Bectu, the UK union that represents entertainment workers, has asked for a sit-down with awards body BAFTA to discuss a proposal that it believes would effect “substantial change” in the industry’s diversity.
Philippa Childs, head of Bectu, wrote to BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry earlier this week to express “Grave concerns about the failure of BAFTA to nominate a diverse set of recipients for this year’s awards”.
This year’s BAFTA nominations featured no female directors and an all-white list of acting nominees. The awards org has acknowledged that there is a problem and has said it will review its voting procedures this year.
Childs has asked Berry for a face-to-face meet to discuss the BAFTA awards process, what reform plans are in place, and how BAFTA can increase pressure for change in the industry.
“Bectu has been working hard for many years to increase diversity in the film and television industry and so it is extremely disappointing, especially in light of the unrest in the US over the Oscars, that so little attention has been paid to this crucial matter,” Childs’ letter reads.
Bectu’s diversity proposal is based on an existing agreement between the Directors Guild of America and many major motion picture producers that already operate in the UK. In America the agreement is limited to directors’ roles, but the Bectu agreement is much broader and would cover the whole crew. Bectu is already in discussions with Pact, the UK trade association for independent producers, about the proposal, it said.
The proposal has various stipulations, including putting a burden on the gatekeepers to “work diligently and make good faith efforts to increase the number of working Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and women Heads of Department”.
It also mandates that the companies involved establish development programs to increase opportunities for diverse crew at junior grades.
Employers would need to submit a report to Bectu within 45 days of the completion of shooting that discloses the gender and ethnicity of everyone employed on the film. They would also be required to nomination an executive to meet Bectu members at least once per year to discuss diversity efforts.
Finally, it also calls for the establishment of a Joint Diversity Action Committee, that will meet at least once every four months to ensure regular communication between Bectu and employer representatives to track the success of diversity initiatives.
“Bectu’s proposed diversity agreement, if accepted, would bring about substantial change in the film industry. We are clear that greater diversity for the industry would be a positive development and it is up to all of us to create the best conditions for this to happen,” wrote Childs.
“We are optimistic that discussions with industry bodies, such as BAFTA, can lead to the action that is needed to avoid homogenous nominations lists in the future,” she added.
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