Major NYC Film Studios Reach Out to Minority Vendors

Ever since the #OscarsSoWhite backlash over the lack of minority nominees at the 2016 Academy Awards, the entertainment industry has been making an effort to remedy what had become a serious problem. While Oscar voters nationwide have responded by nominating diverse actors in every acting category for the Oscars on Sunday, the New York City film industry is trying to increase minority hiring among the ranks of suppliers and services.

On Feb. 22 major studios including Time Warner, NBCUniversal, the CBS Corp., Sony, Viacom-Paramount Pictures and the Walt Disney Co. invited around 50 local production and postproduction suppliers to display their work at the 2017 Studio Collaborative Supplier Diversity Showcase in the Time Warner Center.

The goal of the event was to broker relationships between suppliers and showrunners, producers and directors from the major studios, all of whom were represented at the event. "In the production and postproduction space, there has been a challenge in identifying diverse suppliers," said Clint Grimes, executive director of global sourcing and supplier diversity at Time Warner, which sponsored the event. "Ideally, familiarity will lead to opportunities for them to do business with any of our studios in the future."

Citing fears over the instability of the current presidential administration and what it means for minority business owners, many professionals stressed the need for these kinds of events. "Now is an even more critical time than ever," said Cherise TrahanMiller, CEO and creative director of Ashay Media Group, a design, digital marketing and branding agency based in Brooklyn. "We should be getting more minority business enterprises involved in shifting our economy and keeping jobs here."

The business case for better minority representation in film and TV is clear. UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies released its fourth-annual Hollywood Diversity Report this week. The analysis showed that films with relatively diverse casts tend to be financially more successful at the global box office, while television shows that presented diverse characters and storylines achieved higher ratings than their homogeneous counterparts. Still, lead roles in films for minorities decreased between 2013 and 2015 by approximately 3%, and directing jobs fell from roughly 12.9% to 10%, according to the report. Minorities, the report adds, purchased the majority of the ticket sales for the top five grossing films of 2015.

Representatives from the state Governor's Office of Motion Picture & Television Development, the Women's Business Enterprise National Council, the National Minority Supplier Development Council and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce were also in attendance at the showcase.

In the past year there had been greater pressure, specifically from the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America, to delegate $5 million of the state's proposed $420 million film production tax credit for productions that hire female or minority writers and directors. In his 2017–18 budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a three-year extension for the tax credit, which is set to expire in 2019, but the $5 million minority incentive was not included.

Original Article: Major NYC Film Studios Reach Out to Minority Vendors