50 Ideas to Revolutionise the Film and TV Industry

from Carla 2020

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/1. Reconsider the word ‘diversity’

Heather Rae, producer and activist
“One of my issues with the notion of diversity is the idea that somebody who is ‘diverse’ is somehow diverse to some sort of standardized norm. In other words, we are diverse in contrast to a standardized norm, which effectively is whiteness or maleness or CIS gender-ness or able bodied-ness. But that’s an illusion. There is no standardized norm of humanity.”

/2. Have an intersectional outlook

Dr. Emilia Zenzile Roig, founder and executive director, Center for Intersectional Justice:
“If we can apply an intersectional lens, we can make sure the category woman’ embraces the large diversity of people who also are in this category but tend to be erased. It means we could have black women, Muslim women, queer women, trans women, women with disabilities, women from the Global South, North, all over the place and at least, and very importantly, who play roles or tell stories that go against the dominant narrative of what a woman should be”

/3. Consider your project or company´s values

You might want to use or adapt the CARLA 2020 Value Statement

/4. Follow your passion

Mo Abudu, founder, EbonyLife TV
“When you find what you’re passionate about, ultimately that translates to you finding your purpose in life. Once you’ve found passion and purpose, I think those are the two major driving forces for success. Even when things aren’t going the way you want them to be, once there’s purpose and passion, everything else falls into place.”

/5. Have a global perspective

Dr Susan Liddy, editor of Women in the International Film Industry
Policy, Practice and Power, which covers gender equality in film in 17 countries: “We know an awful lot about [gender equality] in Hollywood, and indeed Sweden because of its trailblazing leadership, but maybe not so much about other parts of the world. So my hope is that this book will establish the range and scale of gender equality and the urgency, or the lack of urgency, with which the issues are being addressed from country to country.”

/6. Vote wisely

Tori Amos, musician, author and activist
“[In the US], we’re voting for a system: an authoritarian one or a democratic one. This is our time in history where democracy isn’t a given. It’s not an entitlement. It’s something that our ancestors fought for and came over from other shores, to be part of because they didn’t want to live in an aristocracy. Now we’re looking at an economic aristocracy, that doesn’t want you or your children to be educated, to be anything really but a serf.” 

/7. Become an activist

Maria Jansson, professor, Örebro University
“This transformation from knowledge into action is not an easy endeavor, for this to happen we need to join forces, scholars and film workers, and for a moment forget our professions and become activists.”

/8. Listen and learn from others

Helene Granqvist, president, Women in Film & TV International
“I believe that change happens when people start to really listen to each other.”

/9. Amplify other people´s great work

Yvette Nicole Brown, actress, writer and host
“We do need to learn to toot our own horn but I really believe in celebrating other people. If you look at my Instagram or Twitter, more times than not I’m celebrating a project someone else is doing. Nothing makes me happier than amplifying other people’s wins. Until we get it where we can do it for ourselves, it’s important to do it for others.”

/10. Inclusion is good business 

Effie T Brown, CEO, Gamechanger Films
“As a black female CEO, right now I need to show that women, people of colour, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities are not a charity. We are actually good business. We can have a bit more leverage where we have our own resources, our own equity to start financing our own projects instead of going to other people who don’t look like us who don’t have the same experiences that we do.”

/11. Step Aside

Joey Soloway, writer, director, producer
“It takes a really amazing person to just step aside, who is going to be at the height of their career, they’re going to be a museum director, they’re going to run a theatre company, they’re going to run a studio, their dreams are coming true. say, ‘I want to replace myself with a black woman, or a black trans woman.’ If black trans women are leading, that means the rest of the world is okay. It means that the least powerful have made it to the top. Don’t look for the most powerful person. Don’t look for the white guy. Don’t look for the man. Don’t look for the most experienced person. Look for the person who’s ready to come in and share their leadership, share their vision, share their heart, there are so many people ready to do that. So I look at Hollywood, 10 years from now — all those people who are in power, they will be gone and all of our friends will have their jobs.”

/12. Don´t be afraid to rebuild

Dame Heather Rabbatts, Chair, Time’s Up UK
“Let’s have conversations about literally dismantling brick by brick the edifice so that we can restructure this industry in a way that ensures the stories we tell are absolutely from the community which we are all part of.” 

/13. Join forces

Theo Lindberg, Senior Editor and Partner at Chimney
“When trans people are discriminated against or not given opportunities to work in front of or behind the camera, it affects trans people all around the world in the film industry. My hope with WIFTI Trans is a network, and a voice, so we can battle transphobia, globally, where we can all be united.”

