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- Inclusion Playbook | Amazon Studios | cc:DEIA
We all carry biases, conscious or unconscious, that can build barriers and create inequities in the workplace. The work of diversity, equity, and inclusion requires all of us to disrupt those biases, and the longstanding customs and practices in the industry, in order to achieve real, lasting change. This work is not easy to do, but don’t worry, we’re in this together. Explore the Inclusion Playbook below. Reporting Resources Production Casting Hiring BTC Storytelling We are excited to work together to achieve the aspirational goals set forth in the Amazon Studios Inclusion Policy (“Policy.”) We all want to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion on our productions and sets, but doing so requires intentional practices that may not yet be in place. We created this Playbook to help disrupt the biases that occur across the lifecycle of a series or movie, from the first inkling of a concept to viewers streaming the content on Prime Video. By using the Playbook, you should gain an understanding and resources to meet the Amazon Studios Inclusion Policy. The Playbook will help you think about your story, casting, crewing up, and how to track and report your inclusion successes. Industry-first Guide to Inclusive Productions We view this as an evolving document that we will update and change over time. Although the Playbook can’t address every question or concern that may arise in the creative and hiring process, it offers tools and resources to guide decision making. Given that some of the language in this Playbook may be new or unfamiliar, we suggest reading over the Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity factsheet to improve your familiarity with these topics. The ultimate goal of every production should be to build a talent pool and hire individuals with skill sets that enable them to execute on the story on time and within budget. This isn’t about “giving people a chance”; it’s about hiring the best and most qualified person for the job taking into account both their work and lived experiences. Make Inclusive Decisions while telling authentic stories and hiring the best people for the job Know where to go for help including tools to make inclusive decisions Identify Criteria for making informed and consistent creative choices Foster Curiosity and ask questions to disrupt the status quo about “how things are done” or expectations about what storytellers want/do not want What will this Playbook do? The Playbook is designed to minimize and disrupt biases. Amazon Studios worked closely with Dr. Stacy Smith and Dr. Katherine Pieper of USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, and with Brenda Robinson of the International Documentary Association and Gamechanger Films on the creation of the Policy and Playbook. The Studio also consulted with leading organizations devoted to advancing the visibility and responsible depictions of underrepresented people. Reporting Resources Production Casting Hiring BTC Storytelling "Amazon Studios has long prioritized telling innovative and inclusive stories from a diverse range of creative talent, delighting our global audiences. We wanted to move beyond good intentions to creating mechanisms that hold us accountable to a high bar. This Inclusion Policy and Inclusion Playbook adds important, additional depth and guidance for our internal teams and external partners to ensure we continue to advance our shared mission of amplifying the best creatives and content around the world." Latasha Gillespie Head of DEIA, Amazon Studios, Prime Video, IMDb
- Resources | Amazon Studios | cc:DEIA
Resources Staffing & Crewing Tools Array Crew ARRAY CREW provides film and television hiring managers access to crew members with diverse backgrounds. A database founded by Ava DuVernay. Crewvie Crewvie.com is the leading global platform and database for Productions, Studios, and Artisans. Free The Work FREE THE WORK is a curated talent discovery platform and database of underrepresented creators. Made In NY The “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program helps low-income New Yorkers get their foot in the door of the dynamic world of film and television. Made In NY Post The “Made in NY” Post Production Training Program prepares low-income, unemployed, and underemployed New Yorkers for entry level opportunities in the post production industry. Staff Me Up Staff Me Up is your #1 source for production jobs in Los Angeles, New York and nationwide. Streetlights Streetlights mission is to assist talented and motivated young adult minorities, many economically and socially disadvantaged, to achieve long term economic stability and career success. Additional Resources A recent guide to stereotyping and counter stereotyping in storytelling from the Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity (TTIE) helps understand and identify tropes across identity groups. Check out their Tips for Accurate Representation here: African Americans , Disability , Migrants , Criminal Justice , Latinx , Muslims , East Asians , Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders , South Asians , South East Asians , Women and Girls . Amazon Studios has partnered with other studios and experts in the creation of the Mental Health Media Guide , a resource for content creators designed to help expand positive mental health portrayals. This tool can support storytellers at any phase in the production process, across a wide range of mental health themes and topics. Please feel free to suggest any additional resources or services you think would benefit this list by completing the form below. Tools & Information We have a growing list of resources we provide access to our partners in order to support the inclusion aspirations set out in the inclusion policy. This list will continue to grow, check back regularly, or feel free to suggest anything you feel may be missing. Amazon Studios has relationships and partnerships with industry experts that have built programs and tools to support underrepresented talent. Below are a few of those and we encourage you to actively engage; either via a license we can provide to you, by hiring talent from them, or by using them to consult on your content. Tools & Information Staffing Resources Additional Resources Back to Top ↑ Reporting Resources Production Casting Hiring BTC Storytelling
- Pride 2021
Previous Next Rewatch Amazon Studio’s celebration and reflection of Pride. This event dives into intersectional LGBTQ+ representation on screen and behind the camera, and how we can change the narrative to create more inclusive stories. Speakers Betsy West , Director of My Name is Pauli Murray Dolores Chandler , Equity Facilitator & Trainer at Build from the Heart, featured in My Name is Pauli Murray Daniel Reynolds , Editor-in-Chief of Out Magazine Eli Wilson Pelton , Co-Producer on “With Love” Jonathan Butterell , Director of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Julie Cohen , Director of My Name is Pauli Murray Krit , Writer / Host / Consultant / Advocate For Change, on Pacifica Pride: A lens on Pacific Islander Culture of Queerness Max Hardwood , Actor starring in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Monica Transendes , Director of Programs, Spanish-Language and Latinx Media at GLAAD, on Queer Representation on Film in LATAM Tracy E. Gilchrist , Editor in Chief of The Advocate Tre Borden , Principal of Tre Borden / Co., on Impact of Contemporary Queer Artists of Color Vernon Sanders , Co-Head of Television, Amazon Studios Will Graham , Co-Creator and Executive Producer for “A League of Their Own” Performances Exclusive performances from some of our favorite Drag Queens including Kandy Muse , LaLa Ri , and Manila Luzon . Pride 2021 June 25, 2021 at 7:00:00 AM Rewatch Amazon Studio’s celebration and reflection of Pride. This event dives into intersectional LGBTQ+ representation on screen and behind the camera, and how we can change the narrative to create more inclusive stories. Events & Learnings cc:DEIA's events dive into the history and data of inequities in Hollywood, and ways we can change the narrative across our productions.
