The big difference is that of women who have made great first films, Indie films, that play at great festivals, win great awards, [are] the women don’t get big studio movies right after in the way that men do. That is not open to women. So much has to do with unconscience bias. It’s not [coincidence].
While breathing life into a story written by a man and about men didn’t necessarily “open [Romanowsky] up to more scrutiny,” she’s well-aware of the road blocks that lie ahead. “I certainly feel the closed doors. I know that they’re there. I just haven’t gotten to them yet. The calls from studios are not pouring in,” she says. “I know that’s going to be the case.”
As most of us, though, she acknowledges the strides we have made and is hopeful for change. “I think it’s great there’s enormous pressure on studios and gatekeepers… to have a reality check. This is not OK, this is really antiquated, backwards thinking. Gender has nothing to do with the job.”
Thus, she keeps trucking, breaking the barricades for herself and all of us women, refusing to let discouragement become part of her vocabulary. While riding the wave of The Adderall Diaries release, she’s still hustling and making that hope a reality.
“I’m working on one of my dream projects now," she says. And that's inspiring.