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Ava DuVernay: With Netflix, 'I have a choice'

The director spoke at a Vanity Fair event with Netflix executive Ted Sarandos about creating films for streaming services.

Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit - Day 1

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay speaks onstage during the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in Beverly Hills.

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Streaming services like Netflix have changed the landscape for filmmakers, director Ava DuVernay said Tuesday at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in Beverly Hills.

Sharing the stage with Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, DuVernay said making films for a streaming service has helped her ignore ratings and awards so she can create. DuVernay directed documentary "13th" for Netflix, and the company announced in July that she was slated to create a documentary miniseries on the Central Park 5.

Scoring a ratings or awards win wasn't going to be an easy path for her, said DuVernay, whose "13th" won three Emmys. "I'm a black woman from Compton who didn't go to film school. I didn't have the resources," DuVernay said. 

DuVernay said her Netflix projects have opened doors to other opportunities. 

"With Netflix it's about making the thing and presenting the thing," DuVernay said. The format works for smaller films, she said.

For other films, like "A Wrinkle In Time" that Disney plans to release in March, the big screen feels right, DuVernay said. "Now, as a content creator, I have a choice."

With all that choice for filmmakers comes a whole lot of content for viewers. But the idea that there's "too much" good TV to choose from is silly, Sarandos said. 

"It's like having too many choices at the buffet," he said. "You're only going to eat the things that you like."

DuVernay added that Netflix has helped foment a revolution in the way we consume television. We used to have to be at home in front of a television at a certain time to watch our favorite shows, she pointed out. Now that's something "you can't even imagine," she said.

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