March 15, 2016

Warner Bros. to Create Director's Workshop to Address Diversity in Hollywood

Warner Bros. Picture Logo No Film School Diversity Workshop
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.     

Your Comment

28 Comments

Does this include Latinos, or Asian Americans, or Native Americans, or Indians, or Middle eastern ethnicities?.... or is it just white and African Americans back grounds, because thats what's considered diverse.

March 15, 2016 at 6:54PM

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Wait...so can anyone sign up?

March 16, 2016 at 1:14AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644

"Anyone" can sign up to be fair, but I'm pretty sure they'll favor minorities in the selection. Good for them.

March 16, 2016 at 7:19AM

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How will they verify? By the name? How much of a certain race do you need to be?

I'm 1/4 Italian and 1/8 Native American. Will it come down to your headshot? (Makes appointment at tanning salon). I feel like the Irish in me is going to keep me out of the running...damn!!!

My wife has more Native American than I do and her name is "Marika". Her skin is a pleasant shade of bronze. Think she will be considered "too white" to apply? You want to talk about persecuted and underrepresented. Native American man. She doesn't know how much she is, would we need actual proof (bookmarks Ancestry.com)? She looks "not white". I think that is the key. I have never thought of her like this until now, weird. She looks more brown, than anything. Cool!!!

I just need to know: What ethnicities. What shade of color. How much of an ethnicity.

Pure bloods only? Will half bloods be considered?

Very intriguing. How fun. It's like trying to verify your Powerball numbers. Hopefully one of us has the right color of skin. I think my wife is brown enough.

(re reads comment)

I just don't know anymore. Will that be considered "racist" in 2016? Am I even allowed to discuss something like this openly? Is it wrong to say "My wife is brown"?

Fuck it. I'm poking the nest.

(hits the POST button)

March 16, 2016 at 12:18PM, Edited March 16, 12:41PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644

It seems anytime a scholarship, an award or opportunity is awarded to a woman or minority, there always comes people that allude that he/she or others like him/her may have been taken advantage of or skipped over for a minority.

No Luke, your comments are not racist, but is it wrong to try and improve, seems like doing nothing would be racist. To your point yes most in America are Mutts but some live with it more than others. And no there is not a perfect way to quantify that.

Lets get real WB is making a low risk attempt at trying to improve diversity.
(In the end it probably wont help due to prejudices in America.)

March 16, 2016 at 1:24PM, Edited March 16, 1:32PM

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My point is that when it comes to Hollywood, we all live with it.

It's an exclusive club and the most common denominator is not the white skin. At least, that is not the common denominator that creates the lack of diversity.

As a non Jewish white mut, that doesn't live in LA, I could tell you what the common denominator is, but it would be politically incorrect of me. :)

If it was the white skin, I sure could name off a lot more white filmmakers that never catch a break than I could POC. We have a YouTube channel with 100K subscribers. I can pull this kind of data in a heartbeat.

Mostly white, mostly not catching any breaks or getting any opportunities. That's reality at a sample size of 100,000.

March 16, 2016 at 2:02PM, Edited March 16, 2:22PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644

Sounds like perspective to me because I know plenty of people of all races getting skipped over.

Not sure of your location because it can play a factor in this goal, but maybe make it a goal to work with/or network with more POC/women in the industry, at some capacity. Because they are out there. It might give ya broader perspective.

Also, its the big picture, society needs for its growth and maturity to start seeing more women and POC represented on-screen and in jobs/pay which were not previously an opportunity to those groups.

Of course there is no easy button or simple way to achieve a more diverse industry organically, but objecting to an honest attempt seems to be going in the wrong direction.

March 16, 2016 at 3:27PM, Edited March 16, 3:28PM

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It's YouTube, the data pool is from all over. Location is irrelevant.

My main point is that everyone that isn't "in" is trying to break in. White people are not given special treatment because they are white. There are many other factors and the color of the skin is just about as irrelevant and off topic as you could get with it. It's creating a problem where there is none.

It would be like looking at the NBA and saying "there needs to be more white guys". No...the best players need to be in the NBA. Most of the best players are black but saying their position in the league is dependent on their skin color is short sighted and frankly...pretty racist.

My younger sister is a composer and if you want to talk about disparity...it's even worse there. I told her one time "you know, you could use the fact that there are no female composers to your advantage". I was partly kidding mind you. Partly. :)

She absolutely refused. She KNOWS there is no bias towards men. It is an exclusive club that she is simply not a part of yet. Due to skill. Due to experience. Due to connections.

