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Breaking the mould: Joel Honeywell’s Hue-List directory of crew of BAME origin in UK/EU now expanding to US

Breaking the mould: Joel Honeywell’s Hue-List directory of crew of BAME origin in UK/EU now expanding to US

David Knight - 2nd Mar 2021

The Hue-List, launched by top DoP and diversity activist Joel Honeywell late last year, has established itself as the go-to directory for crew of Black, Asian, Arab and Mixed Heritage origin in a matter of months – and has now extended beyond the UK and Europe to America.

Established in November 2020 to help film, TV, commercial and music video producers working in the UK and EU find crew from BAME backgrounds, the database run by Honeywell (above, with young future cinematographer) has quickly compiled contact details of more than 400 professionals working in all parts of the industry – from camera and lighting to post-production – since its launch.

After discussions with colleagues in the US, Honeywell is now opening The Hue-List to American regions as well as the UK and Europe. The database looks set to become an increasingly valuable resource in helping producers and companies looking to increase diversity among crew. It’s an objective that many are committed to achieving, having pledged to the Change The Lens initiative, that launched in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, to have at least 15% of crew from non-white backgrounds to reflect wider society.

I put it into spaces where people could see it... and basically had 300 people sign up overnight.

“I want to break the mould and make it easier for Black and Brown trained and experienced crew, that have had, or are having trouble breaking into spaces that they’ve been actively structurally shut out from,” says Honeywell. “I was once in this space, and I realised early on that people following the same path as me, were not being afforded the opportunities if you looked different.

“The industry is a tribal space, it's about who you know, and sometimes, who you know might not like you in their space, or has a preconception or unconscious bias. There are so many talented and brilliant individuals, from non-white heritage, who don’t have the access to these spaces because of this type of nepotism, and are at an immediate disadvantage... these people become alienated, lose confidence and tend to give up. This Hue-List exists, to change that.” 

Having previously launched Sporas in 2019, which began as a WhatsApp group for Black filmmakers and has grown into a non-profit organisation run in the US, Honeywell launched The Hue-List in 2020 to focus upon the directory function, so it works like a diary service for producers.

It began with a social media campaign, with Honeywell stressing that it was free to join. “I was just putting it into spaces where people could see it, on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere – and then I basically had 300 people sign up overnight.”

Since that initial burst, he has been getting an average of two or three people a day applying to join the list. “They are usually working technicians, and now mostly people I’m unaware of,” he says adding that he has vetted and approved each application before adding names and contact details to the list.

The Hue-List now has individuals listed under seven headings: Camera, Grip & Lighting; Sound; Art, Costume, HMU & Props; Production, Locations, Management; Post-Production; and Emerging Crew/Trainees.

The success of the new initiative has been confirmed by the endorsement of the APA, who have now added it to their list of the official crew lists with established diary services like Suz Cruz and Wizzo.

Honeywell says that this support is significant to the aim of the initiative. “It’s a place for companies, producers, and heads of department to find options. So that they can work towards making this an industry that’s not geared just to serve one community, but for a diverse world. That’s the goal.”

As a very busy Director of Photography, Honeywell currently devotes part of his weekend on the upkeep and additions to the List. With expansion to include North American non-white professionals, the work enters a new phase. Ari Brown, an agent at Artistry, who used to work for Keslow Camera Rental Inc, will now looking after the US side of Hue-List operations.

In the long term Honeywell says that, as well as serving this purpose as a production resource, he hopes that The Hue-List can increase its reach and influence once the world returns to greater normality. “I have ideas about what I want to do with it – training programmes, outreach projects for kids who have no means to help them get into the industry.”

He says that a visit to his school by a cameraman had a profound effect upon him. “I had no idea such a job existed before he came to the school. I made sure that I found out more, through talking to my careers officer, about how to make it my career. I want more kids like me, who didn’t know about it, to realise they also have a chance to make a career working in film.”

• The Hue-List is here

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David Knight - 2nd Mar 2021

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