"The course, in a very practical way, introduces ways to think about unconscious assumptions and behaviors and how to make incremental but significant change in a work environment to make it safer for everyone," says producer Emma Slade, co-founder of the Screen Women's Action Group.
A landmark educational initiative designed to prevent sexual harassment and ensure mutual respect in the screen industry is one of the practical initiatives to emerge from New Zealand's inaugural Power of Inclusion Summit, which wrapped up in the country's capital city of Auckland last week.
The program will hold a free, one-day "Professional Respect Training Courses" tailored for film and television industry heads of department, but open to anyone from the nation's screen sector. Offered from early 2020, the course will address prevention, definitions, disclosures and respectful behaviors in the industry workplace.
The initiative was spearheaded by the Screen Women's Action Group SWAG, an organization established in New Zealand in response to the global #MeToo movement. SWAG partnered on the program with ScreenSafe, which was set up in 2015 to enhance New Zealand's screen industry heh and safety standards.
The ambitious rollout of the program is a response to feedback from successful pilot training courses and forums held last year.
"The overwhelming feedback from the industry forums convened early in 2018 which focussed on initiatives for change was the need for both policy and education," says SWAG co-founder Emma Slade, a New Zealand-based producer. "Policy on its own can be filed, unread, but these workshops mean that the culture change required is explored in a practical and constructive way."
"Our key message is that there is no hierarchy to respect," she added.
The courses will be financially supported by NZ On Air NZOA and the New Zealand Film Commission NZFC. The program is being launched in tandem with the recently wrapped Power of Inclusion Summit, where Slade was among the many panelists and figures to address a broad range of urgent issues related to screen industry representation. Other figures to speak at the event included New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Lord of the Rings producer Philippa Boyens and Blacklist founder Franklin Leonard.
"The course, in a very practical way, introduces ways to think about unconscious assumptions and behaviors and how to make incremental but significant change in a work environment to make it safer for everyone," Slade explains. "One section of the day, for example, outlines the benefits of intimacy coordinators, another workshop practical strategies to avoid sexual harassment, and another, ways of a bystander intervening early. While the focus is sexual harassment, for both women and men, the impact on the problems of bullying and racism become immediately apparent."
The program, and the New Zealand Film Commission's involvement, also furthers the country's current reputation as an international thought leader on issues of inclusion in the screen sector, and society at large.
Said Annabelle Sheehan, CEO of the NZFC during one of the Power of Inclusion Summit's keynotes: "Speaking truth to power has had such huge risks and consequences for those not enjoying privilege — many have walked on eggshells for centuries, I consider conservative correctness to be the most corrosive force against freedom, creativity and equity. If so called political correctness creates a space to question words, then let it flourish."
The director, writer and producer is next in theaters with the romantic comedy 'Last Christmas.'
Paul Feig was feted with the National Association of Theatre Owners' Spirit of the Industry award on Monday night in Los Angeles, becoming the second recipient of the annual honor.
The award was created to mark the achievements and dedication of filmmakers who are committed to the theatrical experience. Director Rob Marshall received the tribute last year.
“When it comes to believing in the full-on theatrical experience, and the magic that ensues when the lights go down in a darkened auditorium, Paul Feig has no equal,” NATO president-CEO John Fithian said in a statement. “For our members to be able to say 'thank you' to Paul for this commitment is a great honor for us.”
The 57-year-old filmmaker is next in theaters with Last Christmas due out Nov. 8, a romantic comedy starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson. Co-written by Thompson and playwright Bryony Kimmings, the Universal film — inspired by a George Michael tune — follows a young woman named Kate Clarke who takes a job as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop in London. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she meets Tom Golding.
Feig, whose résumé includes Ghostbusters, Bridesmaids, Netflix's Someone Great and A Simple Favor , was presented the award during NATO's fall meeting at the Beverly Hilton.
Last Christmas features the music of late British singer-songwriter Michael and Wham!, including new, unreleased material by the Grammy-winning artist. The film was produced by David Livingstone for Calamity Films, Thompson, and Feig and Jessie Henderson for Feigco Entertainment. Sarah Bradshaw executive produced.
