The movie industry both in Hollywood and Canada appears to be on the brink of radical change, as it vows to end its historic domination by white males.
Gender equity and diversity are the watchwords, as everybody from the Oscar-awarding Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to Canada’s National Film Board pledge to shake up how movies get made, who gets to be in them and who wins the shiny gold prizes for them.
The NFB recently put its money where its mouth is by committing to have at least half of its productions directed by women and half of all production spending allocated to films directed by women. This goal will be achieved by 2019, the NFB said, and the promise can be verified: budget allocations will be posted online through the board’s NFB.ca website.
This is impressive stuff, and it is to be applauded, even if the issues and promises are anything but new. A lot of this change speaks of better days to come, or “jam tomorrow,” as the White Queen offers Alice in Alice Through the Looking Glass, the literary classic soon to be a major motion picture with an all-white lead cast.
What impresses me more are people who just get on with the job of making movies more democratic, rather than waiting for big studios and government-funded agencies to get their acts together.
I’m thinking of groups like We Make Movies Canada, the defiantly Canuck offshoot of We Make Movies, a 4,000-member Los Angeles collective of indie filmmakers, actors and screenwriters started in 2009. The Canadian chapter, WMM-CA for short, commenced in 2012 in Toronto thanks to the efforts of Newfoundland actor Michael Coady (TV’s Republic of Doyle), who serves as executive director.
The idea behind WMM-CA, which has 850 active members and an online community of 3,500, is to bring together people from all aspects of film and from a wide spectrum of race, age, gender and experience to just make productions happen.
These are people who just want to create, without waiting for the phone to ring or an email to arrive from some larger entity…