Black Lives Matter in Film

The film industry has consistently been under fire, with underrepresentation and stereotypical portrayals staining their usual Hollywood glamour.

Photo by Clay Banks via Unsplash

(This Article is a re-issue from a previous print publication)

The National Youth Film Academy endeavours to ‘locate, nurture and promote the very best young filmmakers and actors in the UK’. At a time when we are witnessing the biggest worldwide revival in the fight for racial justice since the civil rights movement, the NYFA’s latest project is a celebration of UK black creatives, aged 16-25, within the film industry. More than that, however, its project ignites a discussion about diversity in film.

The film industry has consistently been under fire, with underrepresentation and stereotypical portrayals staining their usual Hollywood glamour. However, this is possibly one of the first times we have witnessed them cave to pressure. Where in 2015 #OscarsSoWhite could not shake the Academy, recent demonstrations across the globe have pushed them to reveal new diversity requirements for nominees of the best picture award. Although, this is due to take effect in 2024. As early as 2013, people were asking why the BAFTAs were dominated by white performers, with Lenny Henry rightly pointing out that ‘these shouldn’t just be niche programmes, they must be about things we can all relate to. We’re an inclusive nation. It’s time to make some inclusive programmes.’ 

This year, the British Film Institue even reported that, following their Diversity Standard Guidelines issued in 2016, ‘change is too slow and […] there is more work to be done’, particularly in regards to diversity and ethnicity across film crews. These guidelines have also been adopted by Film4, BBC Films and the UK branch of Paramount. Diversity has long been an issue in film and television. The National Youth Film Academy is seeking to address this, with their founder Rob Earnshaw saying that the programme will be ‘an opportunity to make a real change’, and that he hopes the NYFA can address ‘the lack of diversity within our industry [… and] be at the forefront of efforts to change that’.

Opened on August 27th, #BLMF is a free programme run by the NYFA for young black and mixed black people interested in a career in any aspect of film, whether that be directing, composing scores or acting. In doing so, they are offering a voice and new opportunities to the future filmmakers across the nation. With the NYFA already having working relationships with household brands, such as Warner Bros, the BBC, Sky One and MIRAMAX, they have also hosted mentors from notable franchises such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, X-Men, and more locally the Inbetweeners. These resources offer a genuine opportunity to gain valuable experience and connections within the industry.

Interviews and auditions for roles will begin in November this year, with a press launch next April, and filming to be confirmed throughout 2021.

Partnered with Odeon, ProCam and Crowdfunder, the film’s production and screening will be entirely paid for, with the film ultimately being screened by Odeon in London in November 2021. For further information, or to register your interest, visit the National Youth Film Academy’s website for Black Lives Matter in Film.

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