Feig is also writing anddirecting the monster pic Dark Army for Universal, and producing the Stella Meghie-directed comedy American Princess, starring Issa Rae, for 20th Century Fox/Disney .
HDR is the new “most important” television technology, and if your TV doesn't have it, you're working with stone-age tech. Just remember: HDR is not an upgrade to 4K, as most recent 4K TVs support HDR — which is entirely unrelated to HD, by the way. Of course, 4K is sort of related to UHD, which is like HD but with more ultra. Anyway, HDR-equipped 4K TVs are undoubtedly better than 1080p displays… which are much, much better than 720p displays. A, B, C. 1, 2, 3. Etc.
If that felt like a lot of information, don’t worry: Trying to keep up with the litany of new tech acronyms that pop up seemingly every year can be dizzying for all but the most diehard of gadget enthusiasts. For most television and film viewers, we just want a screen that can display an impressive image; the kind of screen that displays appropriately inky dark blacks and bright, glossy whites without washing out the overall image. Simple enough.
HDR high-dynamic range is the latest thing in television marketing, and it's more than just advertising hype. But first: Will shows and films look noticeably superior on an HDR-enabled TV? The short answer is yes. The long answer is, well, longer, but surprisingly more straightforward than the nebulous term might suggest.
A traditional television screen is comprised of numerous pixels that can display up to 256 shades of red, green, or blue. Combined, these SDR standard dynamic range televisions can display around 16 million colors. On the other hand, each light on an HDR television can display up to 1,024 shades of those colors, resulting in over a billion potential colors. This allows HDR televisions to display significantly greater variety of colors and shades, which can make softer imagery, such as sand and water, appear much more vibrant and lifelike.
HDR is becoming an increasingly important selling point for streaming services. Disney's upcoming Disney+ streaming service is expected to disrupt the market for several reasons, including the fact that it will offer 4K streaming, including standard HDR and Dolby Vision HDR as part of its $6.99 monthly subscription fee. That reads like a direct attack on Netflix, which requires subscribers to shell out $15.99 per month for the same privilege. Similarly, all of Apple’s original series on the upcoming Apple TV+ will be available for streaming in 4K HDR and Dolby Vision.
Speaking of Dolby Vision, there are two kinds of HDR, and the more expensive version offers even more colors. Although HDR10 is the standard and offers the aforementioned 1 billion colors, Dolby Vision can offer as many as 68 billion colors. It's essentially another visual upgrade, but Dolby Vision-compatible televisions are more expensive than ones that just work with HDR10.
One billion or 68 billion — either are much more impressive-sounding numbers than 16 million, but in practice, it's difficult to visualize the jump in visual quality an HDR television offers without seeing a direct comparison to an older-generation screen. Instead of trekking out to a brick and mortar retailer and doing a side-by-side comparison, consider the difference between watching a video in 720p resolution to one in 1080p. Televisions that boasted 720p resolutions were once considered cutting edge, but videos in that resolution look like blurry messes when compared to content broadcast or streamed with a 1080p resolution.
All the acronyms and technobabble aside, HDR televisions are simply the next graphical upgrade to inch consumers closer to having a cinema-quality viewing experience in their living room. Thankfully, the only real hurdle is price, but even that isn't much of an obstacle for HDR these days. HDR-enabled televisions are becoming the industry standard, and the prices are beginning to reflect that. Although a high-end Dolby Vision-compatible television could set a consumer back several thousand dollars, entry-level HDR televisions are available for just several hundred dollars. Of course, streaming HDR content will require a suitably fast internet connection.
Mainstream interest in HDR has grown recently due to the lower financial barrier to entry, but workers in the film and television industries have had eyes on the technology for years. IndieWire's Bill Desowitz reported on the technology in 2016 and noted that a high percentage of industry professionals were eager to see standards develop around HDR. That said, simply adopting a new kind of technology is easier said than done, as HDR requirements differ for recording projects such as films and television show, as opposed to streaming live events. Given the increasing public awareness of HDR, the widespread application of the technology seems closer than ever before.
