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#FairnessFirst: Making modern movies in 2018

While movies have been mainstream for more than a hundred years, diversity behind the lens has been more than a little lacking - hello 2018's top trending TV and cinema industry hashtags, #TimesUp and #OscarsSoWhite. That's why production teams around the globe rejoiced at the news that LA mayor Eric Garcetti, It and The Lego Movie producer Dan Lin and female film firebrand Ava DuVernay are working to get more females, people of colour and those from low-income households producing movies that more accurately reflect 2018.
Ava DuVernay on the 89th Oscars' red carpet in 2017. Original image © Tyler Golden of ABC on . Cropped with #FairnessFirst logo overlay as per Creative Commons terms.
Ava DuVernay on the 89th Oscars' red carpet in 2017. Original image © Tyler Golden of ABC on ABC Television Group Flickr stream. Cropped with #FairnessFirst logo overlay as per Creative Commons terms.

It’s no secret – the TV, film and cinematography industry is vastly in need of transformation.

Here in SA, last year’s Sisters Working in Film and Television or Swift report found that as much as 78% of these women feel that they are discriminated against because of their gender.

Sadly, broadening the focus doesn’t improve the image. Almost from the start, with the commercial, public screening of ten of the Lumière brothers' short films in Paris in 1895, filmmaking and the production of ‘moving pictures’ has been seen as the domain of the older, white men of money. But it’s time for a shakeup of note.

DuVernay is leading the pack in making that change by imagining a different Hollywood and indeed global film industry. Long lauded as the motivational movie maven we need, she’s a true Jill of all trades, as writer, producer, director and distributor of independent film.

DuVernay’s Twitter bio sums up exactly who she is:

A girl from Compton who got to make a Disney movie about finding light in a dark world.
But her work on A wrinkle in time brings her to true superstar status as it makes her the first African-American woman to direct a movie with a budget over $100m. Now she’s looking to give others in the industry a much-needed leg up.
Reimagining Hollywood with the Evolve Entertainment Fund

According to Variety, the Evolve Entertainment Fund and all-encompassing diversity initiative led by DuVernay, Garcetti and Lin is set to promote inclusion and offer exciting opportunities to those otherwise not given a chance to break into the industry.

The New York Times reports that the partnership that would specifically fund Hollywood internships for women, people of colour and those from low-income households.
As an alliance between the City of Los Angeles, industry leaders in entertainment and digital media, non-profit organisations, and educational institutions, the fund has already secured 150 paid summer internships for students participating in the Hire LA’s Youth program and is partnering with leading entertainment and digital media organisations that include DreamWorks Animation, Ryan Murphy Television, Film Independent, WME, CAA, Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios, and Anonymous Content.

That number will snowball, with DuVernay confirming a goal of 500 placements by 2020.

Better representation on screen in 2018

Switching focus to the front of the lens, Marvel’s latest superhero story Black Panther is also making ‘movie diversity’ headlines, with The Independent's video interview with Black Panther's director Ryan Coogler explaining how it's bringing Afrofuturism into the mainstream:

Why Black Panther is such a game-changer
Why Black Panther is such a game-changer

  19 Feb 2018

The Guardian calls it the most radical superhero film yet as it goes beyond typical comic book movie stock to torpedo stereotypes left, right and centre with not only a strong African-American cast but also placing feminism on the front foot with Wakanda’s elite, all-female sub-Saharan African royal guardians in the same vein as the legendary Amazonian women warriors of Themyscira in Wonder Woman last year.

Interestingly, CinemaBlend confirms that DuVernay passed on directing Black Panther but said she’d "be first in line to see it."

Interesting times behind the camera, let’s hope for more inclusion, equality and diversity in every aspect going forward!

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.
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