Chapman of “Brave” Speaks Out
According to Entertainment Weekly, director Brenda Chapman of Brave has finally released a statement in an attempt to clarify the situation concerning the credited director of the film.
When Pixar’s Brave arrived in theaters in June, two directors shared full credit for the film: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman. The project had originated with Chapman — who’d previously directed DreamWorks Animation’s The Prince of Egypt — but at the beginning of 2011, the studio took the reins from her completely and handed them to Andrews, who’d worked on The Incredibles and Ratatouille.
Though the business of DreamWorks Animation and Pixar falls outside of the independent scope, the issue this raises about gender roles within the film industry as a whole is worth discussing given this unique situation. Chapman is obviously inclined to defend herself but after watching Brave it is clear her argument has a great deal of merit. Brave exhumes a heartfelt message that seems so inherently to have originated from either a mother or daughter figure that Chapman’s claim to this film as a strong portrayal of her personally falls on everything BUT deaf ears.
In an essay for a larger New York Times feature about women’s perpetual underrepresentation in all corners of Hollywood, Chapman wrote that the past year and a half had been “a heartbreakingly hard road” for her. “When Pixar took me off of Brave — a story that came from my heart, inspired by my relationship with my daughter — it was devastating,” she writes. “Animation directors are not protected like live-action directors, who have the Directors Guild to go to battle for them,” she writes. “We are replaced on a regular basis — and that was a real issue for me. This was a story that I created, which came from a very personal place, as a woman and a mother. To have it taken away and given to someone else, and a man at that, was truly distressing on so many levels.”
The concern with Chapman’s story is the disparity of female representation in positions of power within the film industry that rings very true both internationally and domestically. Though there are exceptions to this rule, film festivals like Cannes and other major entities have dealt with a lack of female presence that is becoming a more outspoken subject. We expect that the film industry will continually converse on this subject and look to work toward a solution, with stories like this leading the way to change.