THE HOLLYWOOD REVOLUTION: HOW EQUALITY BEHIND THE SCENES WILL TRANSCEND THE BIG SCREEN
Get ready for the next Golden Age.
For those of you who keep up with entertainment industry news, you certainly know there’s been an increase in conversations around inclusion and equality. But the behind the scenes is seeing a revamp as well. As Creative Director here at UpCast, recent events have illustrated that a movement towards growth and advancement has arrived.
This October the Casting Society of America hosted the “Future of Casting Tech Event” in New York City. We were joined by seven tech companies, old and new, devoted to making casting director’s jobs easier. While CSA did not explicitly state that the purpose of the event was to push for equal opportunity, it was dully noted that technologies like ours could benefit more than just casting directors.
We provide access and connect underrepresented talent to casting directors.
By establishing these tools as enterprise level, CSA is not only encouraging efficiency but facilitating the presence of more diverse faces on screen.
But this isn’t the only action the society has taken to open doors. Alongside tech, CSA held an open call on October 22 for transgender actors in major cities around the globe — Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Toronto, Montreal, London and Barcelona — according to The Hollywood Reporter. While stories about transgenders have been getting more screen time lately, the issue of cisgender actors playing transgender roles still remains.
Unlike Amazon’s Transparent, the Prime docu-series This is Me instead casts transgender and gender-nonconforming people with their own stories to tell. In our recent conversation with This is Me Executive Producer, Xan Aranda, I was moved by her mission to explore how humans exist in their own bodies. By casting individuals who know what it feels like to be an outsider in their own skin, audiences are being trained in empathy.
Decision makers like Aranda are leading the industry towards a new norm — a norm that, at the current pace, I expect to soon infiltrate all circles of society.
Lately as we know, women in Hollywood are accelerating this movement towards intersectionality. The stories surfacing around Harvey Weinstein are acting as a catalyst for not just female rights, but human equality as a whole. In a recent episode of Girlboss Radio, American television commentator, Gretchen Carlson puts it powerfully, “This is an epidemic. It’s everywhere. It’s in every profession. It’s not just Hollywood and television. It’s waitresses and Wall Street bankers and the military. I mean, it’s absolutely everywhere.”
The action being taken on the red carpet might literally set the stage for what’s not being taken care of on White House lawn. On October 30, the Producers Guild of America announced that the board of directors voted unanimously to ban Weinstein. The organization has gone even further to set an example by creating the Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force which will be responsible for “researching and proposing substantive and effective solutions to combat sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.”
Consider the precedent set.
Alongside that, after our founder, Drew Doyon, presented at the Producers Guild of America’s “Future of Producing Series,” fellow entertainment-tech founders demonstrated a similar commitment to connection – surprising for what is thought to be such a competitive industry.
Hearing from Brian Tan of Wrapal, a location scouting platform with eyes set on helping smaller, independent filmmakers, and Brent Barbano of ShareGrid, a peer-to-peer gear rental company, it became clear to me that the collective goal is to share resources that will get all projects out there — regardless of budget, network or size of the team.
But it would be hard to talk about the future of the film industry without at least touching on the role that talent is playing. In a social media saturated world, where an entire brand can be created around an individual, it should come as no surprise that even trained actors are being forced to rethink their online presence and maximize their audience.
Game of Thrones actress, Sophie Turner, revealed in a recent issue of Porter Magazine, “I auditioned for a project and it was between me and another girl who is a far better actress than I am, far better, but I had the followers, so I got the job,” Turner said. “It’s not right, but it is part of the movie industry now.”
To combat this, the Screen Actors Guid has been hosting Ryan Walker, founder of The Social Media Advantage (TSMA), to teach entertainers how to leverage social media and take their future into their own hands.
While this could seem like nothing but additional work for the actress, the democratization of the industry drives home a tried and true mantra: if there’s a will, there’s a way.
And thanks to technology, there’s many different ways.
Now that the Pandora’s box is open, we can only look forward to the moment when this freedom trickles down to the consumer.
By forcing audiences to be challenged by what they watch on screens, as opposed to detached, Hollywood will encourage society to approach others with an open-mind in their day to day lives.
Unpredictable stories, unorthodox characters, and contemporary perspectives work against judgmental attitudes.
At UpCast, we are thrilled to be part of the revolution and contribute to casting of out of the box actors. Through on-screen inclusion and never before seen stories, entertainment will transform the way we see and interact with others.
Quote me on this one. With Hollywood progressing, our country will follow.