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Produced By April/May 2018
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All Voices Welcome - From The Presidents

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 16, 2018

In the wake of #MeToo, it feels as though our industry is finally beginning to grapple with its history of discrimination on multiple fronts, including ethnic and cultural prejudice as well as gender bias. As producers, our inclination is always to be pragmatic: beyond merely acknowledging that the entertainment business has, in the past, been neither as fair nor as inclusive as it ought to have been, what can we do about the problem? How can we correct our course and create an industry we can be proud of?

To us, the answer lies in playing to producers’ strengths: bringing people together, guiding the conversation, and providing our passionate support to the voices that can connect with the biggest possible audience. For example, on April 5, the PGA presented the inaugural edition of its “Producers on Producing” series, featuring a screening of Black Panther followed by a Q&A with a remarkable collection of guests, including the film’s costume designer Ruth Carter, Black Panther comic-book writer and PGA member Reginald Hudlin, and author/UCLA lecturer in African American Studies Tananarive Due, moderated by PGA National Board member Yolanda T. Cochran. The astonishing box office success of Black Panther has been the movie business’ story of the year, and the opportunity to explore the film’s themes and the implications of its success alongside its journey to production was one that our Guild jumped at being a part of.

After all, for ten years now, the PGA has been building a reputation for putting together vibrant assortments of industry leaders at its annual Produced By Conference. Nine months before Frances McDormand used her Oscar platform to call for inclusion riders on future contracts, Produced By 2017 attendees could have heard Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay pointedly discussing and promoting the goal of inclusivity among film and TV crews, especially at the department head level. This year, the Produced By Conference welcomes such rising talents as showrunners Justin Simien (Dear White People) and Lena Waithe (The Chi), speaking as part of the event’s “Powerful Voices” session, as well as Charles D. King (Mudbound, Fences) who will share his insights as a producer of inclusive stories as part of the event’s film financing panel.

Building a truly inclusive industry means walking a long road. Hollywood’s institutional prejudices have been quietly doing their damage for over a century, and it’s going to take a collective effort bigger than just the PGA to achieve an industry-wide degree of parity. We see that challenge as a reason to get excited, rather than discouraged. You’ll find a similar spirit among the ranks of our dedicated volunteers serving on the Guild’s Diversity and Education committees, as well as the PGA Women’s Impact Network (WIN). We’d like to offer those members, especially our tireless committee chairs, our personal thanks, and look forward to saluting them by name in next month’s issue. As a group, producers aren’t daunted by ambitious goals. 99 out of every 100 projects made started with the odds against them. But every producer knows that if you can bring enough people together, guide enough conversations in the right direction, and provide passionate support to enough talented voices, anything is possible.

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