Warner Brothers has a new program that it claims will "give a boost to new and under-represented filmmakers."
For the past two years, the lack of diversity in Oscar nominees has resulted in #OscarsSoWhite. Now, Warner Bros. has announced plans for the Emerging Directors Fellowship Workshop, which will team young directors with studio executive mentors. The mentors will guide the filmmakers' projects through a premiere on the studio lot, where agents and other creative execs will be on hand.
Greg Silverman, WB's president of creative development and worldwide production, told The Hollywood Reporter that the program is "really for anybody who is looking at the system and saying, 'The unfair part is that I can’t even get started.' So get started with Warner Bros."
Accepted filmmakers will participate in a program that will cover all aspects of feature film production, from pitch to final cut, with the end result being a short film of three to ten minutes and an eye-popping budget of $100,000. The accepted filmmakers will be doing their work on the storied Warner Bros. lot, and the studio will cover all costs above and below the line.
"When you have an opportunity to be inside the system, you get the support in marketing and distribution. It's a different offering than when you're trying to make important or culturally sensitive work from the outside."
While indie films have always been more culturally diverse and daring, they never receive the wide exposure of Hollywood films (unless, that is, they are acquired or distributed by a studio).
Stephanie Allain, producer of Hustle & Flow and former Columbia exec (where she supported John Singleton's Boyz n the Hood) said, "It's so important to have support at the studio level. When you have an opportunity to be inside the system, you get the support in marketing, distribution. It's a different offering than when you're trying to make important or culturally sensitive work from the outside."
While it's possible to view this development as politicking, it will at least give young filmmakers a shot that they wouldn't have otherwise had. And, in the end, movies are a business; it might not really matter what the motive is, so long as change is effected.
Be sure to check back here for more information on the application process as it is announced.