- Amazon Studios | cc:DEIA
We Power Inclusive Storytelling Amazon Studios and Prime Video is a home for talent of all backgrounds, and we are working to tell stories that represent the joy, depth, complexity, and drama that exists across our world. Join the Customer & Content: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility team as we unite with our creative community to tell these stories more inclusively than ever before. Industry-First Inclusion Playbook Dive deep into cc:DEIA’s Inclusion Playbook—the industry’s first definitive guide to help ensure diverse and accurate storytelling. Explore the Playbook Engage and Grow Events & Learnings Our events dive into the history and data of inequities in Hollywood, and ways we can change the narrative across our productions. Discover Events Building the Future of Entertainment Programs & Pathways We’re proud of our strategic partnerships to help create pipelines for future executives, showrunners, and writers from historically excluded communities. Learn More
- Celebrate Black VOICES
Previous Next Join Prime Video and its Diversity Equity and Inclusion team for a virtual event that highlights people, stories, and leaders who illuminate the joy and the change required for Hollywood to truly invest in intersectional diversity. Featuring Arica Shimizu Banks Cori Murray Dr. Darnell Hunt Guy Torry Jazz Tangcay Latasha Gillespie Luenell Reginald Hudlin Shoniqua Shandai Tracy Oliver Zainab Johnson Celebrate Black VOICES March 3, 2022 at 8:00:00 AM Join Prime Video and its Diversity Equity and Inclusion team for a virtual event that highlights people, stories, and leaders who illuminate the joy and the change required for Hollywood to truly invest in intersectional diversity. Events & Learnings cc:DEIA's events dive into the history and data of inequities in Hollywood, and ways we can change the narrative across our productions.
- Reporting | Amazon Studios | cc:DEIA
Reporting Delivery of Plans At the Greenlight phase, Studios creative execs should deliver plans for how the content will aim to achieve the goals set forth in the Policy – allowing Amazon Studios to consider what additional resources or support, if any, might be required to achieve the expectations of the Policy. Production Tracking Production demographics should be reported to Amazon Studios within one month of completion of filming a movie or series. In general, information should be obtained for all individuals who were involved in the production and were paid directly by the company. People who work for vendors should not be part of the reporting protocol; vendors will be subject to a different reporting process. Amazon Studios DEI will outline these details with each production. Note that information provided to unions in the process of reporting can be used in place of self-report data. The DGA, SAG-AFTRA, and other unions may require reports to be filed that include demographic information about the people from the union who have worked on your production. This information (provided to the union) may also serve as a reporting mechanism for the purposes of meeting the Policy. In addition to reporting data on individual contributors to a production, you will need to supply a report that indicates the diversity of the suppliers and vendors who provided services for the production. For this report, indicate the number of suppliers used on the production, and the number and percentage that were women-owned and minority-owned businesses. For each area of reporting (e.g., above-the-line, below-the-line, credited actors, vendors), indicate whether the Policy goals were met, surpassed, or missed. When the goals were missed, provide information on where and why you found it difficult to meet the goals, any obstructions that arose in the process, strategies you used, etc. Finally, provide an overall report of the project successes and challenges related to inclusion. Were there steps you took that could inform and benefit future Amazon Studios projects? Delivery of Data Amazon Studios cc:DEIA will provide the template forms for collection of self-reported demographic data. The final report on the diversity of individuals who contributed to the production should be submitted to Amazon Studios within one month of completion of principal photography. Please reach out to your creative executive or production manager for more information. Overview The Policy specifies that productions need to deliver plans to achieve the policy prior to principal photography, and after principal photography has been completed. For all productions working with Amazon Studios, we will work together to deliver plans and report on the efforts to achieve the aspirational goals in the Policy. Tools & Information Plans Tracking Data Back to Top ↑ Reporting Resources Production Casting Hiring BTC Storytelling
- Home | Amazon Studios DEIA
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- Inclusion Policy | Amazon Studios | cc:DEIA
We work to consistently delight all segments of our audience. We aim to do this in two ways: First, by seeking out stories that amplify the voices of characters across race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability (including mental health), body size, gender, gender identity, and gender expression. Second, by bringing these often underrepresented or misrepresented characters to life in an inclusive production environment. Amazon Studios’ Inclusion Policy covers four key areas Stereotyping Historical Depictions Cultural Authenticity Stereotyping We discourage stories that solely depict harmful or negative stereotypes, slurs, and dehumanizing language related to identity as well as narratives that link identity factors to jobs, religious beliefs, social class, or behavior We encourage pitches, scripts, and stories from storytellers of all backgrounds, including those from underrepresented communities. Consistent with our Content Guidelines, Amazon Originals should reflect the wide diversity of our customers and recognize the dignity of all people by avoiding demeaning stereotypes and harmful tropes. For this reason, characterizations based on race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, disability (including mental health), body size or image, age, gender, gender identity, and gender expression should be made with care, and in each case will be subject to an enhanced review. Developing Stories and Characters Casting Behind-the-Camera Below-the-Line Roles Cultivate an Inclusive Environment Casting The story comes first. The Inclusion Policy recommends casting characters from all backgrounds, as long as it does not compromise