This speaks to two things recently discussed on this blog: first, my attempts to repurpose the Bechdel Test (a measurement used to highlight gender bias in cinema), to highlight and help erode racial inequalities also in cinema, using M. Asli Dukan’s 5 basic criteria for blacks in sci-fi films (read that here if you missed it); and second, and maybe more significant, veteran black British actor Lenny Henry’s very public ongoing diversity push, focusing his attention on the opportunities for black and minority ethnic groups in the UK TV and film industry today (catch up on that here).
In short, the BFI (British Film Institute) Film Fund announced over the weekend that the organization has set up a list of criteria, focusing on 3 key areas (or "3 ticks" as they call it), that UK film productions applying for BFI funding, need to meet, all in an effort to improve diversity within the film and TV industries in the UK – diversity in relation to ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.
The BFI’s new "3 ticks" approach, which is backed by UK producers’ association Pact and ethnic minority recruitment and training charity Creative Access, will be implemented for all productions supported through the BFI Film Fund from September 2014, and will be adapted and rolled out across all BFI Lottery funding for film by July 2015.
The BFI adds that it is recruiting a "Diversity Expert" to support the introduction and implementation of the new guidelines and provide guidance to BFI-backed productions and the wider industry.
Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaziey said: "This initiative from the BFI should help raise the bar and ensure BFI lottery funded film productions reflect diversity both in front and behind the camera. I want to continue to see the TV, film and the performing arts industries actively discussing how they can drive change and improve diversity right across these sectors. I hope others will follow the BFI in developing and implementing possible solutions."
BFI CEO, Amanda Nevill added: "To stay really relevant, it is vital that our film and television industries reflect and properly represent our society. Diversity is good for creativity; it supports economic growth, taps into underserved audiences and makes for good business sense. It’s a complex challenge but one we want to approach with an open heart and mind and renewed vigour, so today’s announcement is just the beginning."
And finally, Director of the BFI Film Fund, Ben Roberts, shared: "Diversity is and will continue to be one of the most challenging and persistent issues to address. We already support a wide range of voices through the Film Fund, but the BFI and the wider film industry can all do more to ensure films reflect the breadth of talent and audiences in the UK, and to provide routes of career progression in front of and behind the camera. The ‘three ticks’ approach incentivises good practice and helps to embed diversity across every area of a film’s production, while being flexible enough to allow productions to make positive choices. Ideally we want to see the industry embracing the three ticks approach to ensure that the most talented are able to progress and succeed, whatever their background."
This initiative is significant because the BFI Film Fund is the largest public film fund in the UK, investing over £27 million (or about $46 million) into film development, production, international sales and distribution, and supporting around 30 new film productions each year. Recent BFI Film Fund-backed productions telling diverse stories include Amma Asante’s "Belle," currently on general release through Fox Searchlight, "Gone Too Far" from director Destiny Ekaragha and writer Bola Agbaje, and "Pride" from director Matthew Warchus and writer Stephen Beresford, which will be released in the UK by Pathe on 12 September.
The "3 ticks" emphasizes 3 key sections, all outlined below:
|SECTION A: ON SCREEN DIVERSITY|
|A1 DIVERSE SUBJECT MATTER||Films where the narrative reflects diversity through the story and its characters. For example, where a film’s subject matter explicitly and predominantly explores issues of identity relating to ethnicity or national origins, a specific focus on women, people with disabilities, sexual identity, age and people from a socially disadvantaged background. Other factors relating to on screen diversity through subject matter: where the film attaches value to those aspects or dimensions of self and/or community identity in relation to religion or beliefs.
Some examples of recent Film Fund films that meet these criteria include: BELLE, PRIDE, SUFFRAGETTE, GONE TOO FAR, THE SELFISH GIANT, PHILOMENA, X+Y, THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY, FOR THOSE IN PERIL, CATCH ME DADDY, CALVARY, 45 YEARS.
|A2 DIVERSE LEAD CHARACTERS||If at least 1 of the lead characters positively reflects diversity through ethnicity (BAME), disability, gender, sexual identity or people from a socially disadvantaged background.||√|
|A3 PROMINENT ON SCREEN PORTRAYAL IN SUPPORTING & BACKGROUND CHARACTERS||If at least 30% of the supporting and/or non-speaking characters positively reflect diversity through ethnicity (BAME) or national origins , disability, gender, sexual identity or people from a socially disadvantaged background.||√|
SECTION B: OFF SCREEN DIVERSITY
|B1 DIRECTOR; SCRIPTWRITER; COMPOSER; or CINEMATOGRAPHER||If the Director, Scriptwriter, Composer or Cinematographer is from a diverse background either through ethnicity (BAME), disability, sexual identity, gender (women) or from a socially disadvantaged background||√|
|B2 HODs||At least 2 of the HoDs (Production Designer; Costume Designer; Lead Editor; Sound Designer; VFX supervisor; Hair & Make-up Supervisor) are from a diverse background, either through ethnicity (BAME), disability, sexual identity, gender or from a socially disadvantaged background.||√|
|B3 CREW||At least 10% of the total crew are BAME; or 5% are disabled; or 40% are from a socially disadvantaged background; or if at least 30% are women; or, depending on the location of the production, we will also consider an otherwise demonstrable and reasonable ‘significant engagement’||√|
|B4 PRODUCTION COMPANY STAFF||If at least 10% of the applicant production company staff, including the producer/s, are from a diverse background either through ethnicity (BAME), disability, or from a socially disadvantaged background;
or if at least 50% are female.
SECTION C: CREATING BAME & DISABILITY OPPORTUNITIES AND PROMOTING SOCIAL MOBILITY
|C1 PAID INTERNS / EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES||If the applicant production company engages one or more paid interns from a diverse background (specifically BAME or from a socially disadvantaged background) for no less than 6 months, from a programme such as Creative Access, or offers employment opportunities||√|
|C2 TRAINING & SKILLS||In addition to the existing requirement to make a contribution to skills and training through the SIF levy payment, if the production or parent production company makes and offers at least one trainee placement for people from diverse backgrounds (specifically BAME or from a socially disadvantaged background) through Creative Skillset or other training placement programmes.||√|
|C3 ONGOING PROGRESSION||If a production takes on a former C2 trainee, or a production company takes on a former C1 intern or employee, and moves them upwards into a more developed role. NB. As part of its industry wide diversity monitoring, the Film Fund Diversity Expert will look at the overall progression of interns and trainees and identify barriers to career development.||√|