- NEW YORK
Over 100 Black filmmakers, directors, producers, DPs and more across filmmaking and advertising communities have formed the Black Filmmakers Collective, launching a new pledge to increase the number of Black workers at all levels of the commercial and music video industry called “CHANGE THE LENS.” Imperial Woodpecker director Rohan Blair-Mangat, Park Pictures director Savanah Leaf and in-house Florence EP Alli Maxwell together are leading this initiative.
As Black people comprise approximately 15% of the United States and London population, the CHANGE THE LENS pledge asks creative companies to commit to increasing the diversity of their department heads, crew at all levels and more, to reflect at least 15% Black representation. The pledge also asks production companies to consult a Head of Diversity & Inclusion, a role that would mediate and oversee implementing the diversity pledge within each company.
Click HERE to view the CHANGE THE LENS pledge website.
Click HERE to learn more about the role of a Head of Diversity & Inclusion.
The complete pledge, differing slightly for each industry sector, reads:
Production Company Pledge
- 15%+ Black Directors On Roster
- Consult With A Head Of Diversity & Inclusion
Talent Agency Pledge
- 15%+ Black Talent On Roster
- 15%+ Black Department Heads And Crew On Every Job
- 15%+ Black Department Heads And Crew On Every Job
Department Head Pledge
- 15%+ Black Crew On Every Job
Companies that have already gladly taken the pledge include Academy Films, Epoch Films, Luti Media, Object & Animal, Park Pictures, PRETTYBIRD and Pulse Films. Talent agencies include DDA Talent, Iconic Talent Agency, Murtha Skouras, The Gersh Agency and United Talent Agency.
Individual pledging producers/EPs include Park Pictures producer Cody Ryder, Couscous EP Salim El Arja, London Alley EP Luga Podesta, Florence EP Alli Maxwell, Luti Media producer Luti Fagbenle, and global president, commercials & branded at Pulse Films Davud Karbassioun, among others. Pledging directors include Park Pictures director Savanah Leaf, director A.V. Rockwell, director Terence Nance, music video and television director Benny Boom, director Rohan Blair-Mangat, PRETTYBIRD director Calmatic (Chuck Kidd II), music video director Karena Evans, Director/Sam Frank Productions EP Maya Table, music video and film director Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), and many more outstanding filmmakers.
Director Leaf noted, “We’re asking for what we have always deserved: an opportunity to be the voice of our own stories.”
EP Maxwell said, “For far too long production company hiring practices have allowed for exclusion and bias particularly along racial lines. Acknowledging racism exists and continuing with business as usual is not an acceptable option anymore when there is clear and overdue work that needs to be done regarding racial equality and equity in production.”
“Hiring more Black heads of department and supporting Black filmmakers will empower them to tell their stories, provide varying perspectives, and ultimately bring through the next generation of Black talent,” added Blair-Mangat. “Alongside our partners at Bid.Black and Sporas, we are creating a community with the resources to inspire and enact change. The industry has not done enough to hold itself accountable. Now is the time to take action. After all, actions speak louder than words...and black squares.”
Calmatic said, “I hope the next generation of directors are financially literate when it comes to their profession and know the ins and outs of how the industry they pour all their creativity into works. A diverse roster is important because it normalizes that other people from different backgrounds are just as talented and qualified. Aside from talent, perspective, personal journey and resilience should be just as important attributes companies use to consider signing new directors.”
Director Evans said, “The difference lies not only in green-lighting black stories and hiring black filmmakers to tell their stories, but in the unlimited benefit I’ve experienced first hand when the means of production are also controlled by black storytellers. It creates a fertile environment where our voices are heard and not exploited. Being signed to a black owned production company with black representation on its roster is so important to me because there is a real understanding of my value and artistic sensibilities as a black female director. I feel seen which thereby reinforces my belief in my own value. And this understanding and respect is what breeds high-quality art and storytelling that impacts and curates culture.”
The Black Filmmakers Collective was founded to address what the production industry was doing to combat systemic racism in everyday career paths. While many companies have demonstrated solidarity, the collective aims to pivot that enthusiasm toward actionable change.
CHANGE THE LENS pledge-takers list:
- ACADEMY FILMS | BISCUIT | COUSCOUS | DIPLOMATS | EPOCH FILMS | EVEN/ODD | FLORENCE | IMPERIAL WOODPECKER | LUTI MEDIA | OBJECT + ANIMAL | PARK PICTURES | PRETTYBIRD | PULSE FILMS | RADICAL MEDIA | RATTLING STICK | RUFFIAN | SOMESUCH
- AKIL GIBBONS | ALLI MAXWELL | CARDOSO JORDAN | CODY RYDER | DAVUD KARBASSIOUN | DOM THOMAS | FIZ OLAJIDE | JORDAN I. CARDOSO | LAVINIA NOEL | LUGA PODESTA | LUTI FAGBENLE | MAYA TABLE | MICHA COOPER | NERENDA EID | NINA SORIANO | PETER KLINE | SALIM EL ARJA
- A.V. ROCKWELL | ALMA HAR’EL | AMANDLA BARAKA | ARISTOTLE TORRES | BENNY BOOM | CALMATIC | CAMERON ROBERT | DA YIRGOU | DAPS F | DIME DAVIS | DUMAS HADDAD | ELISHA SMITH-LEVEROCK | FIZ OLAJIDE | FRANCIS BERNAL | JASON HARPER | JONATHAN AUBRIE LEWIS | KARENA EVANS | MATTHEW DILLON COHEN | MAYA TABLE | MEL JONES | MOHAMMAD GORJESTANI | NAIMA RAMOS-CHAPMAN | NAJEEB TARAZI | PASQUAL GUTIÉRREZ | QURAN SQUIRE | ROHAN BLAIR-MANGAT | RON BRODIE | RYAN MARIE HELFANT | SAVANAH LEAF | SEAN FRANK | SESAN OGUNRO | SHAUN JAMES GRANT | SHELDON CANDIS | TERENCE NANCE | TIESHA ADAMS | TIFFANY JOHNSON | WESLEY WALKER
- AYINDE ANDERSON | BRUCE COLE | CHRIS UNGCO | CHRISTIAN EPPS | DOMINIC JONES | ERIC LIN | FARAI DUBE | ISIAH DONTÉ LEE | JAMAL SOLOMON | JASON HIGHTOWER | JOANNA NGUYEN | JOEL HONEYWELL | JOHN RONEY | JORDAN ORAM | JOSHUA CUBAS | KEVIN GK FREDERICK | KIRA KELLY | MALCOLM PULLINGER | MICHELLE CLEMENTINE | NINA SORIANO | OLAN COLLARDY | PIERCE ROBINSON | RICHARD VIALET | RYAN MARIE HELFANT | SALIM EL ARJA | SANTIAGO GONZALEZ | T MADDOX UPSHAW
- DDA TALENT | ICONIC TALENT AGENCY | MURTHA SKOURAS | THE GERSH AGENCY | UNITED TALENT AGENCY
- ALEXANDRA AMIN | DEVIN MANN | HEINRICH MEYER | HILLARY COOK | HOLLAND MURRAY | JUANITA TIANGCO | LORENZO CHAVEZ | MARIE PERRY | PATTIE SUEOKA | PETE FRANCIOSA | ROBERT ARAKELIAN