the authenticity of the narrative. For example, when a movie or series focuses on a particular racial/ethnic group, or is set in a homogenous context or location, it will be exempted from the requirements to diversify casting. Amazon Studios is committed to authentic portrayals. It is our intention, whenever possible, to cast actors in a role whose identity aligns with the identity of the character they will be playing (by gender, gender identity, nationality, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability) and in particular when the character is a member of an underrepresented group/identity.To reduce invisibility in entertainment, and where the story allows, we aim to include one character from each of the following categories for speaking roles of any size, and at minimum 50% of the total of these should be women: (1) lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender non-conforming / non-binary; (2) person with a disability; and (3) three regionally underrepresented racial/ethnic/cultural groups (e.g. in the US, three of the following: Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Middle Eastern/North African, or Asian / Pacific Islander or Multi-Racial). A single character can fulfill one or more of these identities. Most productions have a multitude of speaking roles, from leads to smaller roles. Where it doesn’t compromise the authenticity of the story, the minimum aspirational goals for casting across speaking roles are 30% white men, 30% white women and non-binary people, 20% men from underrepresented races and ethnicities, 20% women and non-binary people from underrepresented races and ethnicities. Where we can have more people from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, we will seek to do that. These goals apply to open casting roles as well as talent attached to the project at the time an agreement is signed with Amazon Studios. We also aspire to cast at least 10% of our roles with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender non-conforming / non-binary; and 10% with people who self-identify as a person with a disability. Amazon Studios is dedicated to making a good faith effort to inclusive casting and we encourage our partners to do the same. We believe in pay equity. Our expectation is that cast members will be paid commensurate with their work experience, the scope of their role, and equitable to the compensation of their peers. We will not consider an individual applicant’s prior pay history in setting compensation. All auditions, sets, and casting calls should strongly encourage people from underrepresented communities to apply. Auditions and sets should be accessible to individuals with disabilities per federal, state and local requirements. If any of these aspirational goals are not met, the external partner may be asked to submit a description of the steps that were taken to achieve these goals. Creative teams are required to submit detailed plans for auditioning and casting to ensure that candidates from underrepresented communities are considered and hired. The plans must also outline strategies for how the production will cultivate an inclusive environment. The Inclusion Playbook has details to support building these plans. Hiring and Production Reporting and documentation provides Amazon Studios with an understanding of (1) plans outlining how the production intends to meet the expectations of the policy; (2) whether inclusion expectations were met on an Amazon Studios production; and (3) an explanation for any impediments that were encountered in an attempt to meet the aspirational goals. Amazon Studios creative teams will partner with productions to deliver the following reporting for each film or show: Reporting & Documentation Delivery of Plans Prior to principal photography, Amazon Studios and partners will work together to deliver their plans for how they plan to achieve the Inclusion Policy. Behind-the-Camera Amazon Studios will provide a report template for each company to indicate whether the expectations were met. This report must be submitted within one month of completion of principal photography and will include: i. Gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability data on production-specific, above-the-line talent (Directors, Writers, Producers, Creators, credited actors) as well as below-the-line positions (department heads and seconds.) ii. A full description of the film and episodic content that’s been created (i.e., storyline), and percentage or number of characters identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender, including non-binary, and those with a disability. iii. The number and list of diverse suppliers hired for the production (including women-owned and minority-owned businesses). Inclusion and equity are accomplished by adopting reparative processes, employed with intention, to produce a meaningful and sustainable result. This often requires a willingness to work above-and-beyond baseline demographic totals and percentages, where feasible. Our demand for greater accountability, to hold ourselves to a higher standard of representation both on screen and behind the camera, is meant to be constructive rather than punitive. We want our content to reflect the diverse communities we serve around the world. Commitment to Accountability “With the establishment of our Inclusion Policy and Inclusion Playbook, Amazon Studios has committed itself to being a thought and action leader in the transformation of our industry. We know how much work there is to be done to improve representation both on camera and behind the scenes, and it starts at home, with us. With clear directives and a commitment to accountability, these guides provide a path toward a more equitable future, both on- and off-camera.” Jen Salke Head, Amazon Studios, MGM
- Amazon Studios and AMC Networks Partner to Support Deaf Creatives of Color