Although not all streaming services and content are HDR-enabled, the streaming format will become increasingly standardized as 1080p displays continue to get phased out of the market.
Afton Williamson, a former cast member on The Rookie, has responded to the findings of an independent investigation that found no wrongdoing regarding her claims of racial discrimination and sexual harassment on the ABC series.
“What saddens me the most is that the lengths that were taken to Deceive, Lie, and Cover Up the Truth, were far greater than those made to Protect and Maintain a Safe Working Environment for Employees,” the actress wrote in a lengthy Instagram post Tuesday night.
Williamson’s post came just hours after The Rookie producer Entertainment One eOne released its findings into her claims.
A statement from the company earlier today said: “As a result of the independent investigation, we have concluded that those identified in Ms. Williamson's allegations did not conduct themselves in an unlawful manner or demonstrate behavior inappropriate for the workplace.”
“It was also concluded that the executive producers, including showrunner Alexi Hawley, addressed matters of which they were made aware promptly and in a fair and reasonable manner,” the statement continued.
The investigation “was commissioned” via law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP and investigators EXTTI, eOne said, adding that the probe “encompassed nearly 400 hours of interviews and review of evidence.”
However, Williamson disagreed with the findings and said she found them “heartbreaking.”
“It's Heartbreaking for everyone on that set; Past and Present. And for every Actor out there who Stands in the Face Of Harassment and Discrimination, Assault and Injustice. As a Black Woman, an Artist, an Actor, in 2019,” she wrote.
The actress went on to urge the entertainment industry to better protect its workers.
“We've got to Do Better as an Industry. It's just Talk until you actually Do Something,” she said.
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What saddens me the most is that the lengths that were taken to Deceive, Lie, and Cover Up the Truth, were far greater than those made to Protect and Maintain a Safe Working Environment for Employees. It’s Heartbreaking for everyone on that set; Past and Present. And for every Actor out there who Stands in the Face Of Harassment and Discrimination, Assault and Injustice. As a Black Woman, an Artist, an Actor, in 2019. My Speaking the Truth, Standing up for myself, and Leaving an Unsafe Work Environment, Changed things for a lot of people: Black Women, Artists, Actors, Victims, and Survivors of Injustice and Discrimination; Gave Hope and a Promise that things Will Change; that things ARE CHANGING. And that is Not in Vain. My prayer is that we get to a point in this Industry where we don’t just Talk about it in 2 hour Mandatory Meetings. But we adhere to Keeping the Promises Made to Everyone on every set, Tirelessly Fulfilling their Dreams with Passion and Dedication. In order to Be the Change, I want to see, I will Continue to Work so that Casts & Crews alike finally See Words Align With Action. We’ve got to Do Better as an Industry. It’s just Talk until you actually Do Something. ❤️
A post shared by Afton Williamson @therealaftonw on Sep 17, 2019 at 7:19pm PDT
Last month the actress went public with her allegations on social media, saying she wouldn’t be returning for the second season of the police drama because of problems on set.
“I experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers,” she alleged in an August 4 Instagram post. “During the Season, it continued along with Sexual Harassment from a recurring guest star.”
After the post went viral, Williamson followed it up with a second post naming the recurring guest actor, as well as the hair department exec she alleged sexually assaulted her.
The Rookie co-stars former Castle actor Nathan Fillion, along with Alyssa Diaz, Richard T. Jones, Mercedes Mason, Melissa O'Neil, and Eric Winter. The series was created by Alexi Hawley, who also serves as showrunner and executive producer.
W. Kamau Bell snapped up the Emmy for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program for his show United Shades of America on Saturday night at the Creative Arts Emmys—his third consecutive win in this category.
Accepting the statuette up on stage, he took the opportunity to call out the industry for falling short on inclusivity. “White people,” He said, “I’m asking you to bring more diversity and inclusion on these shows.”
Comedian Bell hosts the CNN docuseries, which explores race-based issues and subcultures across America.
