New Incentive Program Is The Answer To Hollywood's Diversity Problem

A newly launched program for independent filmmakers called Kickstart Diversity is making headway in increasing diversity in film both behind the scenes and on screen.

Following Viola Davis’ profound Emmy award speech about the lack of roles for Black actresses in Hollywood and Matt Damon’s controversial debate with Effie T. Brown about diversity on a film set; it’s hard to ignore the fact that there just isn’t enough diverse representation in TV and film.

But, all that is on the verge of changing with the new Kickstart Diversity program that aims to boost the visibility of women, people of color, and LGBT people in film and television – both on screen and behind the scenes.

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Media company, Big Vision Empty Wallet is responsible for this groundbreaking incentive program that was just launched Monday.

“It’s wonderful that the inequality in Hollywood has become a more mainstream conversation recently,” said producer and co-founder of Big Vision Empty Wallet, Alex Cirillo, in a press release. “The industry needs programs like ours to incentivize companies to work with ‘minority’ filmmakers to help make it easier to get their work made and seen.”

Kickstart Diversity offers discounts and access to resources throughout each stage of production for film projects involving underrepresented groups.

The program’s list of inaugural projects includes a film called After the Storm produced by famed black filmmaker, Spike Lee.

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“I think there’s currently still a misconception that films and TV shows created by women or created by a diverse population are not successful, they don’t make money, people don’t want to see them. And that’s just wrong,” Cirillo reportedly said in an interview with Slate.

“Data backs it up that audiences really want to see diverse points of view and diverse life experiences, so we’re hopeful that a program like this, that helps at the independent level and supports more diverse filmmakers who are creating work independently, will then also translate to seeing more diverse characters and diverse points of view on screen," he added.

When asked by Slate what is the most common mistake people make when talking about diversity in Hollywood and execution, Cirillo said that those conversations are typically “problem-oriented” in the sense that people complain and throw out negative statistics but there’s not much talk about real solutions.

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By providing filmmakers with better access to vendors, service providers, distribution labs and other resources this new incentive program could be just the type of feasible solution the film industry needs to get diverse, independent productions off the ground.

With a respected figure like Spike Lee already on board, it could really take off and be the beginning of a much richer experience for viewers as well as up-and-coming filmmakers.

Furthermore, no one can tell someone’s story better than them. So, while creating films that involve a culturally diverse cast it’s essential to also have a culturally diverse production team who can actually speak to the experiences, lifestyles, customs, etc. of a particular group. Not to be the spokesperson for everyone within that group, but to offer a more true-to-life perspective.

Check out the Kickstart Diversity website to learn more about the program.  

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