Previous Next Amazon Studios and AMC Networks have partnered with Deaf Talent Media and Entertainment Consulting (DTMEC) on the creation of the Deaf Talent Creative Lab (DTCL). The new initiative will work to provide Deaf people of color with skills to further their success within the entertainment industry. The inaugural DTCL will host two simultaneous tracks for teenagers, age 13-19 years old, with another for adult industry professionals. The upcoming residential program will run from July 12 – 27, 2023 at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Ga. The DTCL will provide attendees with tools, guidance and assistance in developing creative proficiencies — including instruction from industry experts in screenwriting, acting, production classes, marketing, pitching and self-taping. In addition, attendees will receive networking and mentorship opportunities. “As more Deaf actors appear on screens, we have become aware of a hunger ifor their unique stories to be told through writing and production” said Jade Bryan, DTCL founder. “My goal is to empower Deaf creatives, teaching them how to participate in that storytelling and how to navigate the industry.” Amazon Studios will host a writing lab for those participating in the youth track. The writing lab will run from July 12 – 28, and feature master classes, panels and additional training sessions. “By curating specialized educational and development opportunities during the Deaf Talent Creative Lab we can remove some of the barriers to entry for these young writers,” said Jerome Core, Amazon Studios’ head of US & WW DEIA content. AMC Networks’ creative executives Nikki Love and Ashley McFarlin, will be leading sessions on how attendees can utilize their practical skills to break into the industry. “Creating more space in television and film production for diverse creatives of all life experiences has been a personal priority of mine since I started working in this industry,” said McFarlin. “From the moment we were introduced to Jade, I have been inspired by her dedication to empowering the deaf community and breaking down barriers to carrier pathways in our industry,” added Love. “We are honored to be an accomplice in this critical work.” To register for the program, visit https://www.deaftalentcreativelab.com . Amazon Studios and AMC Networks Partner to Support Deaf Creatives of Color Charna Flam Variety June 1, 2023 The new initiative will work to provide Deaf people of color with skills to further their success within the entertainment industry. Deaf Talent Creative Lab Press Room Stay informed with the latest updates on press releases, media coverage, and exciting event announcements.
- Women Innovating Hollywood
Previous Next Prime Video today announced VOICES: Women Innovating Hollywood, a one-day virtual event uplifting the voices of women in entertainment, both in front of and behind the camera, in celebration of Women’s History Month. The event will include group panels, lightning talks, a replay of the SXSW special performance from the Big Grrrls from Lizzo’s (Watch Out for the Big Grrrls), and a fireside chat. Women Innovating Hollywood May 9, 2022 at 7:00:00 PM Women Innovating Hollywood, a one-day virtual event uplifting the voices of women in entertainment, both in front of and behind the camera, in celebration of Women’s History Month. Events & Learnings cc:DEIA's events dive into the history and data of inequities in Hollywood, and ways we can change the narrative across our productions.
- Hiring Behind the Camera | Amazon Studios | cc:DEIA
Hiring Below-the-Line Hiring Directors Hiring Creatives & Writers Hiring Producers Hiring Behind-the-Camera Long-Standing Teams Hiring for behind-the-camera positions often relies on a line producer’s network of personal contacts, particularly for department head positions. This often means that unit head positions are comprised of individuals who have worked together previously. This closed network system of assembling a team lends itself to bias. While it is easy to understand the allure of working with people who have proven over time to be trustworthy, capable, and dependable, the alternative is also important to consider. By expanding the closed circle of contacts that form a team, innovative approaches, new skills, and fresh talent might be discovered. For line producers working to hire unit heads, several approaches can be used to expand the pool of potential department supervisors. Recruit outside your network. As noted earlier, rather than focusing on the specific person you want to hire, identify the skill set that is required for the role. This may be determined by the parameters of the production itself (e.g., costume designers with expertise on a specific time period; cinematographers with visual effects credentials). Or, skill sets could reflect a candidate’s experience using certain equipment, knowledge of different techniques, etc. The criteria outlined earlier related to training, prior work experience, nominations and awards, leadership history, and prior history of concern can all be applied to unit head positions. Line producers should bear in mind that historical inequities may prevent individuals from underrepresented groups from having the same number of prior credits as those from majority groups. Thus, it may be important to scrutinize and clarify the baseline skills and experience required for each role. Bear in mind that there may be people who are ready to advance into a unit head role after having spent years moving up the ranks. Where possible, consider if it is feasible to provide that opportunity. Rely on tools or colleagues to identify new candidates. Using industry databases, like the new ARRAY Crew database, can help identify people from underrepresented backgrounds who may be available to work on your production. IMDbPro may also be a useful tool for identifying people who have worked on productions that might be relevant to the film or series for which you are hiring. There are limits to the number of tools that currently exist to identify crew members from underrepresented groups. However, relying on your network of contacts and making it clear you are specifically recruiting with inclusion in mind can be one way to find people who may be outside your network but available to work on your production. Location-Based Recruiting A second issue that faces line producers in the process of recruiting new talent for unit head and second positions is the location where production takes place. The first issue may be hiring individuals who qualify for union work in the production location. In major production centers this may pose less of a problem than in areas outside the US. However, if your budget supports travel for unit heads to the production, this may expand your options for hiring more inclusively. One aspect of international locations may require special consideration. If you are relocating unit heads to work on your production, recognize that inequity in caregiving responsibilities may be more likely to affect women than men. Is it possible for unit heads who are also parents or caregivers (regardless of gender identity) to travel to production locations with their families? Is it possible for parents or caregivers to work in the production location while maintaining their responsibilities at home? While this may require creativity