The British Film Institute Film Fund took a major step in championing gender, racial, sexual, class, and physical diversity yesterday by implementing new guidelines for financial support.
Under the revised requirements, projects that request funding must demonstrate diversity behind and/or in front of the camera. Specifically, the "three ticks" system (ticks meaning checks) mandates diversity guidelines must be met in two of the following categories: A) On Screen Diversity, B) Off Screen Diversity, C) Creating [Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic] BAME and Disability Opportunities and Promoting Social Mobility.
The guidelines largely go into effect as of September 1, 2014.
Top-down efforts to promote diversity in film aren't unheard of in European countries and other nations with a publicly supported film industry. The Swedish Film Institute has discussed mandating half of its funding to women directors, while the implementation of a quota system for public film funding was the topic of a panel discussion at this year's Cannes festival.
Of the new mandates, BFI CEO Amanda Nevill commented, "To stay really relevant, it is vital that our film and television industries reflect and properly represent our society. Diversity is good for creativity; it supports economic growth, taps into underserved audiences and makes for good business sense."
The BFI Film Fund is publicly supported via the National Lottery and helps finance around thirty new films a year.
The three ticks assessment requires applicants to demonstrate commitment to diversity across three areas of their production, ranging from the make up of the workforce to the stories and characters on screen, with at least one tick needed in a minimum of two areas for a project to be eligible for BFI production funding:
On-screen diversity: diverse subject matter, at least one lead character positively reflecting diversity, at least 30% of supporting and background characters positively reflecting diversity;
Off-screen diversity: diverse key creatives (director, screenwriter, composer, cinematographer), at least two Heads of Department from diverse backgrounds, production crew and production company staff (both with a range of targets across different diverse groups);
Creating opportunities and promoting social mobility: paid internships and employment opportunities for new entrants from diverse backgrounds, training placements for people from diverse backgrounds, demonstrable opportunities for former trainees or interns to progress within their careers.
To support the introduction and implementation of the BFI’s new guidelines, a Diversity Expert will be recruited to support funded productions and provide guidance for the wider industry. In partnership with Pact, the BFI will hold a series of town hall events for UK producers to explain the three ticks approach and answer questions about its implementation, with the first of these set to take place in London on 23 July. The BFI is also committed to engaging the UK film sector to build consensus around the best ways to approach diversity industry-wide, to develop an action-plan for change right across the UK’s film industry value chain.
Projects will be independently assessed against the three ticks criteria by the BFI’s Certification Unit, which also administers the cultural test for film, games, high end television and animation projects. With a minimum of two ticks required to be eligible for support, film projects receiving three ticks will be promoted using a BFI diversity logo, will be profiled as good practice case studies, and their producers will be promoted on the BFI website. To incentivise good practice, each year an exemplary producer in receipt of three ticks will be given a Lottery award to fund a diversity opportunity or work placement within their company for 12 months.