Speakers at yesterday’s Be You Festival made a case for broadcasters and productions to be held more accountable if the TV and film industry is to be inclusive.
Tying inclusivity targets to senior executive remuneration was widely seen as one way to effect change. Commissioning from production companies that are authentically inclusive was seen as another way to take a real step forward.
Across one-day in five Soho venues, the Be You audience heard from a wide range of speakers, including BBC creative diversity partner Iyare Igiehon, Brazen Productions’ Jules Hussey and director Jordan Hogg.
Joyce Adeluwoye-Adams of Reuters, ITV creative diversity partner Nahrein Kemp, media consultant Aaqil Ahmed, Reverend Peterson Feital, founder of The Haven and Nevision creative director Anne Morrison all contributed to the day of conversations around inclusion, diversity and wellbeing.
Sessions held at Soho’s Dolby Theatre, included a spotlight on disability, with a behind-the-scenes session on upcoming ITV Studios/ Keshet/ Tiger Aspect drama Ralph and Katie for the BBC, which features disabled talent, both in front of and behind the camera.
Despite myriad initiatives and senior leaders with a brief to include under-represented people, repeated reference was made to the reality on the ground being far from inclusive. Productions – always under pressure – are being allowed to side-step quotas and targets. Time is not being allocated to filling out forms that measure diversity in the industry.
Investment needs to be focused on long-term support for bringing people in, and keeping them.
Despite BFI edicts that seek to ban productions from BAFTA eligibility, there is difficulty in pinning down those that fail to make a serious effort to widen their recruitment pool. Recent BBC targets which were originally designed as mandatory, have come into effect without the word mandatory attached.
During the day, sessions included co-founders of youth-driven production company Fully Focused – Teddy Nygh and Nick Bedu – sharing the journey of their production company which has succeeded in bringing through a raft of new talent into the industry.
Film and TV directors speaking at the event included Ursula Macfarlane (Untouchable), Brian Hill of Century Films, Coky Giedroyc (Save Me, Harlots) and Jessica Swale (Summerland, Ten Percent). They contributed advice, anecdote and opinion around cancel culture, mental health issues, widening access into the industry and making businesses and productions more proactive in recruiting and welcoming under-represented people.
HaZ Dulull, co-founder of Hazimation and Rhys Hancock, co-founder and Md of Metavision discussed the role of technology in enabling inclusion, with the MC for the day Muki Kulhan, chief innovation officer of Muki International. While Ace Ruele, motion capture actor, Creature Bionics, gave a motivational talk, hosted in the protestant church in Soho Square.
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