in scheduling and a change in practice, addressing these constraints may allow for a more diverse set of individuals to accept work on your production. Vendors When you begin the process of selecting a company to provide services for your production, you have the opportunity to create avenues for inclusion. Enacting supplier diversity policies is the best way to do this. As you solicit bids from different organizations, request information about their ownership. Standard practice includes requesting information on business ownership, including whether the business is woman-owned or minority-owned. You may be able to request further information about the company ownership, including whether particular racial/ethnic groups are represented. Including this information during the bid solicitation process will provide a way for you and your team to determine the best vendors to use on your production and to make diversity and inclusion part of the decision-making. Equipment Rental and other Purchases As with vendors, equipment rental and purchasing can be done with an eye toward diversity and inclusion. No matter the production location, consider how you will source the equipment and products needed for your shoot. If unit heads will be in charge of gathering equipment, charge them with determining whether a company is woman- or minority-owned before making purchases. This may be particularly important when tax credits or rebates are involved. If you are spending production dollars locally, have you investigated whether businesses with diverse ownership are being approached to provide equipment? As with vendors, information on ownership demographics can be solicited during the bid process. Consider creating a database or sharing and seeking information from other producers who have worked in similar locations. Doing so will expand the opportunities for new business to provide services to productions, and increase efficiency for future projects. This section has covered a broad array of methods that are useful for diversifying hiring practices above and below the line. The strategies presented here may be enough to help you achieve the goals of the Policy. It’s more likely, however, that teams will need to pursue multiple solutions, use actions we’ve suggested in conjunction with other approaches, and think critically about how to move forward to meet the Policy goals. Intentionality will be the most important aspect of your decision-making. By specifying your intentions and being transparent with your teams, it becomes possible for the production staff to work together to achieve their goals. Resources for Hiring Trainees. Amazon Studios has built relationships with trainee programs that are cultivating emerging talent throughout the industry. Hiring Below-the-Line The Amazon Studios Inclusion Policy has specific above- and below-the-line goals as well as objectives for vendors hired for production. Here, we outline the goals for each of these groups as well as a strategy for fulfilling the Amazon Studios Inclusion Policy. Much of this work may be part of the development executive(s) purview early on in cultivating scripts for film and storylines in series, and we will address some strategies that development execs can use. Hiring Below-the-Line Long-Standing Teams Location Recruiting Vendors Equipment & Purchases Back to Top ↑ Overview Industry groups have been using criteria to determine funding of stories by directors/writers/producers for quite some time. Different criteria are used by groups within and outside of North America to showcase films or select candidates for funding. For example, look at the British Film Institute’s (BFI) Diversity Standards which has compulsory requirements for exhibitors, distributors and festivals as well as for funding. What criteria are important to bringing your story in film or in a series to life? For directors, the criteria may include any or all of the following attributes: training (e.g., education, participation in lab/fellowship at Sundance Institute or another notable independent outlet), prior work experience across the last three years (e.g., episodic directing, pilots, independent films, commercials, music videos), size and impact of previous projects (e.g., ratings, box office, distribution deal in independent space), other roles outside of directing (e.g., 1st AD, cinematographer, actor, writer), point of view of previous stories (e.g., novelty, technical precision), inclusion on screen, reception by critics (e.g., Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic), nominations and awards for story, directing, actors of content directed (e.g., festival recognition, competitive funding, critical acclaim, prestigious industry groups such as BAFTA, AMPAS, Golden Globes, DGA, WGA, Critics’ Choice), leadership style in pre-production and on set (e.g., ability to execute vision, temperament, collaboration, decisiveness, flexibility, hiring inclusively of unit heads/seconds, use of intimacy coordinators if relevant to story), prior history of concern (e.g., hostile work environment, microaggressions or insensitivity to a variety of communities, inappropriate humor). Many decisions in Hollywood focus on the success of the last project. Taking into account only the last “hit” or “failure” results in a decision based on a small sample size. Studies have proven that this type of decision-making can be unstable and can lead to outcomes that either unfairly favor or disenfranchise the candidate. It’s important to consider every candidate’s full body of work, spanning from their training in the space all the way through their most recent film, episode, commercial, or music video. One note of caution: Given the historic inequities in Hollywood, many of the above indicators could favor the status quo (i.e., work experience). As such, those filmmakers and content creators outside of the status quo are often framed as a “risk,” or as bringing less-than-ideal experience to a particular job. It’s important to think through how to counter the bias of one group being advantaged in employment routinely over many others (e.g., gender, people of color, LGBTQ+, disability, any and/or all intersections of these characteristics). It is simply not true that only cisgender white men offer artistic talent and leadership skills. Films directed by men do not score any higher or lower on average in critics’ ratings than those directed by women . The same is true for people of color in comparison to their white peers. As a result, it is important to consider a variety of attributes that include more than just recent work experience. Doing so