2018 Production Outlook: Promoting Diversity, Inclusion, Opportunity
Industry feedback prioritizes a safe working environment free of harassment, marked by gender equality

As production and post execs look to the new year, SHOOT surveyed them on their vision and goals for 2018. And in light of such issues as sexual misconduct, gender pay disparity, the lack of opportunity for women and ethnic minorities finally coming to the fore, we sought feedback on these fronts, finding them to be of paramount concern to a cross-section of industry respondents.

Robin Shenfield, CEO of The Mill, noted that an initiative yielding positive results in the U.K. could surface in the U.S. this year. 

Shenfield shared, “Since launching The Mill’s diversity and inclusion strategy in September 2016 we have been working with a range of external partners to help grow the recruitment talent pool and raise awareness of VFX careers within underrepresented communities. Last year The Mill formed and continues to lead ACCESS: VFX, an industry movement made up of 11 award-winning VFX studios working together to create a more inclusive creative industry. The UK VFX community working together toward a shared goal, and collaborating in this way is crucial if we are to succeed as creative and innovative companies. This year we want to roll out our diversity initiatives across the US – it is a priority for our business. We believe that The Mill’s future success is deeply rooted in the celebration of different perspectives, ideas, backgrounds and people, and accepting everyone into the inclusion conversation is at the heart of getting this right. In 2018 we have a full calendar of events and mentoring opportunities that provides opportunity to backgrounds, disabilities and regions.”

Bonnie Goldfarb, co-founder/executive producer of harvest films, has a sense of the torch being passed onto us today to make progressive change. “I often think of the women a generation older than me who sacrificed so much for me to be where I am today. I can count those women on one hand. So, it is critical for us to step up and create opportunities, too. And I think (and hope) this awareness of pay disparity, sexual misconduct, and the like is the beginning of a fair, and inclusive work environment for all.”

As for policies that could be put in place to create and foster a healthy workplace environment, Ali Brown, partner/executive producer at PRETTYBIRD, related, “Our policy is honesty. About who we are and what we represent. PRETTYBIRD is owned by two women and an African American man and our success depends on the telling and consumption of stories by all people. We believe obstacles shouldn’t be placed in front of you due to gender, race or sexual preference, rather opportunities to share your worldview. We seek out artists who don’t tell the same stories the same way. So our policy is making sure our company reflects all that organically in its roster, staffing, and output of work rather than making a single rule. I commend anyone doing anything to improve where they are, but I don’t believe any single policy can make the level of change that’s truly needed in this industry. You have to be honest about WHAT your company represents, not WHO they represent and live that truth at every level of your organization...not just sign up for the newsletter. So our policy is truth and a company full of people committed to making sure we live it. And calling bullshit the minute we don’t.”

For Robin Benson, owner of Company Films, having a voice and being vocal are essential. “The shame is that so many women (and powerless people of all genders) feel they will be denied opportunities if they don’t ‘play the game’ or if they tattle their experiences; by continuing the dialogue, the marginalized will feel more confident to speak up. Let’s keep talking, out loud.”

In terms of priorities, Oliver Fuselier, managing partner, Tool of North America, said, “It’s of utmost importance that our company treats each and every one of our employees with respect, and to hold each other to the same standard. We believe this industry works best when you work together and build off of one another’s ideas. This means that building trust and respect should be a priority. Our team consists of the best, and we ensure no one feels they are mistreated, simply by promoting a positive work environment that encourages anyone to say something that they may feel is concerning. Transparency is key to keeping everyone honest.”

Jordan Brady, filmmaker/partner at Superlounge, affirmed, “Forget thoughts. Here’s an action step: announce at both the tech scout and your morning safety meeting on shoot days that this is a set free of misconduct, leering, inappropriate comments and such. Director, 1st AD’s and Producers need to set the tone and verbalize the zero tolerance of misconduct of any kind, including the one-thought benign comments. Get woke people.”

Lisa Mehling, owner/president of Chelsea Pictures, observed, “The #MeToo movement has swept in a rate of change in this country that has been truly profound. The effects are having an immediate impact on our industry and it’s really too soon to say how it will play out. 2018 marks the beginning of a new era, and it’s long overdue.”

Survey questions
SHOOT posed the following six questions to select production and post execs and artisans:

1) What’s the most relevant business and/or creative lesson you learned in 2017 and how will you apply it in 2018? 

2) Gazing into your crystal ball, what do you envision for the industry—creatively speaking or from a business standpoint—in 2018?

3) Tell us about one current project you are working on in early 2018.

4) What are your goals for 2018, creatively speaking and/or from a business standpoint, for your company or division? 

5) What policies do you have in place or plan to implement in 2018 to ensure gender & racial diversity in your company or division? 

6) With gender pay disparity, sexual misconduct and worse in the entertainment industry—and specific examples of these injustices surfacing in advertising, media and other sectors—what are your thoughts on what should be done to make for a safe, fair and inclusive work environment for everyone?

CLICK HERE to page through the survey responses, or click on the NAME below.

Name Title Company
Robin Benson owner Company Films
Jordan Brady filmmaker/partner Superlounge
Ali Brown partner/executive producer PRETTYBIRD
Kira Carstensen global managing partner Merman
Michelle Eskin managing partner Cut+Run
Oliver Fuselier managing partner Tool of North America
Bonnie Goldfarb co-founder/executive producer harvest films
Megan Kelly founder/managing partner Honor Society
Lola Lott principal/CEO charlieuniformtango
Lisa Mehling owner/president Chelsea Pictures
Lauren Schwartz owner/executive producer kaboom
Robin Shenfield CEO The Mill


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