Amazon Prime Video is rolling out on-set counselors to a number of its productions following the success of the measure on Barry Jenkins’ Underground Railroad.
The Moonlight director brought in Mental Health Counselor Kim Whyte for the production of the traumatic miniseries adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s novel, which starred Joel Edgerton and told of a group of people escaping slavery in the 1800s.
Margy Elliott, Amazon Prime’s Senior Strategy Manager, D&I, said Jenkins’ move is now considered by the streamer to be best practice in terms of mental health and safety on set.
“We’ve taken the best practice that Barry set up and used that in other sets,” she told a European Film Market panel session entitled Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Streaming Industry.
Speaking to the LA Times in May, Whyte, who provides counseling services for the military, schools and community groups, said she was “allowed to interact with everyone on set” and all cast and crew had been “encouraged to utilize me.”
Elliot was one of the main figures behind the creation of the Amazon Studios’ Inclusion Policy and Playbook, which was released six months ago and set standards on its productions in areas such as representation in creative roles, pay equity, casting and commissioning from suppliers owned by women or people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Although U.S.-specific, Amazon’s teams around the world are beginning to adapt and create versions of the Playbook, including the German division led by Head of German Originals Philip Pratt.
“We are super inspired by what the U.S. has done and are now thinking about how we can specifically work on German guidelines,” Pratt told the same EFM panel session.
His approach focuses on four areas: storytelling, casting, crew and internal staff, and he has set up a diversity and inclusion working group who “meet regularly to discuss certain goals.”
Amazon Germany is also consulting with people from the transgender community, for example, on shows such as prostitution drama Luden, while it has also launched a safety hotline for victims of bullying and harassment.
Luden featured on a 2021 slate that included an adaptation of Wolfgang Hohlbein’s cult novel The Gryphon.
Speaking at EFM earlier today, Amazon Studios Europe Head Georgia Brown said shows like The Gryphon indicate Amazon Europe has autonomy from Amazon U.S.
“In my head we’re a European streamer,” she explained.
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