ensures that new voices, and/or talent that’s been overlooked based on identity, can compete fairly their cisgender white male counterparts. Consider the following points when developing your criteria for hiring directors: Historical inequities in education and access limit the ability of some individuals to meet the standard you’ve set. Design qualifications with this in mind (e.g., do not ask for more than is needed to establish that an individual is qualified). Use terms such as “required” and “preferred” to differentiate what skills are needed for the position (e.g., previous work with motion capture) versus what is optional or helpful for a candidate to have (e.g., general understanding of motion capture techniques). When creating your criteria, be cautious that being overly specific can lend itself to tailoring criteria to one specific person. Instead, use language that allows for you to capture skills and experience but allows for multiple qualified individuals to compete for the job. As noted earlier, stay away from terms like “risky” or “inexperienced” to describe directors, or phrases such as “they can’t handle” the job at hand. These are all phrases that research has shown can marginalize and exclude directors who identify as women/non-binary, underrepresented racially/ethnically, LGBTQ+, and/or with a disability. Identifying Candidates How will you identify candidates for these positions? It is imperative to cast a wide net and exercise intentionality. Build a candidate pool that reflects the inclusion profile you want to meet. In other words, if you hope to assemble a roster of ten candidates, the aspirational goal for a breakdown should be: 30% women/non-binary individuals, 20% underrepresented men, and 20% underrepresented women/non-binary. These are based on percentages of individuals in the US by Census and market availability data. Use both existing and new strategies to create this candidate pool. Seek input from agents and managers, stipulating that the names they provide should reflect the diversity of the candidate pool you want to create. Send lists back if they lack the inclusion that you need. Or go to a different agency or set of agents. Use industry databases to identify potential candidates (see below). Research industry training programs (e.g., labs, fellowships) to find talent. Seek candidates who have complementary skills/experiences (e.g., documentary directors for fictional or episodic content; music video and commercial directors for episodic series). Engage specific organizations to inquire about potential candidates. Here is a list of resources for identifying content creators by gender (women, non-binary), underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, LGBTQ+, and with a disability (listed in alphabetical order): Amplify Database https://www.amplifydatabase.com / Aboriginal Films and Filmmakers https://guides.library.ubc.ca/c.php?g=307204&p=2049476 Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) https://www.capeusa.org/cnwf Film Fatales http://www.filmfatales.org/directors Free the Work https://freethework.com/ Latinx Directors https://latinxdirectors.com/home Lights! Camera! Access! (provides connections to people with disabilities working in entertainment) http://einsofcommunications.com/lights-camera-access-2-0/ ReFrame https://www.reframeproject.org/ Sundance Institute Indigenous Program https://www.sundance.org/programs/indigenous-program The Alice Initiative https://www.thealiceinitiative.com/ The Topple List of Culture Creators https://www.toppleproductions.com/the-topple-list Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity https://www.writeinclusion.org/resources Women of Color Unite’s JTC’s list https://thejtclist.com/ Evaluating Candidates Consult with other decision-makers to agree on the selection criteria and their order of importance. Appoint an individual or committee to ensure the criteria is applied consistently. Review each candidate’s application materials in their entirety. When interviewing potential directors, come up with a standard list of questions to ask each candidate. Asking each candidate to answer the exact same questions, in the exact same order, is a good way to level the playing field. Interviewers should be especially careful about their use of language during the interview process, whether those conversations take place via Zoom, on the phone, or in person. Studies show that priming or activating stereotypes can cause women and people of color to underperform—even in contexts in which they normally excel. This is a phenomenon called stereotype threat . Drawing attention to historic inequities for women directors or people of color in the industry can activate stereotypes that can actually cause decreases in performance. Also, solo status in a group (i.e., tokenism) may cue thoughts and feelings that create an additional cognitive load for the candidate and thus may heighten the likelihood of underperformance. Avoid phrasing like “we really want to hire a woman director for this” or “we think you have the right background to tell this story.” Make sure that, to the extent possible, the people in charge of conducting interviews or hearing pitches reflect a diverse and inclusive population. When you are ready to decide who to hire, first examine the criteria-based scores. Is there one candidate who scores highest? If so, examine how you feel about hiring this candidate. Often, our “gut” feelings about hiring someone who is similar to us on an identity dimension are positive; we like to work with people who are similar to us. Your gut feeling about someone who is not like you may be exactly the reverse. You may feel reluctant to hire someone who is different, even though the criteria you’ve used are in their favor. This is a downside of relying on “how we feel” when making a decision. Are you concerned about the person’s ability to lead a team or show leadership on set? If so, ask yourself what traits you think a “leader” should exhibit. Often, perceptions of leadership align with masculine traits like being “tough” or “dominant.” Consider whether your conception of a leader is flexible enough to include other leadership styles. Are you concerned about working closely with someone you don’t know well? It may be appealing to work with long-standing collaborators or people who are familiar to you. However, think about your end goal for the project. Who have your criteria shown to be most qualified? Perhaps you need to establish clear ways that you will communicate with or get to know the person better before starting production. Are you concerned about working with