Source Abstracts

I am studying the presence of women in the film editing industry because I want to find out how women are under represented in the industry in order to challenge my readers to recognize the negative repercussions of a male dominated Hollywood. 

Research and Reliable Sources

Source #1

“Study Finds Fewer Female Protagonists in Top Hollywood Films”

Source #2

“How Critics Have Failed Female Filmmakers”

Source #3

“Lights, Camera, Taking Action”


  • Source #1 focuses more on actresses in the film industry while sources #2 and #3 focus on female filmmakers.
  • Source #2 and Source #3 talk about about the Academy Awards while Source #1 does not.
  • Source #2 talks a lot about the history of women in filmmaking while Source #1 and #3 focus on current events.
  • Source #2 was written by a man while the other sources were written by women.
  • Source #3 was written by a film critic for the New York Times.
  • Source #3 discussed race as well as gender.
  • Source #2 mentions source #3.

Google Scholar

Source #4

“The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film”

Ondaatje, M., & Murch, W. (2002). The conversations: Walter Murch and the art of      editing film. Toronto: Vintage Canada.

  • In films early, silent days many of the editors were women. Editing was seen as a women’s craft and often compared to sewing or being a librarian.
  • Men began dominating the film editing industry in 1927
  • When sound was introduced men started coming into editing. Sound was seen as a man’s job and compared to engineering.

Source #4 is a better source because the information comes directly from Walter Murch, a very famous film editor and sound mixer who edited Apocalypse Now and The Godfather Part I, II and II.

 Source Abstract #1

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing [Motion picture on DVD]. (2004).             Distributed by Warner Home Video.

Source Type: Substantive


In Wendy Apple’s documentary, “The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing” dozens of filmmakers discus the art of film editing. The film includes exclusive interviews with Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Thelma Schoonmaker, Walter Murch and many more. Since this is such a collaborative film, the main claim differs throughout the documentary. There are however, some very important claims made about women and film editing. In addition, the documentary outlines the significance of the editor in the filmmaking process. The numerous filmmakers discuss the editing process and the role the editor plays in being the auteur of the film.


The researcher, who I would consider the director of the documentary, collected many perspectives on the topic. Apple conducted interviews with various established directors and editors to make her argument. The director, by definition, adds their own perspective to the documentary since they are the sanctioned auteur. The director’s argument was that film editors are crucial to the filmmaking process. The sources used were reliable considering the information came directly from esteemed filmmakers.


My reaction to this film was powerful. This documentary does an amazing job of describing the difficult and long drawn out process of film editing. The majority of the film consuming population has no idea that 80% of the film is constructed in post-production. Many filmmakers believe the editor contribute just as much to the film as the director does. This source develops ideas from my earlier sources because it delves into precise details of the film editing process while my earlier sources merely mention it.

When I was doing my first movie the only thing I knew is, I wanted a female editor, because I just felt a female editor would be more nurturing to the movie and to me. They wouldn’t try to be winning their way just to win their way, all right? They wouldn’t be trying to shove their agenda or win their battles with me. They would be nurturing me through this process. – Quentin Tarantino

This quote makes me think about the many advantages of having a female editor versus a male editor.

Source Abstract #2

Ondaatje, M., & Murch, W. (2002). First Conversation. In The conversations:                  Walter Murch and the art of editing film. Toronto: Vintage Canada.

Source Type: Scholarly


This book is written in a rather strange format. The book is a direct record of a conversation between Walter Murch, editor of Apocalypse Now and The Godfather movies, and Michael Ondaatje. The book doesn’t make a claim as much as it looks at filmmaking from a new perspective: the editor’s. Ondaatje and Murch discuss the history of film editing, influential film editors and the practice of editing film. Together, Ondaatje and Murch find that editing is crucial to filmmaking.


The methodology here is very straightforward. The researcher, Ondaatje, simply had a series of five conversations with Murch and recorded the dialogue. This information is directly from a reliable source. Murch is an esteemed editor and sound mixer, famous for his work on Apocalypse Now and The Godfather movies. This book is directly from the perspective of Murch with influence on the topic of discussion from Ondaatje. The researcher’s overwhelming argument is that editing is imperative to filmmaking.


