The BFI, together with its Disability Screen Advisory Group, has launched Press Reset.

The second iteration of the campaign calls for the screen sector to change how it engages with Disabled talent behind and in front of the camera.

The BFI  has also announced its new Disability and Visible Difference Representation Panel which will offer guidance to the BFI Audience Fund, ensuring it only supports the distribution of films with “authentic portrayals of Disability and visible difference”

The Press Reset film offers testimony from Disabled creatives about ableism, the different forms it takes and its oppressive impacts. It aims to inspire decision makers in film and television to recognise, tackle and prevent ableism, and offers clear and concise steps on practical ways to “Reset” their practices to establish a new normal for Disabled people in the industry. These steps are: recruit responsibly; engage with the Disabled community; set targets; equal pay; think about access; and be an ally. The BFI also provides an approved list of organisations which can guide and support people to carry out these steps across every stage of production.

The campaign aims to look at issues around access be that sets, cinemas or makeup trailers through to “harmful and offensive depictions of disability on screen, and the perception that working with Disabled talent is difficult and expensive.

The Press Reset film will also screen at Busting the Bias, a weekend of events and screenings celebrating Disabled practitioners at BFI Southbank running from Friday 3Sunday 5 December.

The introduction of the Disability and Visible Difference Representation Panel will ensure the BFI Audience Fund only supports the release of films with “authentic portrayals of Disability and visible difference, by calling on the expertise of those with lived experience.” Any film seeking support through the Fund that has aspects of Disability in the narrative or where a nondisabled actor portrays a
Disabled character or where visible difference is employed as a shorthand for negative representation, will be subject to review by the panel, whose members will be drawn from the Disability Screen Advisory Group.

This builds on commitments already made by the BFI Film Fund to avoid supporting projects where “cripping up” (the practice of nondisabled actors playing disabled characters) is used, or where visible difference is employed as a shorthand for villainy/negative representations. Moving forward, the Film Fund and Audience Fund will now both adhere to those principles.

Jennifer Smith, Head of Inclusion at the BFI, said: “Press Reset should act as a stark reminder to us all that Disabled representation in our industry is woefully lacking. As individuals, or as part of networks, organisations and businesses, we have the power to instigate change, and Press Reset calls on us all to embrace and implement more inclusive ways of working. And while the Disability and Visible Difference Representation Panel can offer real life interventions in our funding practises, our longer term ambition is for it to act as a model of best practice, which we invite content creators, funders and producers to employ when their projects depict Disabled characters and narratives on screen.”

Andrew Miller, Chair of the Disability Screen Advisory Group, said: “Disabled film and television talent have long been waiting for the screen industries to recognise the discrimination and hurt caused by ableism. So I warmly welcome the lead the BFI offers by embracing antiableism and the global first established by the Disability and Visible Difference Representation Panel. Recognising ableism and understanding appropriate representation are the vital next steps to ensure equality for Disabled people in film and television. I strongly believe the initiatives announced today will assist the industry we all love to ‘Press Reset’.”

Laura Glanville, Audiences Manager, UK Wide Audiences, at the BFI, said: “The introduction of Disability and Visible Difference Representation Panel provides the Audience Fund team additional confidence that our awards are being made to truly inclusive projects. The Panel will act as a mechanism to bring people with lived experience into the assessment process to ensure we don’t support films with damaging, careless or offensive representation of Disability or visible difference on screen. If successful, this model can be rolled out to support other relevant funding decisions across the organisation.

Jon Creamer

Share this story

Share Televisual stories within your social media posts.
Be inclusive: is open access without the need to register.
Anyone and everyone can access this post with minimum fuss.