someone who is culturally different from you? Navigating cross-cultural communication may create apprehension, especially when the stakes feel high. Recognize that the likelihood of miscommunication is higher when there are cultural differences in communication. Make clear your expectations for communication, and work with the other person to understand their communication requirements. Create a plan for how you and the person you are working with will resolve miscommunication, failure to meet expectations, and other issues. Hiring Directors The job qualifications for directors are similar across film and series, though the leadership position varies significantly. Consider skills that are necessary and sufficient to direct and the criteria needed to evaluate those abilities. Hiring Directors Overview Identifying Candidates Evaluating Candidates Back to Top ↑ Overview How will you find the right people to attach to your project? We suggest asking the following questions: Q: What skills or experiences are essential to bringing the story to life? Establish the skill set needed to fill the position. Specify the types of credits, experience, education, samples, fellowships, labs, point of view, and/or other publications needed as evidence of skills or abilities. Think experience and skills, not specific names. Why? It’s natural to gravitate toward the people you’ve worked with in the past and who you already trust. But hiring only known commodities means you’re likely dismissing viable, talented people who may not already be on your radar. It also means that you may not have properly vetted the first people who come to mind if the names arise without scrutiny. Q: What authentic representation is needed in the story, based on the main characters or location? On the important issue of whose story is being told, the question becomes whether the writer’s lived experience needs to match or be informed by their gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, disability, or other factors. The Policy states that: Each film or series with a creative team of three or more people in above-the-line roles (Directors, Writers, Producers) should ideally include a minimum 30% women and 30% members of an underrepresented racial/ethnic group. These aspirational goals will increase to 50% by 2024. On creative teams with fewer than three people, we prefer that at least one Writer, Director, or Producer be a woman and/or a member of an underrepresented racial/ethnic group. A single team member can fulfill one or more of these identities. The intent of the Policy is to help ensure that you have authentic representation within the creative team for your production. Where there is room to hire in the writers’ room or additional creative support, think about the gaps in representation – perhaps even those beyond this list (e.g. LGBTQ+ or disability) – that will help improve the authenticity of the storytelling. Customers may call out a lack of authenticity in the writing or directing process, and that can hurt audience engagement. The National Research Group #Representation Matters study revealed that “four in five Black Americans think it’s obvious when a character of color wasn’t written by someone of that race.” As such, it’s not surprising when stories face backlash due to the writer or director lacking the perspective of the central characters (e.g., Bombshell, Aladdin, and Mulan). Here are ideas for expanding your search to ensure you have a variety of perspectives: Talk with your creative executives, and the Amazon Studios DEI Team! We have relationships with writers from all backgrounds who may meet your needs, and are constantly expanding our networks. If you ask agents or managers for a list of clients, make sure you share the skill sets you have identified as important, and indicate that you would like to consider a range people of all genders, those from a variety of racial/ethnic backgrounds, people with disabilities, and other attributes of diversity. If the agent or manager asks for targets, indicate that the list should approximately reflect the population of the country, based on the latest Census figures. The Writers Guild of America database features writers by gender, race/ethnicity, disability, LGBTQ+ and other identity groups. The Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity lists writers by race/ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, LGBTQ+, and more. Some festivals nurture writer/directors. Explore the list of writers and their projects in the independent space over the last five years, and examine the types of stories they are telling. As an example, check out the Sundance Institute Inclusion Resource Map for a variety of screenwriting labs attached to festival organizations, non-profits, and educational institutions. Many industry groups, nonprofits and advocacy organizations have also culled lists of writers from a variety of backgrounds and experiences: The BlackList Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment Color of Change Disability Media Alliance Project Muslim Public Affairs Counsel National Association of Latino Independent Producers National Hispanic Media Coalition National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Nichols Fellowship Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity (MENA, Asian American, African American, Latinx, Queer, Muslim, Muslim Women, Native, Veterans, Disability, Women & Nonbinary, Women/POC ) Women and Hollywood Q: What should I do if my writer is lacking personal experience or depth with the journey of the main characters? Many of the groups listed above have staff that can serve in a consulting capacity and provide authenticity and nuance to the storyline. Think in advance about how you will pay consultants as well as credit them on the film or series (see WGA guidelines for writers, PGA for producers). For stories steeped in fandom, writers should spend time not only with consultants, but with online communities to learn about the experiences of different groups. Message framing within fandom can be implicitly or explicitly biased. As such, it is important to explore and engage with as many voices as possible to learn the perspective of and understand the values and concerns of different groups. This way, you can decrease the likelihood of causing unnecessary harm. Telling Authentic & Inclusive Stories It’s important to remember the key components of authentic and inclusive storytelling, and avoid common pitfalls when it comes to stereotypes and tropes. All writers – no matter their background or lived experience – have areas to learn and grow and all content