It is a league just like the NBA. The best get in and it is ultra competitive. White people receive no preferential treatment. Are there exceptions? Always. I'm not saying it doesn't exist...I just don't think it's a system wide problem that needs CONSTANT attention.

It's a non issue. Deal with it like all of the white people that don't get in either. You're not good enough and you need to try harder. I have to tell myself this, every SINGLE day.

I have never received a handout. I have had to fight for every inch and every dime.

That's the way it goes for everyone that isn't "in". Regardless of skin color.

March 16, 2016 at 4:00PM, Edited March 16, 4:26PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644

Luke,

I'd like to jump in here. Your privilege gives you the hubris to say such things as "I just don't think it's a system wide problem that needs CONSTANT attention." Look at the stats on the lack of diversity. The same logic is applied to police violence against black folks. Well. I don't have a problem with cops, so. Get outside yourself and your white experience. The problem with your line of thinking is you seem to believe that people of color don't have the skills or the intelligence to begin with, and I think that is a systemic problem, a white supremacy ideology. I see the same reaction when it comes to discussing affirmative action. Never mind that systemic racism has kept people of color out of every major institution in this country. For me, there is no "regardless of skin color" I can walk outside tonight and be at a very real risk of being shot by a cop. You on the other hand, are not. Just because other people are given opportunities, doesn't mean something is being taken away from you.
Malik

March 16, 2016 at 6:46PM

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I guess we agree to disagree. Things are not as simple as ya make them seem.

It almost seems like you are implying classism and racism are still not alive?

"Deal with it like all of the white people" Ha,ha really? I hear just as much bitching from white males. If thats dealing with it, I would hate to see yal mad.

I feel the NBA analogy is very weak, black people were not allowed to play in major sports leagues until they proved to be better than whites not just on par but exponentially better. So is that what has to happen in the film industry by that logic? Black people have to light 5 times better than Deakins and be 10 times quirkier than the Coens?

It is a system wide problem, otherwise WB would not be doing this initiative and the academy would not admit it needs improving. Its not just Hollywood with the diversity problem, its commercial, advertising and corporate work as well.

I also don't believe it gets constant attention, the two previous years it was barely mentioned.

I will just say there are certain classes in the world that are afforded more experiences and more connections due to where they were born or if born into certain families. Those classes have certain demographics that heavily favor a certain groups of people. We can agree there, right?

Isn't that basically a hand out? You are basically afforded more just because of circumstances. You did nothing to deserve but ya got it.

By that logic in America wouldn't the average white male have a better opportunity than an average anybody else?

Not saying it to bitch just cold hard facts. And there are many reasons for this, that is probably too heavy for this forum.

I was born in a higher socio-economic class than the average public school kid. It defiantly put me in a better position to succeed. Like most ppl born in that class I reaped the benefits of my parents success. I didn't earn it nor did I deserve it. I took the cards I was dealt and played the hand but Im aware that I was given a good hand and want to see others get a fairer shake, especially those who were not dealt the same hand.

Any handout given by a scholarship or a apprenticeship pales in comparison to being born in a above average socio-economic class.

Again I ask does it hurt to see others given an opportunity? (BTW, this is not a great opportunity) Do you feel you are being passed up? Or is this just another display of the white man getting trampled on?

#makehollywoodwhiter

March 16, 2016 at 6:55PM

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Absolutely doesn't hurt to give everyone an opportunity but, like I said, those opportunities are already there.

I do think Racism is mostly dead and has been for a while. Are there a few ancient execs left over from older times? Sure.

Now your statement about class I can get behind. IMO that is the most important factor. Could that be tied to race? Of course. But that still doesn't mean the actual skin color is the common denominator.

Its just too easy an answer for such a complex problem.

Again, the NBA in the 60's might have been a weak analogy. We are decades and generations removed from those times. Most of us didn't even experience them.

I don't have a problem with diversity but I put fairness far above it. Diversity just for the sake of diversity might not be fair. If it was, there would be more white guys in the NBA. Movies, like sports, are a huge entertainment conglomerate. They put the best product on the floor and they should.

