The debate continues around how the film biz can address its diversity crisis, but it’s clear that the appetite right now is for action rather than words. Hopefully some good news here then that two prominent, established filmmakers, Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn, are teaming with not-for-profit UK enterprise Creative Access to ensure they improve representation on their sets. The filmmakers are also putting their hands in their pockets, with Ritchie ponying up £50K ($63K) for the scheme.
In the UK, a report published today illustrated that the British Film Institute’s Diversity Standards are not yet moving the dial of BAME employment behind the camera, with the latest figures showing that just 3% of film industry workers are BAME. One issue regularly cited is a lack of entry level opportunities – this is famously a closed shop.
Creative Access is looking to change that by providing opportunity to people from under represented backgrounds both through paid on-set internships and career mentoring to elevate them into more senior roles. Today, Aladdin filmmaker Guy Ritchie has signed up to partially fund the program for a one-year period – a £50K commitment that will increase during the program – and has committed to hiring 10 paid interns from underrepresented backgrounds on the production team of his next movie across different departments; an endeavor that will be ongoing on all of his future films.
Ritchie has also said he will approach other filmmakers to sign up, commencing with Michael Vaughn who has likewise committed to hiring 10 interns on his next film and beyond and is making his own financial contribution.
The Creative Access program – ‘Set Access’ – has two elements. Initially, it has a rolling program of paid internships on UK film productions funded by participating companies, which is aiming to hire 250 candidates over five years. Alongside their workplace training, they also receive a program of mentoring, peer support and masterclass opportunities. For this iteration, it will be open only to Black applicants, the most underrepresented group according to the org.
Secondly, the ‘Development Program’, is designed to help those already working in the industry to progress onto the next stage of their careers. Ritchie is funding 100% of that program’s upcoming iteration. It will be open to anyone from an underrepresented community, including those from lower socio-economic backgrounds or with disabilities. This will be achieved through training and mentoring from established figures – Ritchie and Vaughn have both signed up – to elevate participants into leadership roles. The goal here is to stop participants doing internships and then failing to progress into senior positions.
Applications to the scheme can be made through Creative Access’s website. Interns will of course have to wait until production restarts in the UK.
“Young Black people from disadvantaged backgrounds are too often at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to career opportunities, especially those in creative industries often perceived as ‘closed’,” said Ritchie. “We have a very modest initial goal of placing 50 young Black trainees in productions as soon as the current situation allows. With the help, support and guidance of others in the industry we hope that our pilot scheme will grow quickly and our aim is to dramatically increase those numbers and then, as soon as we can, open up the on-set training opportunities to young people from all disadvantaged and under-represented communities – irrespective of the color of their skin.
“Between us we should be looking to build a supportive community for our trainees where they can graduate across our productions, gaining a wealth of hands-on experience, taking on more responsibility as they grow and eventually become employed gainfully in our industry. Matthew was the first person I approached, and he agreed immediately to be part of the program. We look forward to more filmmakers joining us both as backers and mentors.”
“Of course I had to say yes when Guy called. Real change is not only about enabling candidates to get a foot through the door but ensuring that they will thrive once they do so,” added Vaughn. “We want to see candidates from a diversity of backgrounds flourish and gain senior roles, in turn offering their insight when bringing in new talent. It is from here we can enable enduring representation in the creative industries.”
“Creative Access is a community based on the shared values of equity and creativity. Our mission is to help under-represented communities, not just enter the creative industries but to thrive when they get in, because only then will the industry truly reflect and engage broader society,” added Josie Dobrin, Chief Executive and co-founder of Creative Access. “Our community has been disproportionately affected by events in recent months and we know that more than anything the one thing needed now is access, which is why we are so thrilled to be working with Guy on both elements of the project. We are grateful for Guy and Matthew’s generosity in financing the Development Program and for providing so many tangible opportunities for talent from under-represented communities in the film industry.”