has an opportunity to surprise and delight, as well as misfire with customers. How do I avoid negative stereotypes, dehumanizing language, and slurs in content creation? Stereotypes are a valuable cognitive tool which writers often use to help a story move quickly. Some stereotypes are based on aspects of truth or reality. However, stereotypes are problematic when they are one-sided depictions, common tropes, or an extreme version of a group. To learn more, watch author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discuss “The Danger of a Single Story”. Hiring Creatives & Writers You have a story to tell, and your goal is to tell the best story possible. This means developing your script, finding writer(s) (if you don’t already have them), or staffing all or part of the writers’ room. Hiring Creatives & Writers Overview Back to Top ↑ Overview First, let’s discuss producing credits in episodic storytelling that are awarded for work as a writer. Crediting producers may depend on three factors: when in the staffing process they are hired onto your series, their prior experience, and even the negotiation process. At the start of staffing, it may be difficult to determine the precise number of executive producers, co-executive producers, etc. you are able to hire. One method to consider is how much experience you aim to have on your writing team. For example, if you are interested in hiring a team of highly experienced writers, you may recruit differently. A few things to keep in mind: As noted above, make sure your candidate pool reflects the population you want to represent in your staffing. Solicit applications from writers whose previous experience makes them eligible to step into a larger role. Recognize that historical inequities could mean that writers from underrepresented backgrounds may only have titles below the title you are seeking to fill. Use a “blind” submission process when evaluating writing samples. This eliminates the name(s) of the writers you are considering so you can read samples without making assumptions about the writer’s gender or racial/ethnic background. Eliminating the use of background information also creates pathways for writers with disabilities or from the LGBTQ+ community to have their work reviewed without their identity playing a role in the consideration process. Determine the criteria you will use to assign or request titles for writers at different levels. For example, what will be required to assign Co-Executive Producer credits versus Supervising Producer credits? Work with Amazon Studios’ Business Affairs team to understand how titles and credits are allocated per series. Make sure your criteria does not only account for each candidate’s prior experience, but appropriately reflects the level of oversight you want the writer/producer to have on your project. For stories that focus on underrepresented communities, your criteria should include the level of contribution you want the writer/producer to offer when it comes to the community being portrayed. As you build your team, pay attention to where you may be missing expertise and insight into different communities you will portray onscreen. If your story incorporates characters from communities not represented on your staff, you may need to expand your staff to ensure these perspectives are represented. One way to do this is by calling in consultants or consulting producers. Make sure to evaluate how often and under what circumstances you hire consultants. If you find that you consistently rely on outside consultants to advise you about underrepresented voices, ask why you have not made space on your team for these perspectives. Consider that career trajectories for underrepresented creators may be limited by biases and impediments that have historically marginalized different communities. Then ask whether your actions may contribute to these ongoing issues by restricting episode credits or overall position on a series for writers from various backgrounds. The intent here is not to avoid the use of consultants entirely, but to think critically about whether temporary staff positions are the smartest and most effective way to incorporate the contributions of underrepresented writers. The same consideration should also apply to non-writing producers on episodic series or non-financing producers in feature film. Establish clear criteria for awarding each type of credit (Associate, Co-, etc.) based on the responsibilities carried out by the individual in pre-production, on set, in post-production, and in any other relevant arenas. Here, it is important to recognize that individuals from groups that have historically been underrepresented (based on gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+ identification, disability) may also see their contributions undervalued or dismissed as less important. By outlining clear criteria for awarding credits, you can minimize the likelihood that you will overlook important contributions made by individuals from these groups. Hiring Producers Producers play a key role in ensuring that a story moves from script to screen smoothly, and are responsible for bringing content in on time and within budget. Yet research across both film and series content has shown that women and people from underrepresented groups appear more often toward the bottom of producing credits than they do toward the top. In other words, the more prestige a title carries, the less likely it is to be attached to an individual from a historically marginalized community. Hiring Producers Overview Back to Top ↑ Reporting Resources Production Casting Hiring BTC Storytelling
- Asian & Pacific Islander Representation in Film & Media
Previous Next Join Amazon Studios’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team for a lively conversation as we celebrate VOICES: Asian & Pacific Islander Representation in Film and Media , and the one-year anniversary of Amazon Studios’ VOICES event series. Opening remarks by Latasha Gillespie , Global Head of DEI - Amazon Studios, Prime Video, IMDb. Speakers include Jenny Han , Author and Creator of The Summer I Turned Pretty ; and Dino-Ray Ramos , Award-winning journalist and Founder of Diaspora. Asian & Pacific Islander Representation in Film & Media June 4, 2022 at 7:00:00 AM Join Amazon Studios’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team for a lively conversation as we celebrate VOICES: Asian & Pacific Islander Representation in Film and Media Events & Learnings cc:DEIA's events dive into the history and data of inequities in Hollywood, and ways we can change the narrative across our productions.