Films must 'tick boxes' on diversity to win funds
Filmmakers have been told they must meet stringent new targets on diversity if they want to win grants from one of Britain’s biggest arts bodies.
The British Film Institute, which hands out £27million a year, has introduced a ‘Three Ticks’ system which includes quotas on the number of actors and crew who are female, gay, working-class, disabled or from ethnic minorities.
Once the system takes effect in September, budding filmmakers must satisfy at least two out of the three categories before they can be eligible for funds.
Despite MPs raising concerns about so-called ‘quota’ systems in the past, the move was praised by culture minister Ed Vaizey, who said it would ‘raise the bar’ to make films reflect modern Britain.
The BFI, a government body which distributes millions in lottery funds, is now recruiting a ‘diversity expert’ to ensure its rules are put in place correctly.
In advice about its new rules, which it said are obligatory, the BFI gave examples of films which should be seen as models of ‘telling diverse stories’. They include Belle, which depicts the struggles of the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of an 18th Century Navy officer, and Gone Too Far, a film about a streetwise teenager on a south London housing estate who meets his long-lost Nigerian brother.3
Another is Pride, a romantic comedy about gay activists in 1984 featuring Bill Nighy.
In order to comply with the rules, films must ‘tick’ at least two out of three categories from ‘on-screen diversity’, ‘off-screen diversity’ and ‘creating opportunities and promoting social mobility’.
On the set, film companies will be asked to ensure 30 per cent of supporting and background characters ‘positively reflect’ diversity.
In the off-screen category, at least two heads of department would have to be from ‘diverse backgrounds’.
The third category requires film-makers to provide ‘paid internships and employment opportunities’ and training placements for people from diverse backgrounds.
The initiative, which the BFI says is backed by UK producers’ association Pact as well as ethnic minority recruitment and training charity Creative Access, will be rolled out from September.