This three-part series will pull inspiration from the 2016 Academy Award nominated films, hopefully pushing you to explore new strategies in your film projects. Don’t worry too much about the execution of these ideas; the Trove team is ready and willing to produce the Best Picture you’re dreaming about!
Any discussion of the 2016 Academy Awards cannot pass without a mention of the controversy surrounding its nominees. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars’ governing body) and its president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, are being blasted for a lack of diversity in nominees, as well as the stories the nominated films tell. The firestorm gained fuel when activist and web editor April Reign coined the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite; it ignited further as calls for prominent actors to boycott piled up from prominent would-be nominees. It’s important to look at these actions for what they are: a call for diverse, wholly representative perspectives, both in front of and behind the camera.
Although this controversy seems to be centered around Hollywood and its persistent inequalities, similar conversations have sprouted in literature, journalism, and on college campuses. We have reached a point as a society where these issues can no longer go unaddressed. What could this mean for you? It means that, when given the opportunity to share unique perspectives, they could have a more powerful impact than you could imagine.
Oscar nominee Straight Outta Compton (which received recognition for its screenplay, but was shut out of acting or technical nominations) was a runaway hit this summer because it told a story that few were able to hear before it was put on such a grand stage. Similarly, smaller but more artistic films like Tangerine or Grandma, that were critically acclaimed but, sadly, not nominated, highlighted the plight of transgendered individuals of color.
While your efforts don’t necessarily need to be as wide-reaching as full-scale feature films with more resources, one question you can answer with your final product is: whose story isn’t getting told? The Academy has released statements on a commitment to addressing these problems, even unveiling a new structure for membership and voting that will revolutionize who has a voice in the conversations that lead to award recognition, and that’s ultimately what these efforts are about: providing a voice. Looking deeply and thoughtfully at whose stories aren’t getting told is a way of providing a voice to those who may not otherwise be heard in a given space.
Taking on an issue of this magnitude can feel overwhelming, but there are small ways to start. Consider some of the ideas below, and start the important journey of working your way up to making sure that the stories you tell are more inclusive of everyone you may work with.
● First and foremost: Who works with you, uses the product, or provides the service, that has a unique experience? Whose story would be revered as one that isn’t commonly shared? The answers to these questions could be sourced through customer evaluations and testimonials, interviews with supervisors, or even a special submission process seeking unusual stories to highlight. Step outside of your standard feedback solicitation processes in order to yield new stories.
● We see product testimonials from users often, but what about taking testimony from their family members, coworkers, or friends? How has their time with your product or service made them better?
● Videos often feature CEOs or founders, but could just as easily include people along the supply chain that help create the product that bears a founder’s name. These people are also valuable to the bottom line of the organization, and shining a spotlight on their contributions is an excellent way of demonstrating this.
● Think about existing feedback options like comment cards – it’s easy and common to share the great testimonials, but what about sharing the perspective of those who disagree? Or someone who needed to be persuaded to appreciate what you offer? These stories can be as powerful – at times, even more so! – than ones about those who were “easy supporters.”
Even though your organization’s project will likely never grace the stage at the Academy Awards, ensuring that you’re telling diverse and different stories could make a world of difference for your public perception and private success alike. Whenever you’ve got your story in mind, please get in touch – we’d love to be a part of it!