My reaction to this book was genuine interest. The book discusses a lot about the history of film editing and the transformations the equipment, as well as the technique, went through. The evolution of film editing is strange in that it differs from all other forms of art. It is essentially creation through destruction. This source developed claims from my earlier sources by delving into the specific details of the editing process. Munch describes his own editing process in excruciating detail. However, a few pieces of information overlap my earlier source from Apple – Walter Murch is interviewed in the documentary. The book, however, is solely directed at Murch and allows him to go more in depth.

In fact, many of the editors of early films – back in the silent days – were women. It was a women’s craft, seen as something like sewing. You knitted the pieces of film together. And editing has aspects of being a librarian, which used to be perceived as a women’s job. – Walter Murch

This quote makes me wonder why all of the women abandoned the film editing field.

Source Abstract #3

Sailer, Steve. “Women and Film Editing.” Web log post. : Women and Film Editing.       iSteve, 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

Source Type: Primary


Steve Sailer is a journalist, a movie critic for The American Conservative and a blogger. iSteve, Sailer’s blog, discusses gender, race, immigration, politics, movies and sports. This specific blog post talks about the decline of female film editors. He specifically mentions the decrease of women nominated for the Academy Awards. In this post he discuses the life of Thelma Schoonmaker, 3 time Oscar winner, and quotes her. Sailer also talks about the long-term director/editor relationship between Scorses and Schoonmaker. His main claim is essentially, “behind every great man is a great woman.”


Since this is a blog post, the article is a first person opinion on the subject. However, Sailer uses reliable statistics to back up his argument – he cites his sources within the blog post. The blog post talks a lot about the history of Schoonmaker’s career. This information is unbiased. He acquires a lot of this information from the Internet Movie Database (


I was really surprised to find this source. This is the first source I have been able to find that connects the Academy Awards and the lack of female film editors being nominated. Many of Sailer’s viewpoints seemed to be directly in line with mine. This source develops a lot of what Schoonmaker discuses in “Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing.”

The percentage of women nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing has declined from 21% in the 1930s to 15% during the last ten years. – Steve Sailer

This statistic helps to reaffirm my suspicions that fewer and fewer female editors are being nominated for Oscars.

Source Abstract #4

Dargis, M. (2015, January 21). Lights, Camera, Taking Action. The New York                Times. Retrieved February 23, 2015.

Source Type: Substantive


The chief film critic for the New York Times, Manohla Dargis, claims, in her article, “Lights, Camera, Taking Action,” that women are completely under-represented in the film industry. She discusses the lack of female Oscar nominees as well as the lack of female protagonists in current films. Her focus is primarily on the absence of female directors but she talks about the lack of females in the whole industry too. Dargis’ final claim is that women are beginning to dominate the workforce and eventually will dominate the film industry.


This article is mainly comprised of Dargis’ opinions, however, she uses research to support her argument. Dargis cites statistics of representation of women in the Academy Awards, the Director’s Guild, and more. She also directly quotes a few famous female directors. There was no study done, but Dargis just make an argument in this article. She argues that females are under-represented and that the film industry needs to reform.


This article really developed on my previous sources because it discussed the lack of females in the whole film industry, not just in the field of film editing. The article makes it obvious that men dominate the entire film industry. Dargis is a very credible source since she is the chief film critic for the New York Times. This article made me think differently about the film industry and answered questions as to why women aren’t prevalent in it.

The problem is the six major studios that dominate the box office, the entertainment chatter and the popular imagination. Their refusal to hire more female directors is immoral, maybe illegal, and has helped create and sustain a representational ghetto for women. –Dargis

This quote helps me understand why more women aren’t being hired and makes me want to research these six major Hollywood studios.

Source Abstract #5

Bette Davis. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2015.

Source Type: Scholarly


This is a detailed biography and filmography of Bette Davis, the first female president of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This source is completely objective and does not make any claims but contains a lot of important information. The biography describes Davis’ many triumphs as a female actress in a male dominated industry. Her filmography includes 123 credits. She has won two Oscars and had eleven Oscar nominations. She is often nicknamed “The Fifth Warner Brother” or “The First Lady of Film.” Her tombstone reads: “She did it the hard way.”


