Many brilliant female directors are making waves in the film industry these days. From Greta Gerwig to Chloé Zhao, women are finally getting some of the recognition they deserve as big film directors.
Do you know who the first female film director was?
Her name was Alice Guy-Blaché, and she was a French filmmaker and pioneer.
Alice was born in Paris, France, in 1873. Alice was trained as a typist and stenographer and began working as a teenager to help support her family after her father’s death.
She was hired as a secretary to photographer and film producer Léon Gaumont in 1894. Léon established the Gaumont Company, the world’s oldest film company. As Alice worked for Léon and the company, she learned all about cameras and film.
Alice witnessed the Lumiere brothers making short films with their Cinématographe motion picture system and attended their first demonstration of film projection in 1895. She was inspired by the screening and wanted to create her own film.
Alice wanted to create a film with an enticing plot that had characters and a storyline. So in 1896, when she was only 23-years-old, she created and directed her first film, La Fée aux Choux (“The Cabbage Fairy”). It was filmed on the back patio of Léon’s studio and followed a funny tale of a woman who could magically grow children out of a cabbage garden.
La Fée aux Choux was a historical film as it is not only considered the world’s first narrative film but the first film directed by a woman.
Alice’s career grew from there, as she became the Gaumont Company’s head of production from 1896 to 1906. At first, she directed and worked on short films. Later, she worked on longer and more extensive film projects, like Esmeralda in 1905.