Mid-year Report Card: Diversity, Inclusion Translate Into Good Business For 2019
Industry cross-section offers food for thought, reflections, predictions at year's mid-point of 2019

Striving for diversity and inclusion translates into good business on varied fronts--from qualifying for lensing incentives, to forging fruitful alliances with other companies, to helping brands promote and define themselves with progressive, positive action.

Mark Androw, executive producer of STORY and recent recipient of the AICP’s highest honor, the Jay Eisenstat Award, related, “We have always made an effort to increase diversity in our crews and have participated in several job fairs and training programs to increase the percentage of women and minorities in our crews. We shoot frequently in Illinois and to take advantage of the Illinois Film Tax credit you are required to document your efforts to create a diverse crew that mirrors the diversity of the State of Illinois, which is 20% people of color and 50% women. I am proud to report that we meet or exceed those percentages on every job we produce.”

Androw’s remarks were made in response to SHOOT’s Mid-year Survey of industry folk spanning ad agencies, the production, post and entertainment communities. His comments underscores a prevalent notion in feedback we received--that companies, like brands, need to stand for something, And often doing good is just plain good business.

John Caruso, chief creative officer and partner, MCD Partners, noted, “Through our M&C Saatchi network, we are affiliated with MAJORITY. MAJORITY is a production company that is tackling gender disparity in advertising and film by meeting it head-on with a meticulously cultivated, vibrant and distinct roster of female directors. Based in Los Angeles, MAJORITY represents a wellspring of established and previously untapped independent filmmakers who are at the cutting-edge of their craft. They are an immensely talented group who are moving the needle toward gender parity behind the lens, while creating exceptional content, and we are proud to be affiliated with them.”

Max Domain, CTO and co-founder of Obviously, added, “Women are driving advertising today, especially with digital and influencer content. Across industries, they’re the creators, the taste makers, the innovators. At Obviously, women are leading our team and engineering our technology. Our staff is incredibly diverse, representing numerous identities, genders, and speaking a number of languages. So for us, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to our success. It is truly in our DNA. We nurture and defend these tenets, and believe others must too in order to succeed in the modern professional world. As influencer marketers, young talent is our life blood. Age is irrelevant in our business. Creativity, passion and exploration are hallmarks of the influencer industry, and native to our company.”

Samantha Glynne, VP, Branded Entertainment (Global), at Fremantle, said, “We know that great ideas and bold thinking can come from anywhere and anyone and we know that a diverse and representative workforce is crucial in enabling us to create entertainment for everyone. We firmly believe that this sort of creative magic flows best when diverse people work together in an inclusive environment. So, our Creative Responsibility program is focused on helping diverse talent to succeed so innovative ideas can flourish and untold stories can come to life. We’re doing this by monitoring internal diversity so that we can understand how inclusive we really are, supporting outreach initiatives that widen the talent pool we draw from, and addressing ‘diversity killers’ that are common to our industry.”

Social change, branded content
As brands see the value of being agents for positive change--encompassing issues like diversity, inclusion and beyond--so too has the power of content become more evident. 

Violaine Etienne, co-founder and executive producer at Serial Pictures--which produced Montefiore hospital’s lauded Corazon feature for agency JohnXHannes--observed, “There’s been a dramatic increase of brands taking it upon themselves to encourage positive social change through the messages they put out as advertisers, which has been inspiring to our filmmakers and us as a community. The idea that advertising can not only sell products but also bring awareness and compel people to participate in positive change is something that is adding another layer of meaning to what we do.  And, as clients focus on the power of content more and more, they’re shifting marketing dollars toward the development of branded entertainment, which is creating new opportunities for production companies and directors to develop longer-form communication strategies hand-in-hand with agencies and clients from the start.”

