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OPEN DOORS - Make This Moment Into A Movement: The Power of Diversity Master Workshop Rides The Crest Of The Wave

Posted By Sasheen R. Artis, Monday, February 4, 2019

2018 proved to be a year of tectonic shifts for our business—from #metoo, #timesup and the rediscovery of inclusion riders, to a wave of successes featuring diversity on the screen and behind the scenes. Worldwide, audiences proved that if we produce authentic stories featuring fully developed and representative characters, they have the money to spend, delivering an all-time high $41.7 billion global box office. Now 2019 presents us with the opportunity to make this moment a movement.

Whether reality, documentary, video games, television or film, the stories we choose to tell and the crew and cast we hire need to reflect what our world truly looks like. It’s time to break the myth that hiring by “merit” or “excellence” means hiring the same people you’ve always worked with. There are plenty of excellent folks in our industry that you haven’t met. Additionally, to ensure the success of these stories, inclusivity and representation need to exist in every facet of our business—distribution, marketing, strategic planning, finance, business affairs—everywhere. Once these factors work in concert with each other (including stories, crew/cast, executives, agents, managers and financiers), we will see significant and consistent success over time. Fortunately the Producers Guild of America has been at the forefront of these changes.

2019 marks the 15th anniversary of the Producers Guild of America Power of Diversity Master Workshop. The Workshop is a free eight-week summer program that offers master classes in pitch and story development, film finance, line producing, demystifying the TV writers room, agents and managers, packaging and multi-platform content delivery. We work with emerging and mid-career producers and also provide them one-on-one mentoring with PGA members. Many of our 180 alumni have gone on to great success—winning awards, show running series and making amazing films.

Past speakers have included current PGA President Lucy Fisher, Lori McCreary, Gary Lucchesi, Bruce Cohen, Mark Gordon, Bruna Papandrea, Marshall Herskovitz, Shonda Rhimes, Damon Lindelof, Paris Barclay, Caryn Mandabach, Lindsay Doran, Luis Barreto, Ali LeRoi and Bonnie Arnold. Open to PGA members and nonmembers, the goal of the Workshop is to teach producers how to pitch and package their projects for the marketplace. Only 10 projects are selected each year.

So how can you be a part of the movement? Find a fresh and authentic story to tell. Build a diverse team that can help you realize your vision. Work with companies who know how to reach new audiences and will fully support your efforts. If you would like additional support, consider applying to the Power of Diversity Master Workshop, either as a mentor or as a participant. Our industry is poised on the brink of change and each of us has an important role to play.

Sasheen R. Artis is a writer/producer and Co-Chair of the PGA Power of Diversity Master Workshop. For more information and to get involved, visit pgadiversity.org.

- Photo: 2018 Workshop participants and mentors, including current PGA President Lucy Fisher (dead center, behind desk), celebrate graduation.

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