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At the EFM, experts seek the benefits of equity data collection and inclusion policies


- BERLINALE 2022: The panel shed light on the importance of these tools as a means to guarantee equal opportunities and the development of a fairer film industry

At the EFM, experts seek the benefits of equity data collection and inclusion policies
l-r: The BFI’s Industry Inclusion executive Melanie Hoyes, and Mike Musante and Leo Matchett, respectively co-founder and CEO of Decentralized Pictures

On 11 February, the European Film Market (10-17 February) hosted a panel titled “Monitoring Inclusion: New Pathways for Equity Data Collection,” moderated by the BFI’s Industry Inclusion executive Melanie Hoyes.

After a quick introduction, the floor was given to Diego Briceño, Programme Lead, Equity and Inclusion at the Canada Media Fund. Briceño explained that when he joined the fund, he asked on his first day about what was the current situation, but back then the only puzzling answer he received was: “We don’t know.” He thus realised that extensive research and data collection were urgently needed. During the live broadcast of the panel, he asked the audience to self-identify on an external website – a number of answers came in (for example, “mixed,” “European,” “cis-het,” “White,” etc.) and all of them were related to one or more aspects of one’s culture, religion, sexual orientation and citizenship. Following this brief interaction, he said that everyone applying to a programme organised by the fund is encouraged to self-identify. He stressed on the fact that it’s not something compulsory, but this allows many to benefit from specific incentives: “Knowing gives us a lot of strength and allows us to make objective decisions,” he said.

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In a pre-recorded video, Adam Smith spoke about The Everyone Project, an innovative diversity measurement tool. “Our mission is to help everyone put their hands up and be counted. [...] We believe good diversity measurement must be easy and engaging with strong privacy, security and stakeholder support,” he explained. He said that the software collects sensitive personal information without sharing with the producers and illustrated how projects can be registered on the platform. To put it simply, the producers fill in drop-down menus with their cast and crew information, adding their contact details: “Once the project is verified, this information is used to invite cast and crew to participate in a short voluntary survey, and this typically takes 2 minutes.” The language and the available options are culturally-specific, varying from country to country. Currently, the participation rate ranges between 40-50%, a figure that has been defined as “very positive for an exercise of this type.” Answers are encrypted and encoded, so even the software’s holders cannot access an individual survey.

Later, Joshua Kwesi Aikins, Senior Research Scientist for Germany’s Citizens For Europe, talked through his study titled “Policy-driven Strategies for Inclusion in Film Production and Funding.” In terms of pay gap in Germany, for example, one of his slides shows how it is wider in the directing and camera departments and how it increases further when it comes to ethnicity, gender and disabilities. He also talked about casting and creative powers and he said that even though the local film industry does not look “as diverse as German society,” many different categories are being represented. However, he pointed out that many are reluctant to openly talk about their true self – they don’t disclose their gender identity, for example, fearing negative repercussions – which implies that there is “an untapped potential” and many more efforts are required to reach true equality and inclusion. Interestingly, he also shared a slide outlining what measures are considered more effective to fight discrimination and promote diversity by German filmmakers. The survey shows that 97% of the respondents wish for “clear consequences for perpetrators,” 96% for “faster option for action in acute cases” and 94% for “nudity or nude scenes to be framed by binding appointments and rules established beforehand, in line with Directors UK’s guidelines 'Directing Nudity and Simulated Sex.'"

Finally, Mike Musante and Leo Matchett, respectively co-founder and CEO of Decentralized Pictures, spoke about how their non-profit fund addresses the lack of diversity and inclusion by focusing on the support provided to up-and-coming filmmakers. The premise is that the source of these issues is the result of centralised decision-making practices in the industry - “typically Hollywood” - resulting in a heavily hierarchical, patriarchal system wherein one’s success is often determined by how close that person is to powerful people and money. Decentralised Pictures is an ecosystem where, through blockchain technology, the large world of film enthusiasts can affect said funding decisions, giving access to financing and resources to those who deserve it and nurturing a new, more diverse generation of artists.

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