An Actress's Thoughts

Crimes from a Male Perspective

TV-Crimes from the Male Perspective

Last summer I had done an evaluation of German top cop drama TATORT, all first screenings from 2011 to the summer of 2018, I looked at six departments off-screen – directing, script. DoP, sound, music and editing – and onscreed at the first-named roles and the main casts (Who‘s to be seen in CRIME SCREEN?).
Today I have some additional statistics with the complete 2018 TATORTs, a total of 37, and some research regarding the female and male directors, like e.g. their age at their TATORT debuts and the number of TATORTs each has directed.

20 % Female Directors, how great is that?

It is nothing new to state that there are considerably fewer films directed by women than by men, and at the same time considerably fewer than the share of women among the directing graduates from film school (44 %), and also less than is their share among those active (reference: database of crew united, share of female directors is 25,3 %). This is something I have been researching and writing about since January 2013 (SchspIN – an Actress‘s Thoughts), Pro Quote Regie (Pro Quota Directing) first went public in October 2014, calling for a graded female quota for their department as well as calling for „scientific research into the development and professional situation of female directors in Germany as well as into the practise of commissioning contracts by broadcasting companies and funding bodies“, and the 94 page First Repofgerrt on Diversity by the German directing association BVR „on the share of female directors for the film and tv productions between 2010 and 2013“, published in November 2014.

Maybe a bit on the slow side is the way in which broadcasters, production companies and commissioners are reacting to this, sometimes you hear statements on a target of 20 % female directors, sometimes a lot more is achieved. And how is it with the TATORTs?

In 2018 a total of 30 TATORTs were directed by men, and 7 by women. This is a share of 18,9 % – so quite close to the often proclaimed 20 %. In the summer of 2018 the number was 19 %, so no big change in the second half of the year.
To go into greater detail, it were actually 6 female directors for the 7 TATORTs: Samira Radsi, who at 50 directed her first and her second TATORT last year, Theresa von Eitz (40) also debuted. Barbara Eder directed her second TATORT, she debuted at 41 the year before. Christine Hartmann was in charge of her 7th, her first was in 2002 when she was 34. Hermine Huntgeburth on the other hand had her TATORT debut only in 2016, 59 years old, in 2018 she directed her second, and finally there is Maris Pfeifer who directed her fourth in 2018, her debut was in 2006 when she was 46.
The average ages at which female and male directors are given their first TATORT are not far from each other, as can be seen in the following table on the left. Only the range differs, for the men it‘s from 30 (Lars Kraume in 2003) to 68 (Robert Dornheim in 2015), for the women from 33 (Katrin Gebbe in 2016) to 59 (Hermine Huntgeburth in 2016).
A big difference occurs in another context, and that is when the average number of TATORTs per male or female directors are compared. The table on the right show this, both for all directors and also for the statistics when the highest values are substracted (Claudia Garde with 11 and Kaspar Heidelbach with 20 TATORTs). On average the men directed 2 TATORTs more than the women.

A total of 17 female and 70 male directors directed TATORTs from 2011 to 2018.

… and what about Script, DoP, Sound, Music, Editing?

To start with a high number: the share of female editors is unproportionally high with figures between 50 and 70 %. What is interested is to compare these with the female editors of the top grossing 50 German feature films of 2013 to 2017, their share is quite low, between 20 and 30 %. But this is a topic for another day.
To see low shares of women it is enough to look at the following figure, especially for 2018 – the year that female directors nearly touched the 20 % mark is deplorable with 5,5 % of female writers, 0 % of female DoP and 0 % of female sound mixers.

Which crimes occur, how the stories are told and how they are visualized, all this is quite firmly in male hands. (Please also refer to my text 19 ideas for film / tv / stage, especially to the chapter #femicide-detox.
Since I don‘t want to implicate that the ARD (German public broadcaster) are determined to leave all TATORT narratives and images completely to men, or even more active, to consciously exclude women there is only room for the somewhat unsatisfactory assumption that simply nobody noticed this. This might be advantaged by the fact that in the TATORT series, a number of regional broadcasters and different production companies are involved and perhaps nobody saw the overall picture. Well, this can‘t be the case anymore from now on, because the last figure sends a clear message.

We promise to improve!