/14. Don´t wait for permission – champion yourself!

Diana Williams, EVP of Creative, Madison Wells Media
“I think that there are some women and people of colour who were waiting for permission. And that’s not how it should work. You’ve got to go out there…I’ve had to learn that sometimes your body of work sometimes actually doesn’t speak for yourself, you have to speak for yourself. You speak the best for yourself.”

/15. Work across a variety of formats and platforms 

Joyce Prado, producer, director, specialist in Audiovisual Screenwriting from Centro Universitário SENAC
“I cannot aim only for one kind of content or one distribution platform. I need to work with several kinds of content – most of them with low budgets – and at the same time trying to pressure this different perspective, this decolonial perspective, and also look for this space of black women in cinema, and in audiovisual as a whole. Because we are not there – our perspective is not there. Not in what is mainstream.” 

/16. Put your money where your mouth is

Anna Serner, CEO, Swedish Film Institute
“I’ve always said, as a mantra to myself to get myself going, ‘stop talking, and start to act.’ The other thing I usually say is that, ‘money talks.”

/17. Embrace new stories and structures

Tabitha Jackson, director, Sundance Film Festival
“Let us together imagine how we might reassert independence for our times. Independence, perhaps, free from the risk-averse constraints of market-led creativity, free to break the form, challenge the audience, experiment. Free from the reductive tyranny of only Western storytelling structures. Free to find the forms in which life is expressed in all its messy, beautiful own truths. Free from being only revenue generators and data points for platforms in a capitalist system. Free to live creative, sustainable lives as makers with a meaningful connection to our audiences. Free from the power of homogenous gatekeepers to determine who gets their work financed, seen and distributed. And free to make independent cinema the ultimate frame of representation.” 

/18. Women can tell any story they want 

Amma Asante, filmmaker, on her new film Billion Dollar Spy, which will star white men
“I am only humanized when, as a woman and as a black person, I’m allowed to tell these stories and express and platform the ways in which I connect as a human being to other human being’s stories. It’s sort of dehumanizing, in a way, to restrict my access to the kinds of stories I can tell when we don’t do that to white men at all.” 

/19. Ask for more resources

Ally Xue, actress, writer and producer, Flat3
“Ask for more. Don’t be afraid to ask for more! A lot of us think we’ll take the crumbs, because that could be the only chance we get. You don’t know until you ask.” 

/20. Own your work

Penny Smallacombe, Head of Indigenous, Screen Australia
“Not only do we want to support Indigenous writers and directors to make amazing content but we want to own content and want to be able to exploit it for our communities. It is our IP and these are our stories. There’s a shift that definitely happening right now, not just wanting to tell stories but wanting to own them as well.

/21. Use your power to create opportunities

Paul Feig, filmmaker
“While I really think mentorship is really important, I think sponsorship is the most important thing. Because I think for any of us who have any kind of say or clout to not use that to create opportunity, that’s the biggest problem. What we’re doing with ReFrame and the sponsorship we’re doing there, is to be able to go in and say to a studio ‘We guarantee this person could do it.’ That’s one of the reasons I wanted to create my company Powder Keg, because even though it’s short form, some female directors card.”

/22. Keep speaking up about abuse or harassment, and support others who speak out 

Dorte Rømer, actress
“There are men who threatened me, and still do today, for speaking up – they threatened to rape me, butcher me, sabotage and kill me and my family. I want to avenge by speaking up, staying in the business and continuously working for a better working environment for men and women of all shapes, colours and sizes together.” 

/23. Change the abelism inherent in the industry 

Jim LeBrecht, co-director, Crip Camp
“[To make it in the film industry] you have to start as an intern who can run around and get coffee and go make photocopies and work 20 hour days, and that filters out a lot of people, not just with disabilities. So, we have to look at the system that allows people to rise and realise that there’s ableism and there are barriers throughout. It’s the responsibility of the people in the industry to take a hard look at it and fix it.”

/24. Show disabled people in a myriad of roles on screen 

Malini Chib, author and activist
“We need to show people with all kinds of disabilities. The hearing impaired, the visually impaired. The more people we show with disabilities and varieties of disabilities, the more we will educate….A disabled person’s body is looked at with revulsion and pity. We are not thought of as sexual beings. Margarita with a Straw completely smashed this myth.”

/25. Let a range of actors play mainstream roles 

Shonali Bose, filmmaker
“It’s important that you put any marginalized beings on camera in the mainstream, not just being black, gay or disabled. Just being that character.” 

