May 26, 2022

Representation in Film & Television | Week 3 Challenge Recap

Last week in our Stand Against Racism Challenge, we learned about Representation in Film & Television. Whether or not you’re taking the Challenge with us, you can still learn more about how this concept

comes to play in Spokane. 

Take The Challenge


Spokane’s earliest connections to the film and television industry were the feature films “Vision Quest” in 1985 and “Benny & Joon” in 1993. In 2006, things changed for the Inland Empire when Washington state signed its first motion picture competitiveness bill which at its peak brought 3-5 feature projects to Spokane per year. The 16 years since this bill went into effect have not been without challenges. In 2011, the bill lapsed for one year and much of the workforce was forced to relocate or change careers. A similar thing occurred in 2020 during the early part of the pandemic, but the industry is poised for major regrowth in 2022. The most recent motion picture competitiveness bill was renewed in March and the credit amount was increased from 3.5 million to 15 million dollars. One of the key elements of the renewed bill is a stronger focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

The new bill “recognizes that there are significant barriers to entry for those from marginalized communities to enter the motion picture workforce. This results in lost opportunity for people to tell stories in film that reflect a breadth of diversity in experience across race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and place of origin.” This recognition is supported by the lived experience of local BIPOC members of the Film and Television industry here in Spokane.  

Three key areas where this shows up are:

  1. Roles that are identified as “race agnostic” — i.e., where the race of the film’s characters is not critically necessary to the storytelling — are predominantly being filled by white actors.
  2. Marginalized communities lack access to creative arts and technical training programs needed to be successful in our local market.  
    1. The impact of this, according to a local talent agent, has been that there are “more diverse roles available then trained and represented diverse talent in Spokane.” A local member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Union, or IATSE, which represents technicians and crafts people in the stage, television, and film industries echoes this sentiment.
  3. The stories being told are primarily written, produced, and directed by white industry members and lack cultural understanding necessary to accurately portray BIPOC artists.  

One of the ways that the Motion Picture Competitiveness Bill attempts to counter these issues is by requiring that “20% of its funding assistance be provided to motion picture productions located or filmed in rural communities and 20% of its funding assistance be provided to motion picture productions that tell stories of marginalized communities.” The state will also monitor the workforce development efforts and report on how employers are meeting the goal of supporting marginalized communities as they grow their workforce. 

All of the community members I spoke to see this as a great start, but believe that true representation in Spokane will require additional awareness and effort in order to ensure that all projects reflect the diverse communities that make up the Inland empire.  

How To Support This Goal In Spokane
  • Sign up with an agency! The two working agencies in Spokane, MAM and Big Fish, are looking for diverse talent to help fill the roles being offered in the Pacific Northwest.  
  • Support non-profits that further creative efforts and focus on diversity such as Spokane Film Project, Terrain and Whipsmart.
  • Support local BIPOC creators at the individual level, through events like the One Heart Festival, and through organizations that further arts education like the Carl Maxey Center.

If you have…


15 Minutes

and

30 Minutes

and

 1 hour

Image of a grey clock with text that says, "15 minutes" and and Image of a grey clock with text that says, "1 hour"
Check out this TED Talk featuring Grace Dove on reclaiming Indigenous Identity in Hollywood. and Watch this video by Washington Post Live featuring America Ferrera on race in television in America. and Explore this article by McKinsey & Company to understand the impact and barriers to increasing diversity in film & television.

BONUS:

  • If you have an hour, check out this report by researcher’s at USC Annenberg on “The Prevalence and Portrayal of Asian and Pacific Islanders across 1,300 Popular Films” 
  • If you have an extra 10 minutes, check out the LAAUNCH Status Index Report (Page 30-33) to learn more about the “(In)visibility of Asian Americans” in film & television.

REFLECT


Take a moment to reflect today’s challenge and any insights you experienced.

  • How did this challenge make you feel?
  • What did you learn?
  • What did you notice about yourself after taking the challenge?
  • Consider sharing this new awareness with a friend or group to help deepen your understanding of the information.
  • Continue the conversation online and connect with others by joining our Racial & Social Justice Facebook group.

Let us know why this challenge is important to you by leaving your comment here


Again, thank you for joining us in our Stand Against Racism Challenge. Our work continues every weekday from May 2 – May 30. Each day you’ll be offered some content to help you take a deeper dive into the daily topic.

We ask that you undertake this challenge with an open mind and willingness to explore new ideas and allow yourself to sit with any emotions that may come up for you.

This content may be hard to process so consider having a self-care plan in place beforehand. This can include meditation before or after engaging, watching your favorite show, or doing something creative.

We look forward to going on this journey towards true equity and justice with you!

Just joining the SAR Challenge? Register here.


Racial Equity work is consistently underfunded. YWCA needs your help to continue to provide high quality programming like our Stand Against Racism Challenge.

Make a $21 investment in your own anti-racist development and challenge yourself to encourage 21 other people to take the challenge and match your $21 investment.

DONATE TODAY

By: Steve Lloyd

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