It’s difficult to measure the impact of Doran’s influence on Hollywood; her last official film credit was Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang in 2010, and her work extends to teaching alongside her consultancy work with studios and filmmakers. However Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, whose collective writing and directorial work ranges from 21 Jump Street (2012) to The Lego Movie and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, have worked with Doran extensively on perfecting their winning brand of silliness and sincerity. Meanwhile Terry Rossio, a writer for Shrek, Aladdin and the Pirates of the Caribbean film, described her to the New York Times as a “Pied Piper, leading all those ratty, bleak and violent screenplays in town over a cliff.”
The landscape for credited female representation has begun to shift in the wake of movements such as #MeToo and Time’s Up and a call for the hiring of more women writers, as well as directors and crew members, more generally.
Studios are now slowly making the changes to diversify, and credited female screenwriters are being brought in for larger projects, such as Nicole Holofcener, who was hired specifically to write the female perspective in Ridley Scott’s upcoming period epic The Last Duel, while longstanding collaborators Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote the rest of the screenplay.
For some however, these changes are not enough. The move to bring Phoebe Waller-Bridge in at a later stage in the screenwriting process for No Time To Die for example, raises questions as to why she hadn’t been included on the project from the start.
“While I am happy to see such a talented scriptwriter like Waller-Bridge join the team, I find it frustrating that she was brought in so late into the process to ‘spot shot’ and ‘treat’ various sections of the script that required development and enlivening,” says Funnell. “Diversity in scriptwriting requires the full participation of creative personnel from the outset of the project including the conceptualisation and development of characters and storylines.”
The gendered responsibilities bestowed upon female writers also can present restrictions on how they are able to contribute to films. “We shouldn’t just be pigeonholing women writers as women writers,” says Germana. “We want them because they are very good writers, not because we need to tick a box. Waller-Bridge deserves to be there because she’s a brilliant writer.” Gratifyingly, in that respect, Waller-Bridge has made clear her gender was not a factor in her hiring for the film. “The reality was I got a call from Barbara [Broccoli, the film’s producer] and Daniel saying, ‘We like your work, can you come in and help us?’. There wasn’t ever really a conversation about can you come in and help us with ‘the ladies’,” she told the BBC.
Nevertheless, the significance of her involvement in Bond should not be underestimated; her role as one of the new faces of an inherently masculine franchise is both a boon and a reminder that there is still a lot of work in Hollywood to be done when it comes to giving female screenwriters the opportunities, and credit, that they deserve.
No Time To Die is released in the UK on 30 September and in the US on 8 October
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