Asked backstage what change he wanted to see, Bell said, “It feels like the same issues I saw with the first season of the show, where I had to work to get people of color behind the camera, Black people behind the camera. It's still not perfect; it’s still not great. So I feel like I have to not only call my team out, but I have to call the industry out.”
Bell pointed out that the issue goes way beyond what we see on television. “You talk about more diversity on screen,” he said. “I still sit in a lot of meetings where it’s mostly white dudes. It’s not about white allies, it’s about white power brokers who want to be allies.”
Bell made it clear that, as a winner, he doesn’t feel he can rest on his laurels. “If I’m going to be about it, I’ve got to talk about it,” he said, “and I’ve got and really represent. It’s not enough for me to get these awards and feel like, ‘Yay, I’m doing something’. As any black person or person of color knows, we have to keep the door open for more people.”
Bell had also said in his acceptance speech that the industry was “full of s–t” for not giving more opportunity to Born This way, which was nominated in this same category. He said he’d spoken to some people from that show on the red carpet before the awards and they had said they didn’t expect to be back next year.
Bell sees this as hypocrisy on the part of the industry. “If this show’s being nominated for all these things, and being shown as this change maker… Born This Way—it feels like these people have been nominated for all these awards, shouldn’t they be pitching more shows, and being out there in more shows, and produce shows, and bring through other stories? Maybe that’s happening to them, but I didn’t get that impression.”
He wanted to reach the widest audience in speaking out in the wake of winning, and said it wasn’t about pushing the people in Born This Way personally. “It’s not to put the idea in their heads,” he said, it’s to put the idea to everybody in this room, because these are the people who actually make TV, these are the people who have the power to have general meetings and to greenlight things.”
He added he really hopes the issues his show raises can change things. “I just hope you have different conversations without me being there.”
EXCLUSIVE: The Anita Hill-led Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality will conduct a survey next month of entertainment industry workers so it can put into place a wide range of strategic initiatives being developed to address the twin issues of harassment and bias. Based on the results of the survey, those initiatives are expected to be launched by the end of the year.
Formed in December 2017 in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the commission is made up of representatives from the major studios, networks, talent agencies, record labels, unions and guilds, and the film and TV academies, all of whom have been involved in numerous meetings of the commission, of which Hill is its chair.
“The purpose of the survey is to give us information,” Hill said in an exclusive interview with Deadline on Thursday. “What we have right now is anecdotal information about what's happening in a number of places, whether it's in an office or on sound stages or in a writers' room or on location. The survey will tell us what kind of behaviors are happening. The ultimate goal is problem solving. We could have just pulled a survey off the shelf, but the commission is just not going to be in the business of doing things just to be able to check a box. We really are trying to engage with what's happening on the ground for people. And then provide responses based on that information.”
Those responses will include a Code of Conduct to cover freelance workers and others not covered by commission members' existing structures; systems for reporting, investigating, and resolving claims of breaches of the code, including harassment and other forms of bias against freelance workers; and anti-bias and harassment prevention training.
Malia Arrington, the commission's executive director, told Deadline that the survey, which is expected to go out in mid-October, will involve “as many industry workers as we can. We'll be engaging the media in the conversation. We are working with those member organizations who are willing to participate and distribute the survey to their relevant workers in the hope that they will be able to take the survey as well. We will utilize social media and we will make the link available through our website. It will be an anonymous survey, which is critically important to give people comfort around taking the survey and to have confidence in its results.”
The code of conduct “is in development now,” Arrington said. “We are developing the drafts. I anticipate that that model policy will be developed by the end of the year. Recommendations for what the reporting and response systems will look like will also be completed by the end of the year. The survey is critical to the entire system design.”
“What we became aware of last year was that there are still a number of workers in the industry who do not have access to a resource that can help them deal with problems of bias and abuse,” Hill said. “At this point we are targeting freelance people, but what we have found is that there is no one definition for freelance people. So what we're saying is that we want to make sure that everyone has a place to go when they face a problem. The inability to understand or know what the resources are can happen because of someone's employment status, but it can also happen because someone is employed, say, in a small production company that doesn't have resources set up to cover them.”
