A secret meeting of 44 top Hollywood movers and shakers — among them producers Paula Wagner and Mike De Luca, HBO Films president Len Amato and director Catherine Hardwicke — has come up with a four-point plan “for solving the gender parity issue that plagues Hollywood.” The two-day meeting, held October 14-15 but only now coming to light, was hosted by Women in Film and the Sundance Institute at the Pacific Design Center in LA.
The plan includes gender bias training, a sponsor/protégé program, an ambassador program to spread the word that the industry is serious about change and a “gender parity stamp” to be placed on films and TV shows that embrace gender equality.
“We are at an economic, social and cultural tipping point and sustainable change is within reach,” said Cathy Schulman, president of Women in Film Los Angeles. “The time to act is now. Hollywood is surprisingly late in coming to this party and this is the time for conversion.”
Said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute: “The time is right to gather industry leadership and start to address these obstacles. The commitment from participants makes me believe that the industry is ready to explore real, tangible solutions that create more opportunities for women.”
The four-point plan:
• Advocate “Unconscious Bias” training across the industry. Leaders in other businesses have determined that unconscious bias creates blind spots and leads to missed market opportunities, and also hinders access to valuable consumer segments limiting profits. Creating more content for women and people of color is not only about equality; it also makes good business sense. An expert Unconscious Bias educator will be selected to work with executives and creatives across the industry.
● Develop and launch a Gender Parity Stamp to recognize films and television shows — as well as production companies, networks and studios — that show measurable progress to achieving gender equity. Mirrored on the successful work by LGBT advocates and the PGA’s producer mark, this recognition for positive progress will be a visible identifier for companies that have prioritized equal gender hiring practice and have financed or supported business opportunities for women in front of and behind the camera.
● Sponsor/Protégé Program. This high-level pilot program will identify talented early-to-mid career female film and TV directors for a year-long training and fellowship program, and pair them with advocates across the industry who will actively help them move to the next level. While many individual companies have training programs, this unique program will enable the protégé to work across different networks, studios and agencies. With the support and participation of executives across the industry, this program will highlight women selected by a panel of leaders and assure they have the tools, relationships, and exposure to launch and sustain their careers.
● Ambassadors from the industry leaders at the meeting will spread the word about the solutions to studios, networks and agencies. Crucially, the participants have committed to staying involved in the project and will enlist an ever-growing group of advocates to work inside their organizations on articulating the business case for making changes in culture and practices to hire more women and people of color.
The participants included industry leaders – both men and women — from the studios, networks, distributors, guilds and agencies, as well as high-profile writers, directors and producers (see the full list below). They began by reviewing the obstacles women face in Hollywood, as identified by four years of research conducted by the Sundance Institute/Women in Film Los Angeles and the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. The meeting concluded with proposals to remove those barriers and to help female filmmakers move up the industry ladder.
One of the participants, Erik Feig, co-president of Lionsgate, said: “As someone who has professionally and creatively greatly benefited from women as protagonists, directors, producers, writers, fellow executives and audiences, gender parity has always seemed like the most win-win goal for anyone in the entertainment industry so getting behind this objective was a very easy decision for me.”
The two-day think tank was led by Carolyn Buck Luce and Rob Evans, the expert facilitation team at Imaginal Labs., who have worked with senior executives from 40 of the Fortune 100 companies and designed breakthrough strategies for women’s advancement with such companies as Google, Goldman Sachs, Time Warner, NBC Universal, Bloomberg and Intel.
Here are the participants at the meeting:
Agent and partner, WME
Producer and former Senior Vice President of Production, Columbia Pictures
Executive Vice President of Physical Production, Marvel Studios
President, HBO Films
Producer, PGA Board of Directors
Co-President, Dreamworks Animation
CEO of FilmNation
Actor, activist, author and producer
Screenwriter, WGA Board of Directors
Mike De Luca
Producer, former executive at Sony, New Line and Dreamworks
Executive Vice President of Film and Television, Miramax
Producer and former agent and Head of William Morris Independent
Former executive at Sony Pictures, Lucasfilm, Warner Bros. and Paramount and former President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences
Executive Vice President, Head of Programming, Lifetime Television
Agent and Co-Head of Film Finance, CAA
Producer and former President of Walt Disney Motion Picture Group
Founder of MACRO and former agent and partner, WME
TV series creator
President of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures
Founder of The Black List, former executive at Universal and at the production companies of Will Smith, Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, Leonardo DiCaprio and John Goldwyn
Founding law partner of Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler & Feldman
Head of Creative Affairs, Broad Green Pictures
Executive Vice President, Head of Original Programming at BET Networks, former Senior Vice President, Fox Searchlight
TV creator and showrunner, co-chair of the WGA’s Diversity Advisory Group
President, Tristar Pictures and former President, Columbia Pictures
Producer and co-founder of Pacific Standard
Writer-director, Western Council and National Board Member, DGA
Lydia Dean Pilcher
Producer and Vice President, PGA
CEO of OddLot Entertainment and Board Trustee, Sundance Institute
Executive Director, Sundance Institute
President, WGA West
Agent, partner and Head of the Independent Film Group, UTA
Founding Director, Sundance Institute Feature Film Program
Head of Production, STX Entertainment, President, Women In Film Los Angeles and Board Member, Film Independent
Director of Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, USC and author of Women In Film/Sundance Institute research
President and CEO, Radiant Films International
Screenwriter, Governor for the Writers Branch of the Academy and Chair of the Nicholl Fellowship
Producer and co-founder ofCruise/Wagner Productions; former CEO, United Artists; Board Member, PGA