This source was obtained from the Internet Movie Database ( where users can submit content – submitted content must be reviewed and approved by Therefore, this source is a collection of information from many different authors. There is no argument made but simply objective information displayed for interpretation.


Bette Davis is one of three presidents of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I was very curious as to why Bette Davis resigned after only two months and this source provided an answer (see quote.) This source differs from my earlier sources because it is a biography instead of a subjective article.

She was elected as the first female president of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in October 1941. She resigned less than two months later, publicly declaring herself too busy to fulfill her duties as president while angrily protesting in private that the Academy had wanted her to serve as a mere figurehead.     –

This quote explains a lot about the dynamics of the Academy and explains why Selma did not receive a nomination for Best Director even though the current president is a female.

 Source Abstract #6

Kaplan, E. (1983). Part I. In Women & Film (pp. 1-25). New York, New York:                      Routledge.

Source Type: Scholarly


This book aims to discuss feminist film theory as well as expand on the implication of women in film. Instead of merely summarizing feminist film theory, Kaplan discuses the dangers and limitations as well as the contribution of feminist film. She introduces a concept referred to as the “male gaze.” She defines male gaze as dominating and repressing women through its controlling power of female discourse and female desire. Her overreaching claim is that the problems within the production, exhibition and distribution of independent female films are to blame for the lack of female filmmakers. She not only examines the causes of these problems but discusses possible solutions and ways to challenge the male dominance in filmmaking.


In the preface, Kaplan talks about her implications for writing, “Women & Film.” Kaplan taught a course about women and film for 10 years before beginning this novel. She also discusses the large volume of various research she put into preparing for and crafting, “Women & Film.” The book is comprised with critically acclaimed feminist film theories as well as her own interpretations of the implications of women in film.


I was really glad I found this source because it references many films that have strong feministic messages. It’s also helpful that this book was written through the perspective of a woman. When reading Part I, I also discovered a lot of new terminology that will be helpful to further my research. Not only does this book summarize feminist film theory, it goes further than that and discusses the implications of this theory and references the films behind the theory.

In Hollywood films, then, women are ultimately refused a voice, a discourse, and their desire is subjected to male desire. – E. Ann Kaplan

Here, Kaplan comments on the significant contrast between the way women are sexualized more in Hollywood films versus European films.

Source Abstract #7

Hatch, K. (2013, September 27). Cutting Women: Margaret Booth and                             Hollywood’s Pioneering Female Film Editors. Retrieved February 28, 2015.

Source Type: Substantive


This article discusses the history of women as film editors in the era before sound was introduced. Hatch claims that women dominated the cutting industry in 1927 and then vanished around the 1940s. In the article, Hatch talks about various female film editors and the influence their work had on current film editing technique. Hatch claims not only that women used to dominate the editing industry but also that their influence extends beyond their short period of dominance.


Hatch compiles a lot of historical research into her article. She talks about the history of women and film editing and then adds her own opinion about the implications of their early contributions. Her bibliography is extensive and it is obvious that the article is a reliable and credible source.


This article helped fill in the blanks regarding historical information on the role women used to play in the film editing industry. Hatch’s extensive bibliography was also very helpful and the source of my bibliographic source abstract. This source overlaps with sources #1 and #2 regarding the role of women in editing before the development of sound – all three sources discuss the introduction of sound and cite it as one of the reasons female film editors vanished.

In 1926, the Los Angeles Times informed readers that “one of the most important positions in the motion-picture industry is held almost entirely by women” whose job it was to assemble “thousands of feet of film so that it tells an interesting story in the most straightforward manner.            -Kristen Hatch

This quote reinforces the notion that women used to be prevalent in the editing industry as well as describing the duties of a film editor.

Source Abstract #8

Schwartzapfel, B. (2007, Summer). From Harlem to Hollywood. Ms, 17, 14.

Source Type: Scholarly


This article talks about an up and coming film program started by Chica Luna Productions. Chica Luna Productions is a media justice organization in Harlem. This film program is called F-Word program and the F stands for feminist. The program lasts for one-year trains young African American women (ages 16-25) how to be socially conscious filmmakers.


