The Incredible Women of Hollywood Who Broke Barriers Behind the Camera

While the statistics aren't great for women in the film industry (only 5 percent of cinematographers are women), these ladies are broke barriers and pursued their dreams behind the camera. From writing and directing, to operating the camera and lights and managing sound equipment, these female filmmakers have been shaking up Hollywood for more than 100 years, and have no intention of slowing down.

1. Geraldine Brianne Murphy "” Cinematographer

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Geraldine Brianne Murphy was the first female member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), a feat that was not achieved until 1980 (yes, you read that correctly). At the time, Murphy was also the first-ever female director of photography for a major studio picture, Fatso. As of 2014, there were only 11 women in the ASC out of the more than 330 active members. 

Murphy died in 2003. 

2. Sarah Gavron "” Director

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Sarah Gavron is a British director and filmmaker who, like many on this list, got her start in documentary filmmaking. However, her 2007 feature film debut Brick Lane put the young director on the international map. The film poignantly explores the life of a young Bangladeshi woman who enters into an unhappy, arranged marriage in London during the 1980s. More recently, Gavron directed Suffragette, a film centering on the women's suffragette movement during the 1920s in London. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep and received favorable reviews.

3. Rita Lundin "” Teamster Driver

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Drivers who haul equipment and cameras to and from a film production set while moving and maintaining crew and star trailers and setting up generators are called Teamsters, and are traditionally men. However, Rita Lundin has never let that stop her. Unfortunately, she told Variety that other Teamsters have not always responded well to working alongside a female Teamster. Lundin has driven on blockbusters like Iron Man and The Hangover and finds that she works harder than her male counterparts just to prove herself.

4. Anna Behlmer "” Sound Mixer

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With 10 nominations for her work, Anna Behlmer was the first woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for the best sound mixing category in 1995. Yes, 1995. With sound credits on over 140 films including Braveheart, Star Trek, World War Z, Shrek and Blood Diamond, Behlmer (on the right) is one of the best in the business.

5. Dody Dorn "” Editing

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Dody Dorn has worked as an editor on films like Fury, Matchstick Men and Christopher Nolan's Memento, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Editing. With experience as a film editor, Foley and dialogue editor, Dorn is known for her comprehensive mastery of sound and picture.

6. Karyn Kusama "” Director and Writer

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Karyn Kusama is known for tackling genre films and projects that vary in scope from horror and thriller to futuristic sci-fi and dramatic contemporary pieces. Her first film, Girlfight, was directed and written by Kusama at the ripe age of 27. Released in 2000, the film put her work on the map, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, as well as the Prix de la Jeunesse at Cannes. Since then, Kusama has worked on female-driven stories and concepts manifesting in films Aeon Flux, Jennifer's Body and The Invitation.

7. Dorothea Holt Redmond "” Production Designer

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Dorothea Holt Redmond created this sketch for Alfred Hitchcock's 1943 film Shadow of a Doubt, as well as contributing to several more classic Hitchcock films including Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. Redmond has long been credited with helping Hitchcock to master the German Expressionist aesthetic in his films. Known as the first female production designer, Redmond joined the boys' club in 1938 and never slowed down. The gifted illustrator and production designer worked on over 30 films and eventually joined the Walt Disney Imagineering team, where she helped create iconic elements of both Disneyland and Disney World. 

8. Maryse Alberti "” Cinematographer

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Maryse Alberti is a French cinematographer who works on a variety of independent films, documentaries and blockbusters. Alberti got her start working on short films and documentaries before shooting H-2 Worker in 1990, for which she won her first Sundance Film Festival award for excellence in cinematography. In recent years, Alberti worked on Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler and more recently, Creed, bringing the look and style of an indie film to the big screen. Alberti is the first woman to be featured on the cover of American Cinematographer.

9. Dorothy Arzner "” Director, Editor, Screenwriter

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Known as one of the pinoeers of early filmmaking, Dorothy Arzner was a filmmaker, director, editor and screenwriter between 1922 and 1943. Arzner was the only female filmmaker to transition from silent film to the talkies, and has a larger body of work than any female director since. It's even rumored that Arzner invented the boom mic by rigging a microphone to a fishing pole, just one of her many immense contributions to the film industry.

10. Verna Fields "” Film Editor

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One of the first female film editors, Verna Fields, won an Oscar as well as the American Cinema Editors' Eddie Award in 1976 for her work on Steven Spielberg's Jaws. Jaws was listed as one of the top best edited films of all times as chosen by the Motion Picture Editors Guild.

11. Ava DuVernay "” Director and Distributor

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The first African-American female director to receive a Golden Globe nomination, Ava DuVernay directed Selma, a film which explores Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s fight for equality and voting rights. Before she was a critically-acclaimed director, DuVernay championed for African-American audiences by founding the DuVernay Agency and working in film publicity to secure a better variety of stories told on film. She also co-founded the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, a company focused on distributing and releasing black indie movies.

She's even been made into a Barbie doll!

12. Andrea Sachs "” Gaffer

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Andrea Sachs is the head of lighting, or gaffer, on major productions, working on everything from music videos to commercials and advertising. With only 74 women out of 2470 members belonging to the Hollywood set lighting union, or IATSE 728, Sachs is more than a little outnumbered in the lighting game. Sachs has been working in production since 1990 and has credits on everything from documentaries to television shows and commercial work.

13. So Yong Kim "” Director

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So Yong Kim is a Korean-American independent filmmaker and director who received the Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival for In Between Days in 2006. The film explores the experience of a teenage immigrant navigating a new country and new love. So Yong Kim and her partner Bradley Rust Gray have made four feature films together, all of which have received numerous awards and praise. The forthcoming Lovesong, starring Jena Malone and Riley Keough, promises to be a Sundance favorite in 2016.

14. Nancy Schreiber "” Cinematographer

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Nancy Schreiber started her journey into the production world working as an electrician and gaffer in New York City before shooting her own short films. Growing into a highly respected cinematographer, Schreiber became the fourth female to join the American Society of Cinematographers over a decade ago. Working on features, documentaries, indie films and plenty of music videos, Schreiber is highly regarded in the industry and has won various honors and awards for her contributions, including the Kodak Vision Award at the Women in Film Crystal Awards and the 2011 Athena Award in New York City.

15. Marielle Heller "” Writer, Director, Actor

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Writer, director and actor, Marielle Heller, is best known for her breakout adaptation of the Phoebe Gloeckner graphic novel by the same name, The Diary of a Teenage Girl. The film explores the unapologetic sexuality of a teenager living in San Fransisco during the 1970s. The honest and controversial portrayal of a young woman's budding sexuality made an important stride in storytelling about women; providing screen time for the joys of young sexuality, rather than the Puritanical tsk-tsk of traditional media.