- LOS ANGELES
The Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) and the TIME’S UP Foundation have released Diversity Report 2020: A Study of AFCI Member and Partner Diversity Initiatives. As plans are being developed to restart production during the coronavirus pandemic, the first-of-its-kind global report draws attention to efforts led by film commissions to address safety on sets, equity among the workforce, and diversity and inclusion in leadership.
“AFCI is proud to partner with the TIME’S UP Foundation on this first-of-its-kind report, as both organizations are committed to supporting positive change for the global screen sector,” said AFCI president Jess Conoplia. “Film commissions play a critical role in diversity initiatives, and this new report provides our members and related agencies with an opportunity to lead by example as plans are being developed to restart production amid COVID-19.”
The primary purpose of the report is to showcase and share information about successful strategies, policies, and best practices for inclusivity and leadership within global film sectors. It includes recommendations for film commissions and serves as a resource for the film/TV production industry by providing intelligence on diversity initiatives.
Information in the report was collated by researcher and analyst Tara Halloran, with data sourced from AFCI members and their related government agencies worldwide. AFCI members were surveyed about their diversity initiatives and responded with information on programs across gender, ethnicity, indigenous peoples, religious beliefs, national minorities, age, sexual orientation, geographic location, disability and social background.
The report provides examples of film commission diversity initiatives across four categories:
- Information Sharing – Communicating external information (from third-party sources) regarding diversity/anti-discrimination guidelines and policies, training programs, support organizations, and other resources, as well as diverse industry suppliers and vendors. For example, the Illinois Film Office’s homepage has a link to the Illinois Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Hotline.
- Mission/Vision, Policy, and Strategy – Developing new diversity/anti-discrimination guidelines and policies, training programs, and other resources. For example, the British Film Institute has developed a set of Principles and Guidance to Prevent Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace. They were developed in partnership with BAFTA and in consultation with organizations including guilds, unions, industry member bodies and key agencies as well as employees and freelancers across all roles in response to urgent and systemic issues. Additionally Gender Matters is the umbrella name of Screen Australia’s efforts to address the under-utilization of female talent in key creative roles in the Australian screen industry. Since its inception in 2015, Gender Matters has set out a series of measures designed to speed up efforts to address gender imbalance in the Australian screen sector. Its KPI (key performance indicator) is to have 50 percent of the key creatives across all projects that receive Screen Australia development and production funding to be women, spanning a three-year average (2019-’22).
- Tax Credits, Rebates and Other Incentives – Embedding diversity/anti-discrimination planning and benchmarks into the incentive application process. Screen Ireland, for example, gives enhanced production funding for feature film projects driven by Irish female writers and directors, as part of a number of measures specifically targeted at incentivizing female writers, directors and producers, in order to directly increase female representation in the Irish film, TV and animation industry.
- Workforce Development – Expanding access to screen sector employment opportunities (creative and business) via training programs, grants, scholarships, relationships, public-private partnerships, and promotion. For example, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has launched the LA Collab initiative that aims to connect Latinx talent, executives and creators with opportunities throughout the entertainment industry and double Latinx representation in Hollywood by 2030. In 2020, LA Collab will focus on helping Latinx talent develop their skill sets and promoting collaborations with Latinx creators and top producers, filmmakers, buyers, showrunners, and industry allies. LA Collab has partnered with The Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC) to complete a report summarizing the group’s achievements over the course of its first year, and track the progress of Latino representation with the development of a first-of-its-kind Database of Latino Working Talent in Hollywood as a master tool for LA Collab’s success
TIME’S UP and AFCI hope the report serves as an information-sharing resource for AFCI members and their partners. But they also see film commissions--which are important drivers of job creation in screen sectors worldwide--as a potential catalyst for meaningful and lasting change across the entertainment industry. Diversity and equity have always been of critical importance -- and the global pandemic and protests in response to police violence have put these issues front and center.
“Film commissions play a vital role in helping artists bring their vision to life, and we commend the film commissions that are committed to creating a more diverse industry,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Foundation. “This is a critical moment in our country, for every institution and industry. Our hope is that this report inspires film commissions everywhere to lead the way in the work we need to do to achieve true diversity and inclusion in the film industry.”
As for the report’s alluded to recommendations, film commissions should consider assorted measures, including to name just a few:
- Creating a website resources page that is easily accessible and includes listing for local and national hotlines/helplines for legal/options counseling, violence prevention and support resources, local union/guild hotlines, the TIME’S UP Guide to Working in Entertainment (for U.S.-based film commissioners), and the TIME’S UP Guide to Equity and Inclusion During Crisis.
- Establishing mandatory workplace training internally for film commission staff on sexual harassment; discrimination and inclusion; unconscious bias; and mental health awareness, including understanding trauma.
- Creating mandatory diversity deliverables for production s applying for screen tax incentives.
- Creating guidelines for productions on working with and properly depicting local indigenous people, culture and environment (where applicable).
- Partnering to provide industry placements to people from groups under-represented in film and TV both in front and behind the camera.
- Supporting mentoring, internships, apprenticeships, traineeships and shadowing opportunities to under-represented groups.
- Supporting returnships, which are return to work plans that benefit parents who have taken a break to provide childcare, and caregivers who have left the industry for a stretch to look after relatives.
- And enlisting industry clients to partner on production-centered diversity initiatives (e.g., studios, larger independent production companies, etc.).
Information in the report was collated with data sourced from AFCI members representing diverse regions around the globe. The full report is available on AFCI’s website.