Promonews - 13th July 2020

Over 100 filmmakers of African-American, African-Carribean and African backgrounds have launched Change The Lens, a new pledge to increase diversity at all levels of the commercial and music video production industries. 

Directors Rohan Blair-Mangat (above, top right), Savanah Leaf (above, top left), Calmatic (above, bottom left) and Karena Evans (above, bottom second left), and producer Alli Maxwell (above, bottom right) are among those leading the initiative set up by the Black Filmmakers Collective to have creative companies commit to increase Black representation of their director rosters, and department heads and crew on shoots, to at least 15%, which is approximately the proportion of black people in the population of the United States and London.

Numerous leading production companies have now signed the Change The Lens pledge, which launched last week, including Academy Films, Biscuit Filmworks, Caviar, COMPULSORY, My Accomplice, Object & Animal, Prettybird, Pulse Films, Smuggler, Somesuch, Stink Films and The Sweetshop. Several talent agencies that have also signed up, and numerous producers, EPs and directors.

The pledge requests commitments from both companies, and individual producers, directors and heads of department to ensure that representation is no less than 15% on both talent rosters and specific jobs, and that is reflected through the chain of command. For example, producers are pledging to have no less than 15% black representation in the heads of department on a production, while the heads of production are pledging to have no less than 15% black representation in the crew they employ.

The Change The Lens initiative also emphasises the role of the head of diversity and inclusion, who will act with companies and individuals to ensure that these goals are reached.

The complete pledge, differing slightly for each industry, reads:

Production Company Pledge
15%+ Black Directors On Roster
Consult With A Head Of Diversity & Inclusion

Talent Agency Pledge
15%+ Black Talent On Roster

Producer Pledge
15%+ Black Department Heads And Crew On Every Job

Director Pledge
15%+ Black Department Heads And Crew On Every Job

Department Head Pledge
15%+ Black Crew On Every Job

Says Alli Maxwell, EP at Florence: “For far too long production company hiring practices have allowed for exclusion and bias particularly along racial lines. Acknowledging racism exists and continuing with business as usual is not an acceptable option anymore when there is clear and overdue work that needs to be done regarding racial equality and equity in production.”

“Hiring more Black heads of department and supporting Black filmmakers will empower them to tell their stories, provide varying perspectives, and ultimately bring through the next generation of Black talent,” adds director Rohan Blair-Mangat. “Alongside our partners at Bid.Black and Sporas, we are creating a community with the resources to inspire and enact change. The industry has not done enough to hold itself accountable. Now is the time to take action. After all, actions speak louder than words...and black squares.”

Notes Savanah Leaf: "We’re asking for what we have always deserved: an opportunity to be the voice of our own stories.”

Photo above: (Top row left to right) Savanah Leaf, Jason Harper, A.V. Rockwell, Rohan Blair-Mangat - (Bottom row left to right) Calmatic, Karena Evans, Isiah Donté Lee, Alli Maxwell​

• View the CHANGE THE LENS pledge website here 

​• More about the role of a head of diversity and inclusion here

Promonews - 13th July 2020

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