In a joint statement, Amber Wimmer and Kim Jose, co-leaders of integrated production at Forsman & Bodenfors New York, shared, “The line between advertising and entertainment is becoming blurrier and blurrier each day and we love it! Johnson & Johnson’s feature documentary 5B by Ryot is remarkable and a perfect ongoing example of these two worlds colliding. F&B Singapore’s recent work for skincare brand SK-II, Timelines, is a four-part short form documentary series that is focused on young women around the globe creating their own timelines and blocking out societal pressure of marriage before they are ready. Never once is the skin care product in frame; instead the emotional journalistic docuseries (starring Katie Couric) focuses on four different young women and their diverse path to fulfillment.”

Ralph Laucella, partner/executive producer at O Positive, related, “It’s been a trend for years, but the lines are blurring between conventional TV commercials and social content. Every TVC shoot has a social content component, often as extensive as the commercial creative, and some of the social content can be quite entertaining. Although there is not always parity in relation to the job specs with schedule and budget around the broadcast and social productions, I think a positive trend is that advertisers more and more are realizing that creating quality, entertaining content takes real thought and execution and is not always something that can be shot with an iPhone during lunch.”

Ellese Shell, executive producer, Cut+Run, noted, “Cause marketing has gone from a one-off category at award shows to permeating advertising as a whole. Award winners like Nat Geo’s “Nujeen” and the AICP Next honoree McDonald’s inverted arches for International Woman’s Day both speak to the fact that award show committees are taking notice of work that activates their audience and pushes the conversation forward.”

Q&A
SHOOT is moving the conversation forward by surveying industry professionals for our Mid-year Report Card, gaining their observations about and assessments of 2019 thus far. 

We posed the following questions:

1) What trends, developments or issues would you point to thus far in 2019 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of the year and beyond?

2) What work (advertising or entertainment)--your own or others--struck a responsive chord with you and/or was the most effective creatively and/or strategically so far this year? Does any work stand out to you in terms of meshing advertising and entertainment?

3) What’s the biggest takeaway or lessons learned from work (please identify the project) you were involved in this year that was or is in the running for current awards season consideration (i.e., Emmys, Cannes Lions)?

4) Though gazing into the crystal ball is a tricky proposition, we nonetheless ask you for any forecast you have relative to content creation and/or the creative and/or business climate for the second half of 2019 and beyond.

5) What do recent honors on the awards show circuit (Producers Guild Awards, DGA Awards, Cannes Lions, AICP Show, Emmy nominations) tell us in terms of themes and trends in the industry at large?

6) What efforts are you making to increase diversity and inclusion in terms of women and ethnic minority filmmakers? How do you go about mentoring new talent?

What follows are the responses we received.

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

Name Title Company
Derek Barnes Chief Creative Officer DDB New York
Mark Androw Executive Producer STORY
Jordan Brady Filmmaker Superlounge
John Caruso Chief Creative Officer & Partner MCD Partners
Max Domain CTO and Co-Founder Obviously
Eve Ehrich Executive Producer Alkemy-X
Violaine Etienne Co-Founder & Executive Producer Serial Pictures
Jon Ettinger Executive Producer 1606 Studio
Mara H. Evans VP, Creative Director 22squared
Vince Genovese Executive Director of Integrated Production BSSP
Samantha Glynne VP Branded Entertainment (Global) Fremantle
Bonnie Goldfarb Co-Founder/Executive Producer harvest films, inc.
Marshall S. Grupp COO/Managing Partner/Sound Designer Sound Lounge
Tammie Kleinmann CEO/Partner Lucky Post
Ralph Laucella Partner/Executive Producer O Positive
Ryan Lehr Executive Creative Director Deutsch LA
Lola Lott Principal/CEO charlieuniformtango
Michael Raimondi Managing Partner Union Editorial
Christina Roldan Managing Director/Executive Producer Gentleman Scholar
Natalie Sakai Managing Director, Executive Producer ContagiousLA
Nick Seuser Founder & Executive Producer ONE TWENTY NINE FILMS
Ellese Shell Executive Producer Cut+Run
Robin Shenfield CEO The Mill
Deborah Sullivan EP/Managing Director The-Artery
Karuna Venter Managing Partner/Owner Chapeau Studios
Amber Wimmer & Kim Jose Co-Leaders of Integrated Production Forsman & Bodenfors New York

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