Last year, a study conducted by the Los Angeles Times revealed that, among the major studios, Warner Bros. hired the least women directors. An embarrassing claim to fame, period, but especially in light of the increasing number of headline-dominating conversations about gender in Hollywood. The studio behind Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” is taking a step towards making their company more inclusive by launching a program for new and underrepresented directors.
The Warner Bros. Emerging Filmmaker Workshop is a nine-month intensive fellowship program where the aspiring directors will have a chance to hone their skills and talent. They’ll be partnered with Warner Bros. executive mentors who will guide them throughout the film production process. At the end of the program, the filmmakers will unveil their work in a film festival on the Warner’s lot. Attendees will include agents and executives from the industry.
This year’s fellowship will include five filmmakers, and each of their budgets will be around $100,000.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that, according to the studio, “the program is designed to recreate the features production process on a micro level. The workshop will have participants pitch, write or work with a screenwriter and develop a script for a short film (3-10 minutes). Once they have a final script, filmmakers will work with physical production to prep, create a budget, cast, shoot on the lot and edit with a full post-production process. The studio will cover all production costs and salary for filmmakers for the duration of the Workshop.”
This sounds like an amazing opportunity for burgeoning filmmakers who need a foot in the door.
“We wanted to have more diverse voices; it’s a better way to connect with our diverse audience and with the world,” said Greg Silverman, president, creative development and worldwide production, Warner Bros. Pictures. He then acknowledged the fact that structural inequality affects the hiring process, and explained how the program aims to address this issue: “There were logjams way down the line before we even saw people.We wanted to start at the first step and give people a leg up, to address the system holistically.”
To be clear, the Warner Bros. Emerging Directors Workshop is not for women exclusively (unlike the recent class of the Fox Global Directors Initiative). In this case underrepresented seems to refer to both gender and race. People of color are of course underrepresented behind the camera, particularly women of color, and we applaud any efforts to increase the number of women of color directors.
This is important for many reasons, especially the fact that when an underrepresented director is at the helm of a film or a scripted episode on television the diversity onscreen increases 17.5% (according to new research from USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative).
[via The Hollywood Reporter]