DEI: Inclusion Initiatives

We met director Tom Verica (Umbrella Academy, Bridgerton) a few years ago. Mr. Verica is Senior Creative Production Advisor for Shondaland, makers of Bridgerton. Shondaland is involved as a partner on the Women Directing Mentorship program by SeriesFest’s Inclusion Initiative, which seeks to serve creators and future executives. The mentorship program is 1 of 3 programs intended to boost diversity and equity at the episodic festival; the other 2 are the Pitch-a-Thon and Level Forward Impact Award. The winner shadows a director (hint: maybe Tom Verica) for an episode of a Shondaland original series and pick up a $5K stipend to use in the mentorship. More information about this and the other two programs may be found here.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, and USC all released reports on women in film in 2022. While the latter two are industry-focused, UNESCO’s report is directed to public policymakers and how signatory nations are implementing the 2005 Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (which you can read about here). The report notes that only 33% of film awards recipients worldwide are women. You may download and read Re|Shaping Policies for Creativity here.

In the Celluloid Ceiling Report, published by Dr. Martha Lauzen, data shows that the number of female directors in films dropped since 2020, while the number of women in other roles (e.g. editing, cinematography) rose in 2021. The report covers three major areas: the top 100, Watched At Home, and the top 250 grossing films (excluding international and re-issues) since 1998. This year’s report incorporates 3,100 credits. Read the full report here.

Finally, USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released its study, entitled, “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair: Analysis of Director Gender & Race/ Ethnicity Across 1,500 Top Films from 2007 to 2021.” Results are limited to the highest-grossing theatrical fictional narratives over 15 years. In terms of both the Celluloid Ceiling and Director’s Chair studies, 2020 is a watershed year for gains by women as directors, while 2021 has even further gains for BIPOC, AAPI, Latino, and multiracial directors (albeit many are men). As between studios and streamers (studios who stream are still, studios), streamers favor women, with Amazon Prime leading at 37.5 percent of its original films directed by women (and 15 percent by women of color). Read the report here.

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