/26. Show sex in real ways   

Anne Choma, author of Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister
“As a gay woman myself, it’s incredibly important to be able to see reality depicted on TV. One of the comments that came after the series [Gentleman Jack] had transmitted from gay women around the world, for the first time they felt represented in the way the sex was portrayed and how it was different from what they’d seen on mainstream TV before. That was massive. We wanted to be able to do justice for the LGBTQI community and give them something that they would remember as a positive experience of seeing sex on screen. It was hugely important for us to get that right and were very sensitive to all that.” 

/27. Hire inclusive crews

Gale Anne Hurd, producer
“There’s still a great deal of resistance and it’s so important that it’s not only those of us who are above the line that matter – the producers, writers, directors, actors – but everyone on a film set, on a film crew.” 

/28. Check your scripts

Madeline Di Nonno, CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
“Although progress is happening, it’s not happening quick enough. And we could all do our part to systemically achieve cultural equity inclusion in entertainment…So consider stating blatantly in your scripts that characters can be cast to a variety of gender, people of colour, LGBTQ+, disabilities, age, body type — check yourself for tropes and stereotypes. Our motto has always been, “If they can see it they can be it.” We don’t have to wait for society to turn things around, we can create the future and let life imitate art.” 

/29. Avoid stereotypes

Tonya Williams, Reelworld Film Festival
You want to make sure the content is reflective and not stereotypical – like all black people are slaves. We need to have content that shows people in very positive ways and that will change when we can change leadership.” 

/30. Adopt on-set intimacy guidelines

Intimacy coordinator Ita O’Brien has published guidelines here
https://www.itaobrien.com/intimacy-on-set-guidelines.html At CARLA 2020, she said, “The overall tenets of the guidelines are open communication and transparency: producers, directors, actors right from the get go, if there’s intimate content there, talk about it. I say to directors, before the audition stage, think about what you want. Prepare to have that open conversation.” 

/31. Work across different zones 

ILaurence Lascary, producer
“You have to be versatile. You have to be able to talk to the government, you have to be able to talk to the institutions, but at the same time you have to implicate the private sector, studios, because the change has to come from everyone. You have to cultivate the change. You have to fight the toxic environment and make your ideas mainstream.” 

/32. Create new structures

Ylva Habel, researcher, Uppsala University
“James Baldwin said that we shouldn’t want to be integrated into a burning house. According to my view, we should not strive to be only included into an already corrupt structure that is part of white supremacy. We need to reconstitute everything.” 

/33. Tell your own story

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, filmmaker
“It’s time that Indigenous voices lead the way in telling our own stories and that is essential to narrative sovereignty,” 

/34. Invest in women

Julie Taymor, writer and director of The Glorias
“I had an impossible time raising money for this film, The Glorias. The way we were treated – with Julianne Moore, Gloria Steinem, myself and a best-selling book – we couldn’t get the kind of money to tell this as a wide story. Yet how many Winston Churchill movies do we need, or LBJ’s?” 

/35. Redefine success

Claudia Bluemhuber, CEO and Managing Partner, Silver Reel
“One thing that people need to understand in our societies, is that there are different ways to measure return. So far, what people are doing is they measure return simply on a monetary basis, which is wrong if you look at the costs for society. There is other currency, change is a currency, positive impact is a currency. And it’s way overdue by our societies that we also integrate these in measuring return.” 

/36. Watch films created by women and people of colour

Lizzie Francke, Senior production and development executive, BFI
“I would say to young women, ‘You have to go and see every film directed by a woman.’ That’s being a responsible audience member about really engaging and excited by the diversity of cinema.” 

/37. Leadership has to change

Prem Gill, Creative BC
“We need to continue being relentless… Unless we do see the leadership in organisations around the world shift from the performative to the transformative and actually have the positions of power occupied by more people who are not white, that’s when we will see a shift.” 

/38. Give yourself a report card

Lisa Meeches, Eagle Vision
“One of the things I find really helpful as a decision-maker is being able to take a step back and fill out my own report card and also the industry’s report card and I believe at this point we’d all be failing. We’ve done a lot of work as an industry… but we need to start implementing those calls to action and calls for justice, whether we do it in-house or do it nationally. But we’ve gotta quit talking about this and this is the time for change. 