Admittedly, so far nobody has said this, but if they did that would commendable and also easy to start. Pledge to apply my suggestion „2 of 6 plus NEROPA“ #2v6pN. In other words: in every production, at least two of the six departments directing, script, cinematography, sound, music and editing should be headed by a woman (and also the NEROPA method should be applied, more on this later).
I have mentioned in the past that I see some difficulties that need to be overcome, when funding bodies, broadcasters, commissioners or others should work with more than one female quota in film teams. As far as I know there are no models that integrate quotas. Furthermore, each production is released from their responsibility, because – in accordance with the not-in-my-backyard-principle – they can hope that some other production will hire a female director, DoP or composer, and that way balance their own all-male team positions.

With #2v6pN it‘s a different matter because there each production has to do something, each production has to comply with the „at least 2 departments“obligation if they want public money or work for public television. Which two (or more) of the six departments are to be headed by women is up to the production itself. And if someone simply only want to give the six departments to men – or as happened in the case of BABYLON give 5 1/3 of the six departments to men – then of course they can do that. But not with public money.

The following three diagrams show

  • On the left: the number of TATORTs 2011-18 where 0 to 6 from the six departments had a woman at the top. The vertical line separates the one who passed (to the right) from those TATORT productions that didn‘t (to the left).
  • In the middle: to make the discrepancy more visible we see the shares of films for each year that would have passed or surpassed the 2 of 6-requirement (in the future, after #2v6pN has been made compulsory, all colums should be 100 % of course).
  • On the right: the table, only for 2018, shows how many, or rather how few, directors – female and male – had one (other) or more woman working in the.five positions.

Who hires the people for the departments, does the director have no say in this, or does it depend on their reputation or c.v.? Samira Radsi and Barbara Eder directed their three 2018 TATORTs with the five other positions being men-only. Both are newcomers in this format, is their a connection or was it their active choice?

Two questions I get asked regularly when I talk about #2v6pN:

  • “Are there really enough female directors, female scriptwriters, female DoP, female sound mixers, female composers and female editors to fill two positions in each production?”
    Answer: Yes.
  • “Why do you only call for 2 of 6 and not 3 of 6, which would be 50 %?”
    Answer: Not the same numbers of women and men are trained over all these six film professions, so a third would conform with the ratio. Therefore saying that #2v6pN favours women is untrue, it‘s just a way to help them to creative equality (and at the same time improve film quality, because if 40 % of the talent pool are ignored…..)

More female Superintendents, but still male biased casts

In June 2018 when I was writing about the TATORTs I already predicted that the share of female first roles on the cast list, which was more than 50 % in the summer of 2018, would decrease in the second half, because many of the TATORTs from the first half-year period had a lot of female coppers in the centre. And indeed, the overall share for 2018 is only 43,2 % female leads / first roles (see the next diagram). The darker blue columns, depicting the share of women for the main casts don‘t vary that much (approx. 39 %), and until someone proves otherwise I continue to aussume that the rest of the casts, with all those small, nameless parts, is even more male biased.

Apparently a focus on the leads does not do much for the whole situation. But of course, if my method NEROPA were applied (as is proposed in #2v6pN – remember, that‘s „two of six plus NEROPA“), there would be more roles for women in most scripts, even for the TATORTs. (To find out more about the method and how it works please refer to the official NEROPA website or call me, I am happy to consult and coach your production during the process).


If things continue at this rate, how long will it take for the share of female directors to reach 44 or even 50 %? And how long, until more women are introduced to other central departments of a film team and until film casts are gender equal? I don‘t know. But I am afraid it will be quite a long while. That is why I propose the implementation of “two of six plus NEROPA“ in all film and television productions fully or partly financed with public money.
Maybe you think that the producers would refuse to go along. Are you sure? What if they don‘t get the TV slot or funding without it, would they do it then?
Are there enough female screenwriters in the first place? Yes. Are there enough female DoPs? Yes. Are there enough female directors? Yes. Are there enough female editors? Yes, of course. Are there enough female sound mixers and composers? Certainly more than zero. And also, there don‘t need to be women in all six positions in every production. But then again, that might be interesting, considering that  opposite – all six departments men only – happened 63 (sixty-three) times in TATORTs from 2011 to 2018. So how about reversing this all women only?