The Voices Behind The Scenes
The film industry has been one of the biggest industries made within the last century. From silent black and white films to giant IMAX blockbuster hits. Film and television are the fastest growing forms of art today. They allow us to tell meaningful stories about people of all backgrounds and identities. It’s what connects us to other people. However, the fight for diversity and inclusion of minority groups in tv and films has been ongoing since the start of filmmaking. Stories of people of color, disabilities, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized communities have gone unrecognized in early entertainment. Acting and directing opportunities for these groups were once pushed to the side by what society felt was appropriate. After years of working their way to the spotlight in acting and directing, we now celebrate the work of once underrepresented groups. Black actors are now the stars in feature films, women are directing, and LGBTQ+ themed films are being produced. The industry as a whole recognizes and appreciates the diversity visible on the screen before us. The voices of actors and directors of these groups are finally being heard and seen across the world. But what about the voice of people behind the scenes? Why does the fight for inclusion in these groups still matter in 2020?
As an 18-year-old, female, Asian/Hispanic film student with the dreams of working as a film professional, I recognize the importance of diversity behind the scenes. I remember walking into my first audio-video class in high school and found myself to be only one of maybe three girls in a class full of boys. Nothing was wrong with that at first, but I found it hard to connect with other aspiring filmmakers that looked like me. Little did I realizes this was going to an ongoing theme. For the beginning of my filmmaking journey, I felt like the odd one out. A lot of my female friends started to feel the same. The boys would often dominate the ideas in class and be looked up by their peers in leadership roles. Looking at it now I realized they were familiar with a community among themselves. Boys were more common in my school's AV class than girls. Being one of maybe 3 girls in my class made us feel small. The small community among females made us feel unsure about sharing our ideas or taking leadership positions. I knew that not all film communities should be this way. I learned I had to stand up to what I believed in just to be heard. It wasn’t until years later at my first film job that a diverse community would mean to me. Walking into a room with people who look like you, have the same upbringing as you, same struggles, or identities made me feel empowered and like I belonged.
The experience I had starting in my career is only the tip of the problem in today’s film industry. For years the same people that excluded minority actors and directors will do the same to smaller film crew members. Without these small roles, we are taking away the opportunity to make films for these underrepresented groups. Ways we can help solve these issues is by providing a sense of community. Being open to new ideas and having discussions that allow for the inclusion of all people. Accepting all people will create a more diverse and empowering community for film professionals. One way we are changing these issues is with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences adding new entry qualifications for their highest award; Best Motion Picture. Applicants must qualify two of the four new standards in the film's production. This consists of minorities in actors/ensemble, creative leadership roles, crew jobs, internships, and publicity and marketing. This a great way to have inclusion for all key roles in a film by holding up these inclusive standards to the film industry. While these changes will take time, we can start with opportunities in smaller communities like school film clubs, student shorts, and eventually feature films. Taking these small steps will lead to a more celebrated world for all people in entertainment. Teaching our youth of being accepting and encouraging of minority groups in these communities will lead to a more diverse future for motion pictures and television.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and reflect on
How can you become more involved in including diversity in your community?
Will the Academy's change in qualifications influence they way we see and make films?
What other workplaces and communities do you think need more diversity and inclusion?
Have you or someone you know been in a situation were they didn't feel welcomed in a working environment and how did it impact them?
Where do you see the film and entertainment industry in a decade? Will we make the change?
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