Web Series World News: Inclusion Riders

(Stareable) #1

Welcome to Web Series World News, where we as a community discuss current events in the digital and TV worlds! Today’s topic:

Inclusion Riders

Following Frances McDormand’s Oscars acceptance speech, there’s been a lot of buzz in the mainstream and indie worlds about inclusion riders, defined by NPR as “a stipulation that actors and actresses can ask (or demand) to have inserted into their contracts, which would require a certain level of diversity among a film’s cast and crew.” Since McDormand’s speech, Michael B. Jordan’s production company has vowed to use them in every movie they produce, and it seems many others are following suit.

Given that diversity in film and television is so deplorable, do you think inclusion riders are the way to go? And how can indie creators make sure their series and projects uphold the same on and off camera diversity that we’re fighting for in Hollywood?

Let us know your thoughts!

(Herman Wang) #3

My typical crew size is 4 people, including myself, and I think that’s fairly common in indie web series. Diversity is certainly a laudable goal but may not be practical at that small a scale.

(Ollie R) #4

Unpop opinion, but I don’t think inclusion riders are the right way to go. I think we should just be allowed to hire the best people for the jobs. As well take into account that big names get movies funded and sold… all this would do is force companies to not get funded because they’re trying to be diverse

(Ollie R) #5

Yeah it would be basically impossible to demand at our level… or at least everything would take like TWICE as LONG and maybe would just drive good ideas into the ground through an endles development cycle

(Bri Castellini) #6

@SnobbyRobot @SecretLivesPS @FilmFaction @filmwritr4 @movieguyjon @Jessi_Almstead @whoisjonporter @JonSosis @ghettonerdgirl @OSTSG @mdec24 @kmd @floorthirteen @OddLantern @dj_tilney @Halen_Williamson @mkatiehunter @rjlackie @barbaramcthomas @Joseph_Brett @JustinHarris @RobbieRuviews @w-e-spear @spatulawilwheat

(Jessi Almstead) #7

My opinion is that this is a good thing and a step in the right direction. The status quo will never change unless a disruption occurs and that’s exactly what this is intended to be. I am all for disrupting the system and demanding equal and fair representation as well as compensation! It’s a way to take a stand on principle and it’s also a choice. I applaud those in high and low places who are stepping up for diversity! Isn’t that what web series are all about? The stories that we don’t get to see in mainstream media? The people who look like us, who tell stories we can actually relate to as well as the stories that we would never otherwise get to hear and learn from if it weren’t for some brave people stepping outside of convention. We have to demand that the air time is shared amongst many voices. Sometimes that means passing the mic to the quiet person next to you and then just listening. Yes it makes the job harder and it also makes the result better.

(Jonathan Hardesty) #8

I think Inclusion Riders are a good thing, because it lights a fire under the right people to start thinking about diversity and given how few companies own the movies we see in theaters, it puts some power in hands where there was none before.

That said, I tried to apply an inclusion rider to my show Flagon and I currently don’t have the bandwidth or networking to be able to provide that level of diversity or guarantee it. Now, if an actor presented that to me in a contract for working on Flagon, I would probably enlist them as a producer and have them help me fulfill that contract. I’d try to make it work with the lack of resources.

(William E. Spear) #9

Actual Inclusion Riders may not be sustainable but the spirit and intent seems attainable.

(Robbie Ru) #10

I love the thought here but I think it will be something that needs to happen on a mainstream level then have trickle down to indie productions.

Also, as another commenter pointed out, when does it become too much where you’re not getting the right people for the job?

I like the intent, but it could be hard to implement. The best we can do is look outside the boundaries of “character A is white straight male” and take steps to make sure diversity is celebrated in our films as much as possible.

What do you think @Bri_Castellini?

(Arthur Vincie) #11

I don’t really see this as an issue for indies. Nearly half the directors and/or producers I’ve worked for have been women; I’ve worked on projects directed by people of various ethnicities, races and orientations. I think there’s such a great pool of diverse talent in the indie world, that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to find people to work with.

I don’t know how an inclusion rider would shake out for me on my own crews - I tend to hire people I’ve worked with before, and my crews are tiny. 3TC’s entire crew (including the post) was maybe a dozen people tops and I think it was a pretty good mix of folks, though it’s true that there were a preponderance of white dudes in post (colorist, sound designer, VFX artist, composer, and me). What “categories” of diversity count and what don’t would also be something worth thinking about - age? Member of one of the LGBTQIA categories? I’m not against this, just asking.

My casts have gotten more diverse, so I don’t know how this would impact an inclusion rider either.

On the larger projects I’ve worked on (for other folks), the shoots have both whiter and male-r, and gender segregated along traditional departmental lines (G/E/Cam = guys, HMU/costume = women). So I think this is definitely a problem for the bigger producers to deal with.

Overall, I think the “hiring qualified people” thing really isn’t a big issue. One of the biggest problems for marginalized folks is the catch-22 (need the experience to get the job/need the job to get the experience). So they all have to work twice as hard to make it the same distance professionally. What affirmative action measures have demonstrated by and large is that the fear of “hiring unqualified people” just doesn’t happen.

Mentoring and teaching are good ways to promote diversity, as well as working on/promoting/advising on other people’s projects who are helmed/crewed by members of underrepresented groups.

(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #12

I may have a different point of view here, but I don’t really have to try harder to find diversity to make my cast/crew for projects. This may be largely because of who I am and where I live, but to hold the bigger production companies to this standard in my mind is ok. They have the resources to pull someone from anywhere. As for the little guys, you kinda have to take who you can get.

(Bri Castellini) #13

So I was reading another article about this recently that clarified some things for me- a lot of the easiest way to implement inclusion riders is to focus behind the camera and for day players and background actors. How many scenes have you watched where literally everyone in the background of a party scene or a coffee shop are white? Starting to make more diverse choices even just there can make a huge difference. Also, PAs are inherently gonna be less experienced but a lot of film crew get their start as PAs, so hiring PAs more diversely doesn’t hurt your “best person for the job” concerns and also gets them the much-needed experience so they don’t get caught in the catch 22 @avincie was talking about

(James Boo) #14

Inclusion riders specifically may not be the way to go, but every creator can find a way to pursue this goal that’s unique to their circumstances. One thing I did when producing my series was to keep an ongoing tally of what % of my episodes featured women and people of color (with a separate count for women of color). This was a way of keeping myself honest. For 10 minutes of spreadsheet work up front, I could have a free reminder every day of whether I was really doing whatever I could do to make the series inclusive. It also helped me make sensible trade-offs between different kinds of inclusion, or help me catch myself when I was trying to check a box rather than find a really great subject who happened to increase the diversity of the show. This tactic likely won’t help anyone running a scripted show, but the idea is to measure how we’re doing and then make decisions proactively, rather than institute a rule that might be inflexible and create confrontational space. I’m curious to see what proactive steps have worked for scripted shows.

Even if you’re indie, it costs $0 to set a goal of inclusion, then step outside your usual team-building steps (namely, working with your close network) to confirm whether there are any inclusive crew+cast decisions you can make while still being true to your characters and the world they live in. This does, of course, take time and is not convenient. You may still decide that you’re not in a position to increase inclusion at the level of your show, but in this scenario you’ve tried – and more importantly, you can explain your decision in concrete terms and be that much better equipped to address this goal in the next project.