/39. Seize the moment to go global

Stephanie Allain, producer
“One of the great things that has come out of [the pandemic] for me is that the Zoom room actually works. I have a filmmaker in Kenya, we had talked on the phone, or she would come here every now and then, but now on Zoom it feels like we’re progressing in real time. It shrinks the globe a little bit more in terms of being able to work with people anywhere. And that’s super duper exciting when I said I’ve been working so much it’s because you can you can pitch, you can pitch, three different places in half a day on zoom. all those barriers have sort of fallen. I think that especially internationally, we’ve cracked something that will stay cracked open.” 

/40. Challenge your own biases

Desiree Akhavan, filmmaker
“Where are the black faces in my own work? I never thought that was necessary because I am a niche myself. But I’m re-evaluating my own choices. I want to change the rooms and the conversation. I shouldn’t always be surrounded by the same faces and the same Oxford educated women who are white and blonde.” 

/41. Foster exchange

Dina Naser, Palestinian Jordanian director and producer
“It’s not about or institute. It’s the exchange we want to have. Let’s help ourselves and help others.” 

/42. Engage with policymakers

Edima Otuokon, co-founder, Ladima Foundation
“There is a need for us to begin to engage policymakers to ensure that they understand that women need to be in the room, to be able to articulate what their issues and challenges are, and the current film environment that we find ourselves, there’s a need for us to be able to articulate the need for funding for us to be able to make stories and tell stories that speak to our specific experiences. This is a time for us to come together to utilise our shared knowledge, our shared experience, our contacts, our networks to ensure that the right women who understand what it is to create laws that are fit for purpose are sitting in the room and articulating our issues, so that we can make a change now.” 

/43. Reform film schools

Chi Tai, producer and co-founder of BEATS
“When I think back now about film school, I wish there was a moment where we talked about women and race and class, and disabilities and everything. Put those on the centre stage and create context. At film school I didn’t have that..I actually came to understanding who I was much later in my life, and I think that’s because in school, in film school, in the world, there isn’t this culture where we talk about these things.” 

/44. Critics and journalists should also take responsiblity

Anette Svane, filmmaker and researcher at Lund University
“I urge film critics to take a look at their own practice and question, their own hidden biases, especially with regards to what kinds of filmmaking and aesthetic expressions they highlight and prefer. The film canon has been and continue to be dominated by men, and certain forms of filmmaking…Women, and other marginalised groups to a large degree, have been excluded from participating in forming the canon.” 

/45. The job of curators and programmers is to champion a range of perspectives

Heitor Agusto, programmer
“I approach programming as a disruptive role. It’s an opportunity to forge community and belonging…The world of moving images is also about us, that world also has space for us…we need to change the notions of centre and periphery. Concentrate your attention on the periphery.” 

/46. Forget the “helping” mindset

Valerie Creighton, president and CEO, Canada Media Fund
“What I’ve noticed in a lot of the conversations is that the words that come up are ‘favour’ and ‘help’ and ‘we want to bring these people to the table’ which for me really is evidence of that unconscious bias that we all learned in our language, because we don’t have the history, because we don’t have the experience, and we really don’t have the sensitivity. This isn’t about helping. […] This is about something quite different than that approach.” 

/47. Stories can lead to new ways of thinking 

Professor Karen Boyle, Strathclyde University
“Changes in representation don’t only follow changes in reality, they can also lead the way. So if we can change the way we think about things, the stories that we promote and the language we use to talk about them, that is part of this bigger picture. That’s an activist act.” 

/48. Remember the power of storytelling 

Alexandra Grey, actor and trans activist
“My part as an artist is to get into those rooms and fight to show more positive images of us. I wonder what it was like when I was a young trans woman, and didn’t have the language or the words to express who I was. I wonder if I saw someone like me or if I saw a show like Pose on television, I wonder what my life would be like and how many more lives we could have saved, and how many more people we could have saved from from transphobia and from hatred. Media and film are so important…we have the power to the shift that mind focus.” 

/49. Champion the next generation

Janaína Oliveira, academic and programmer
“We have a whole generation of filmmakers in Brazil doing films and changing the film industry profile. In terms of creativity, that’s not something that was given to us. It was conquered. There is a generation now doing films and I do believe they will pave the way for other generations to keep doing films.” 

/50. Think long-term

Sandra Laronde, Red Sky Performance
“We have inherited a colonial structure and, to this day, it is in full operation and what are the ways that we can dismantle that or shift that is something that’s really important… I think about how we embed value-centered ideas and content that is meaningful and transformative, and how do we plant seeds now that we won’t necessarily enjoy the fruits in our lifetime? How can the thinking be long term?”