The F-Word program began in 2001 and was intended to recruit more female African Americans into the film industry. The program is starting to get a lot of recognition from Hollywood. Not only do the students study production, screenwriting, directing, editing, cinematography and lighting but they are also taught how to recognize racist, sexist and homophobic undertones in films.


I am really surprised but glad that this program exists. I had no idea there was a film school specifically for females. It seems like a great way to encourage more females to enter into the industry. Although, I am surprised this program is only a year long. This source develops a lot from my previous sources because it discusses race and the lack of African American filmmakers as well as female filmmakers and joins these two together.

They grapple with questions such as ‘How do you light this well for people of color so they all don’t look like shadows?’ -Schwartzapfel

The cinema program at VCU does not have many African American students and we have never discussed how to light for people with darker skin, so I found this very interesting and powerful.


Source Abstract #9

Reynolds, S. (1998). The face on the cutting-room floor: women editors in the             French cinema of the 1930s. Labour History Review (Maney Publishing), 63(1),         66-82.

Source Type: Scholarly Secondary Source


In this article, Sian Reynolds discusses the role of female film editors in French cinema. Unlike Hollywood, in France there are far more female editors. Reynolds claims this is due to many factors such as the fact that editing can be compared to sewing, typing or being a midwife. He also claims that women were able to obtain these positions because, in early French cinema, editor did not always receive credit and was seen as a somewhat insignificant job – this allowed women to work as film editors because at that time editing did not have specific schooling requirements and women could learn how to edit from working as scriptès or assistant editors. Reynolds overreaching argument is that females played a large role in editing French films from the 1930s and on but have not received concrete credit for their contributions.


In order to gather his information, Reynolds analyzed the credits from many French films from the 1930s as well as other time periods to see how many editors were female or male. Surprisingly, he found that often, in early French cinema, editors did not receive credits. Although, he did find that women edited a large number of classic French films. Reynolds also researched specific French filmmakers such as Alice Guy and quotes them often throughout the article.


I am very surprised to discover how different foreign cinema is from Hollywood. I knew that female film editors were more prevalent in foreign cinema but I had no idea that female film editors now dominate the French cinema. As Reynolds claims in this article, the job of film editing is more suited to feminine traits. This is why it is outrageous that Hollywood is completely void of female editors.

It has to be faced that there is a conventional wisdom that editing is a `feminine function’, summed up in Jean-Luc Godard’s dictum `tourner est masculin, monter feminin’ (shooting is masculine, editing is feminine) –Reynolds

Jean-Luc Godard is a very famous foreign filmmaker – he recognizes editing as ‘feminine’ so why is Hollywood so unwilling to allow females to edit?

 Source Abstract #10

Scheuer, Philip K. “Lady Film Cutters: A Vanishing Profession.” Los Angeles                    Times (21 April 1940): C3. (Anne Bauchens, Blanche Sewell, Viola Lawrence)

Source Type: Bibliographic


In this article, Scheuer claims it is becoming increasingly difficult for lady film cutters to increase their rank as more men enter the field. He claims the reason most film cutters nowadays are male is because it takes roughly 7 years of apprenticeship to become a film cutter. He says that because this is, “an exacting task” that women aren’t likely to complete it.


Scheuer discusses the successful careers of many female film cutters – he mentions Viola Lawrence, Margaret Booth, Mildred Rich and many more. He recognizes all of these iconic names and points out that they are the last of their kind. As more men move into editing field, more women are subsequently moved out.


This article was very helpful because it was written in 1940 – around the exact time that the invention of sound transformed the gender biased surrounding film editing. This develops from Source Abstract #7 since it came from its bibliography. It pinpoints the exact cause of the fall of female film editors because it was written while it was happening. The gender biased of the male author is even visible within in the text.

Women cutters are resented by their male coworkers. At any rate, you aren’t likely to see their ranks increase as time goes on. -Scheuer

This quote provides a reason as to why lady film cutters are vanishing and that reason is male ego in the workplace.

1 Comment

  1. RESPONSE should include comparison to previous findings / studies you’ve read. Otherwise, good abstract work!

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