March 16, 2016 at 7:15PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644

With respect, I don't think you are in a position to tell if racism is dead since you are least likely to suffer from it. The BBC conducted an experiment a while ago, they sent out CVs for jobs with a English/caucasian sounding names and subsequently with names from minorities. The comparatively scored so low it was unbelievable 9%-13% - same level of experience on the CV, only difference was the names. So you can imagine how I feel when you come with no evidence except your word that Racism is dead. I am black and don't really think affirmative action solves the problem on a deep level but please make your point respectfully and not in a patronising way. REF - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3885213.stm

March 18, 2016 at 10:57AM

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Kayode
1039

One last thing. I don't have a problem with equality. I personally feel like racism is gone and things like this stir it up. That is the crux of my issue. I have no chips on the table here. I made a career for myself outside of the industry.

Ultimately, I want everyone to get a fair shot...white people included.

You don't think the lower class is mostly comprised of white people?? The cry of equality comes because one skin color seems to dominate when that just isn't the case. Its more complex than that.

Attributing it to skin color is juvenile and short sighted.

March 16, 2016 at 7:23PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644

I assume ya don't watch the news often?

As a person of color I absolutely know racism and classism is not over.

I have talked to many people of different shades and creed and the overwhelming consensus agrees that those ugly traits are still alive.

I have witnessed it, been falsely accused, and pre-judged many times because of my race. And I promise you I am not the guy running around accusing everyone of being racist.

But discrimination still happens, this is America and this is still earth, nothing revolutionary has happened in many decades regarding this issue, it didn't just magically heal it self, ya know.

If ya have any minority friends ask them their opinion on the matter. Without being condescending and respecting their opinion, you might be surpised by the way they see the world.

March 17, 2016 at 12:57AM

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I don't form any of my opinions based on the news.

There are many reasons people pre judge other people. The clothes they wear. The music they listen to. The way they talk. The car they drive.

I think the R word is thrown around much too freely these days. By any standard of the word, POC are just as racist to people different than themselves.

March 17, 2016 at 2:59AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644

Luke,

How dare you say racism is gone?! Do you not pay attention that Black kids are getting killed unjustly by cops and law enforcement is covering it up? Do you not know that a Republican frontrunner is calling Hispanics rapists and saying they should go back to Mexico?! Your white priviledged keeps you ignorant from the harsh realities out there because you don't have to deal with them. Your sense if entitlement is why you are trying to find some loophole to get into a program that is helping to diversify a industry that has long overlooked people of color. Even Matt Damon acknowledged it. You need to just stop. That is ignorant to say you "personally" think racism is done because you never had to deal with it obviously. People of color have. Your statement is like saying 'I personally think cancer doesn't exist' because you haven't been diagnosed. WAKE UP!!! Get off of your Youtube channel, and I encourage you to talk to some people that have had to really deal with this. You sound a little ridiculous by proclaiming that people are trying to stir things up. You made a way because you don't have the same barriers as people of color, plain and simple. I honestly don't believe you are a proponent of diversity because you can't even acknowledge that the problem even exist. True change can't come until everyone works on this together.

March 17, 2016 at 9:38AM

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By Lukes argument, maybe the black actors are not good enough.

March 18, 2016 at 11:01AM

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Kayode
1039

Mmm...read again. Not even close to what I said. Anywhere.

April 12, 2016 at 3:54AM, Edited April 12, 3:54AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644

I stopped at "Your white privileged". Again, what privileges? Do you personally know me? Do you know what my life has been like? Know where I've been? What I've seen? Who I've talked to?

I'm not pulling these thoughts out of my ass on a whim. These are based on my life experiences thus far, 32 years and counting. Traveling a lot. Working with a lot of different people.

There are plenty of facts and studies out there to show that Black on Black crimes are the most prevalent. Same as White on White. Is Racism technically alive? Yes, absolutely. The KKK is still around. BET is still a channel.

My point is that it does not exist in middle America and especially those under 30. It just doesn't. If you had any sort of pulse on a large group of people you would know this (hence...my comment about YouTube.)

April 12, 2016 at 5:18AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644

You thinking personally that racism is gone, goes to show you what you don't to go through racist based aggresions. Maybe you should watch some news, and look at the trump rallies in each city.

March 20, 2016 at 3:45AM

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Luke,

Do not look past the fact that ONLY 6% of the top 600 films were done by African-American directors and it is not because they aren't trying to direct or putting in the work, it is because some of the people providing those opportunities because they are making assumptions based on the color of their skin. This is not an obstacle you have to deal with that makes you privileged. It is one less obstacle you have to deal with. Think of the movies like "Exodus Gods and Kings" directed by a white director and all leading roles were by whites and the only time when you see people of color is when they play slaves, but historically, all of those people they were portraying were of color. When you take someone that is white, and have to paint him to look like a person of color just to sell some tickets (which it still didn't help that film) that shows how deep institutionalized racism goes. Once again, you don't have ALL of the same obstacles as a person of color, face it. Yes, everyone deals with the issue of funding or getting the right connection, but people of color deal with that AND getting disregarded because of skin color. Most of the world is made up of people of color, Hollywood is over 90% white. Even in the U.S., people of color make up way more than 10% of the population.

