The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has set new diversity standards for two of its main film prizes as well as tweaking membership requirements to allow more flexibility for incoming candidates.
Beginning in 2019, the Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer categories will adhere to the diversity standards set out by the British Film Institute. That means productions will need to demonstrate that they have worked to increase the representation of under-represented groups in two of the four following areas: On screen representation, themes and narratives; project leadership and creative practitioners; industry access and opportunities; and opportunities for diversity in audience development.
In terms of membership eligibility, the requirement for new applicants to be proposed by someone from the existing membership has been removed. Says BAFTA, “This widens the pool of potential members and ensures that it’s only talent, and not also who you know, that enables BAFTA membership.”
The film awards changes, which BAFTA says demonstrate its intention to take a leading role in increasing representation, come following a consultation with the BFI and leading British film producers. Under-represented groups in the film industry include people from minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled people, women and LGBT. It also includes people from lower socio-economic groups. In certain categories, productions based or set outside London can also count towards achieving the standards.
BAFTA Deputy Chair, Anne Morrison, tells Deadline the moves are a means to “level the playing field for people trying to enter the industry and help them all the way up.” The changes have been universally welcomed, from James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli to Brooklyn‘s Finola Dwyer and beyond.
The BAFTA Film Committee says it believes these standards are a flexible and achievable model, which the whole industry can adopt as a shared language for understanding diversity. They also provide a shared framework for measuring diversity so that the industry can track progress over time.
BAFTA has found that its initiatives have already effected change. The latest intake of 375 new members during 2016 is 43% female, 18% from minority ethnic groups, and has a median age of 44. That’s compared to the previous intake which found that 41% of respondents who chose to answer the question were female, 13% were from minority ethnic groups, and had a median age of 52.