British Film Institute Will Demand 'Diversity' Quotas or Cut Off Movie Funding

I've spoken to a fair share of actors from outside the U.S. who applaud their country's governments for footing part of the bill for their films.

The British Film Institute, which wrote checks for the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech as well as Philomena, is one of several organizations which helps national movie projects.

This country has no equivalent body.

Of course, letting someone pick up part of the tab might involve a string--or three. Filmmakers in England are about to learn that lesson starting in September. If they don't, the money spigot may go dry according to The Telegraph.

British filmmakers must now meet new targets for ethnic minority, gay and female characters on- and off-screen if they wish to continue receiving funding from Britain’s largest public film fund....

Films must “tick” at least two of three criteria: on-screen diversity; off-screen diversity and “creating opportunities and social mobility,” the paper reported.

In the first category, at least one lead character must be “positively reflecting diversity,” with the project more likely to receive funding if it “explicitly and predominantly explores issues of identity relating to ethnicity or national origins, a specific focus on women, people with disabilities, sexual identity, age and people from a socially disadvantaged background.

The more "diverse" the project, the more money the production receives. The demands aren't only for what appears on movie screens. The new rules also apply to behind the scenes work. The paper reports that a minimum of two department heads must hail from "diverse backgrounds."

Will filmmakers balk or swallow hard and follow the rules? I suspect the latter if U.S. talent is any guide. The U.S. film industry doesn't mind following the rules Chinese film officials set in order to get their films shown in that country. Movies like Django Unchained and World War Z are just two of several features which faced restrictions unless their respective studios tweaked the material.

Here's guessing British filmmakers will chart a similar course.


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