The commission is working with an organization called the Ethics & Compliance Initiative, which is currently finalizing the survey's questions. “The Ethics & Compliance Initiative is an organization that focuses on workplace abuses, and how to provide systems and workspaces that are productive and help people feel safe and secure again,” Hill said.
“The idea of a survey,” she said, “is something that is so important to me because it is very frustrating to hear over and over stories from people who say, 'I literally had no place to go,' or 'I tried to access the system and I just couldn't really figure out how to engage it.' That is one of the most frustrating things I have heard over and over again. And the fact that there are still people out there, in this moment of awareness, where people are now ready to step up and complain about behavior, and the fact that they're still unable to find out how they can do that after you get the courage to do it, is entirely frustrating. And I think it's particularly important because in many cases, we're talking about some of the most vulnerable workers. Not only do they not understand the systems that allow them to wage their complaints, but maybe they're even new to the industry. So they're not sure of what all the resources are out there. And what we're trying to do really is to fulfill our basic mission, which is to identify and establish best practices and solve problems related to harassment and bias and inequality and the lack of diversity in the industry. So we know that our attention has to be placed on the most vulnerable population, which is often those people who just can't figure out how to get their problems resolved.”
Hill said freelancers to be surveyed include actors, writers, directors, film crews, stunt performers and anyone who works for small production companies that don't have human resources departments or other internal systems to deal with harassment and bias complaints. “So when Malia talks about trying to reach out to as many of the people who are in the population that we're trying to reach who don't have resources,” she said, “we want to look at that very broadly and we want to be sure that we're not missing people, because often those are the people who just don't show up on anybody else's radar, and we don't want to miss them because we haven't reached out to the right people to make sure that we have included them.”
The commission is called the “Hollywood Commission,” but Hill noted that its scope is nationwide — wherever industry workers are employed.
“When we chose 'Hollywood,' we were really looking for a shorthand for the entertainment industry, which we know is not just located in Hollywood. We are talking about people who are working in any number of locations. We're not just using 'Hollywood' as a location — we're looking out for people in different locations, because that's where the work takes place. One of the things that when I first got involved in this project was that I started to pay more attention to entertainment, whether it was television or movies — I started looking at the credits. And especially in movies, when you look at the credits, you just realize that there are tons and tons of people who are contributing. And I started thinking about how complex the system is. But we believe that our membership, and the resources that we have within our membership, and the organizations that we're working with...that we will be able to reach people throughout the country.”
“What we've been looking at and what we concluded very early on is that there is no one thing that is going to start to eliminate the problems that really brought this commission together,” Hill said. “And that's true whether we're talking about the code of conduct, or the reporting and response system, or the resources or the training — these are elements of an entire system of response. Just in terms of how we see the reporting system and to make it effective, we may need to bring into place an ombudsperson; we may need to make available counselors for individuals who are trying to navigate the system. It may be that we just need plain-language documents explaining how these systems will be working in terms of investigations of complaints, for example. So those are all of the elements that have come together.”
Hill said that the goal of the commission is not just to uncover abuse and bias in the industry, but also to change the culture of the industry that allowed it to fester for so many decades, and to prevent it from happening in the future.
“Whether we're talking about the survey or the code of conduct or the training or the response system, what we're trying to do is get a sense, not just about the behavior that has happened, but to also engage with a culture that may be supporting this behavior. In addition, you may have systems that support the behavior. But I don't want to give the impression that we're taking a behavioralist approach to this. We're really taking a holistic approach to this, and the survey is just the beginning, and all of these other elements really will have to come together to effect the changes that we want to effect. And we will also be using the information that we get from the survey to establish a baseline of what the behavior is; what the culture is like, and hopefully, what some of the systems are that might be locking into place or protecting the bad behavior.”
The reporting protocols will also include a hotline, she said. “That's another one of those pieces that we're working on, and making sure that it's not just a hotline that people call and that's the end of it. What else do we need to do to follow up on that? What kind of information can we gather from that that will then go back into our other processes — training, etc. — to be able to have something that is an effective whole?”