March 17, 2016 at 9:26AM

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Luke,

To figure this out you have to honest with yourself and ask if when you fill out an application somewhere do check the box that says "white/Caucasian" as your ethnicity. Does your 1/8th Native American makeup make you confident to say you are a Native American over white especially when you are in the presence of Native Americans? Go by the majority of your makeup and what ethnicity you confidently define yourself as. A lot of people has some small percentage of some other racial makeup, but in the place of conversations regarding race, they still call themselves white. Also, being Italian is still white in public dialogue. If someone has roots in Kenya or Zimbabwe they are still labeled as "Black" because of the color of their skin. So in the eyes of the world, nobody considers you to be anything other than white if your parent were Polish, Italian, or German because even though each of these nations have people with different shades of skin, their features are vastly different from someone that is Latino, Asian, or Black. It's like you being a Nikon and I am a Canon and you trying to claim you're not a DSLR just because you have a different lens mount.

March 17, 2016 at 8:55AM

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One less obstacle I have to deal with? People have the wrong impression about "white people". Ever been in meth towns? I grew up in White Trash country and I can tell you that the color of your skin gives you no "head start" or preferential treatment.

It's class based.

Is there still Racism? Yes, as I said, there are always exceptions. There was just a KKK rally in LA that got violent a few weeks ago and BET is still on the air. Yes, racism exists. I'm talking about the general populace though. Most will judge you on many other factors first...all of which are class based.

Per the people that still hold onto racial prejudice, they are not Studio execs. They are hicks. They will judge anyone and everyone. They hate anyone that is different than them. I would get the same treatment with my hipster haircut.

They do not make up the general populace and they don't hold exec positions at movie studios...lol.

March 17, 2016 at 9:50AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644

wait don't you work for RED? If so, I'm not shocked. Some of the folks in that company... You're ignoring the systematic racism that exists in our country. Minorities guaranteed are more systematically oppressed than caucasians. They face micro aggressions every day, and are less then 10% of working film industry professionals. If you feel your statements are correct, please send us a link of the statistics you read

March 20, 2016 at 3:38AM

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Again....follow the money. If you have enough talent and bring enough to the table, and work hard enough you will be successful. Maybe you are that and still not successful? ... well maybe there is just not enough of a market for what you do or excel in. We live in a financially driven world, it is what it is....

March 17, 2016 at 3:01PM, Edited March 17, 3:01PM

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I guess no one told the slaves on the plantations they should have worked harder to become as rich as their owners.

March 18, 2016 at 11:03AM

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Kayode
1039

'

March 19, 2016 at 9:20PM, Edited March 19, 9:32PM

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Justin McLaughlin
Director/Writer
67

To Luke (and anyone else that shares his views), you CLEARLY don't understand the nature of bias. It sounds like you think you have a pretty good handle on it but, I assure you, you don't. I know this not only by the way you're talking but also because science is still working to figure it out. A recent study revealed that 70% of whites and 50% of blacks have an anti-black bias. If 50% of blacks can have one, so can you. It's a very complex issue that's extremely dependent on SUBCONSCIOUS thoughts and beliefs. I believe you mean well but you're not even aware of what you're not aware of. You also strike me as someone who doesn't mind a little research, so I've provided some educational links below.

A recent article concerning bias, specifically implicit bias:
http://bit.ly/1U9seGK

A recent article about aversive racism and sexism:
http://bit.ly/1Rr0YMX

An article and video about the famous Doll Test (keep in mind, these are young children that have internalized a bias):
http://bit.ly/1TnKIkL
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkpUyB2xgTM

And finally, a link to the Implicit Association Test (IAT). If you dare, see how well you and your brown wife fare on this and get back to us:
https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

March 18, 2016 at 12:00PM, Edited March 18, 12:04PM

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Brian...I can assure you that the issue is not simple enough to say "I'm wrong" or "I'm right". If there was one logical, all encompassing answer we would not be having this discussion. Don't write off my opinions as a misunderstanding just because you don't share them.

April 14, 2016 at 3:53PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2644