As for the industry's own response to the #MeToo movement — which includes policies and codes of conduct adopted by SAG-AFTRA, the WGA, the DGA, IATSE and the major studios and networks, Hill said: “I am thrilled, really, that our members are responding. It's going to take everybody in this industry to respond, and to know who their constituents are and to work to make sure that they are issuing rules for new policies and that those policies have teeth in them, so that they have identified specific problems; they know how to respond to them, and they know how to deliver the response. That's really important for us, but we also know that there are people who fall between the cracks and that there must be some effort that will need to be taken on a broader scale. So we are squarely behind the positions that have been taken so far by our members, especially at SAG-AFTRA — I think they have been most forthcoming; the work that has been done by the Writers Guild, starting to collect the stories from their members — that will help inform our work as well.”
Asked if the commission is adequately budgeted to complete its mission, she said: “We have asked our members to contribute and money is coming in regularly. The resources are coming in and we are using the resources that are available to us wisely. So we are trying to be very effective, of course, with what we do and how we spend the money. And we're also trying to be very thoughtful, knowing that we don't have an endless amount of funding. But we have been assured by our members that we will be looking at the budget on an ongoing basis based on what we learn around the survey that we do.”
Changing the industry's culture won't be easy, she said. “History is hard to abandon, and it gets built into the system and can be powerful in the industry. We're not going to be able to change the culture overnight, but it is something that we're aware of as part of what is necessary to really begin to make a shift in what we see happening and know to be the case and what we continue to hear about anecdotally.”
Anita HillWe've got a lot of work to do. ... And I am not naïve enough to think it's going to happen overnight. I know it's going to take a lot of people, and it's going to take the voices of leaders who are willing to stand up and say it's time for a change.
For decades prior to the Weinstein scandal, the so-called “casting couch” was often laughed off as just the way business was conducted in Hollywood. But not anymore. “That this is no longer a laughing matter is encouraging,” she said. “This is the moment. And that's why we're excited about the work that we're doing. We've got a lot of work to do. And just this part of it alone is something new. So we've got a lot of work ahead of us. And I am not naïve enough to think it's going to happen overnight. I know it's going to take a lot of people, and it's going to take the voices of leaders who are willing to stand up and say it's time for a change. And by bringing them all together, that is our goal — to make sure that they are entirely invested in this, because we know that from all the research, whether it's in the Hollywood industry or in any industry — whether it's about harassment or bias or any change that is necessary — the message from the top is what makes things move.”
Addressing sexism and sexual abuse is not the commission's only mission, however. “It includes all kinds of bias,” Hill said. “I don't really divorce bias from harassment and abuse. I think they're all part of the same problem, which in many cases, if not all cases, is about a power imbalance. So absolutely yes — racial, ethnic and religious bias. We have a whole host of things that we know occur because of different identity factors. So when we say bias, we mean to include that. But we also mean to include abuse. People are abused in the workplace, and it's not limited to Hollywood, because of their identity. All you have to do is pick up the newspaper to know that that is the case. So we're taking on that as well. A lot of the focus and a lot of the reasons for how we got here is around harassment as a form of abuse, and I believe it's also a form of gender bias that have limited people's access and their ability to do their work.”
Asked about complaints of ageism in the industry, she said: “In that sense, Hollywood is a reflection of the larger culture, but it's a reflection that then gets presented to the world.”
The commission, she said, is here for the long haul, but it won't be around forever. “We're into it to have effective change, and it does have to happen in the long haul, but in the meantime, what we're trying to do is to put into place things that are sustainable, so that even when we are not here, the systems have changed; the culture has changed, and the issues do not present themselves in the same way.
“The idea that people have stepped up and complained and demanded change — that is a breakthrough in and of itself. It provides us with an opportunity, an opening, to have self-examination, and for us to put in place some things that are long overdue. And so we are looking at this moment as an opportunity and we are trying to fill it with what we believe to be the best practices and establish a better future, not only for the individual workers, but that the work will reverberate throughout the community. We believe that what is good for the worker is good for the industry.”