Recently, new mentorship initiatives have been created by production designers dedicated to changing our industry's landscape and providing opportunities within our community. If you're interested in making a difference, check out the initiatives below. If you're involved in another organization, please email us to add it to this list!
HOLLYWOOD PIPELINE introduced by ETHAN TOBMAN
As we all continue to understand and dismantle the racism and white fragility responsible for the lack of the diversity in our industry, I am focusing my energy on providing mentorship opportunities to the next generation of filmmakers at a high school level. This is both to expose them to career pathways in the arts, to forge relationships leading to PAID entry level positions on our crews, and to change the demographic of our unions and our crews.
In 2018 I began working with the Brooklyn-based iAM High School and the Center for Court Innovation, which provides academic and career competencies for underrepresented youth that will transform students into competitive candidates in advertising and media. There I met Mischael Cetoute who helped me found the "Hollywood Pipeline", which aims to direct underrepresented mentees to members of local USA829 and others.
Due to delays because of Covid, we have finally launched our first semester. We currently average 16- 20 mentors and 15 mentees and meet every second Saturday.
Information on the participants is below. If you are interested in joining our zoom talent talks, please contact me and be a part of this growing initiative. Our hope is to make this a national initiative in semesters to come, but as this is our beta semester, we are continuing to learn and grow with the educative interactions taking place. A list of our upcoming Talent Talks can be found on this sign up sheet link.
INFORMATION ON MENTEES:
Below is information on mentees. They’re a diverse bunch- a lot of college students and artists:
Gender is about 50/50, Race/Ethnicity is majority Black 80%, Latinx 20%, professional interests are varied, but a lot of interest in production design and concept art. Below are just a few participant quotes on what they want to see on a screen and why:
"I have a portfolio of scripts I’ve been working on for years, my favorite script is a personal one. It’s about my cousin who was raised in a strict religious household but went to public school for the first time and was forced to join a gang, then there was a murder he witnessed and went on trial for. It’s a very interesting story he spent 11 years in prison starting at age 17 I’m very attached to the story but also I think young men of color should hear a story like this because it happened so often".
"I would create a children’s show, dedicated to young minority girls. The characters would be minorities and take place in a mythical realm ( under the sea, castle etc) I feel as though minorities are sadly under represented when it comes to the fantasy genre. As a fan of fantasy myself, I wish I could’ve seen more faces that looked like mine in these beautifully stories".
"A show about a female with the ability to connect with her past relatives. Her Destined success for saving the world from the apocalypse, that causes all of untold, and mysterious creatures to be released into the 5D world. As they all release one by one a huge spiritual warfare takes place between good and evil".
"If I were able to create my own show, I would create a show that captures the everyday life of an African-American teenager growing up in the slums of Brooklyn. In the show, my main character would be a high school student, finding himself stuck between fitting in with his neighborhood and his friends, and doing what’s best for their family. On top of that, my show would address issues that the African- American community faces including police brutality, rape, abortions, drug abuse, domestic violence, colorism, family relations, gang violence, black on black crimes, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. My show wouldn’t just represent these issues but teach the audience how to handle them".
"I've actually been writing ideas for my own comic for a few years, but it's only in the idea stage. But if I COULD make it a reality, it'd be about relatable struggles of LGBTQ+ or straight black/latinx/biracial/indigenous/etc,. YA/teens who have a hard time with their identities, issues and also have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Why do you ask? Because as a bisexual black womxn, I go through struggles everyday, just like everyone else. I want to portray that we all have different obstacles, but we're still family and can come together as one. There's actually so much more to it, and I'd love to expand my knowledge of comic illustration and animating! Thank you for this opportunity".
"I would create a show or web series that brandishes the talent of young POC makeup artists because a lot of us don’t have the opportunity to have/grow a platform due to the fact that we don’t fit the European beauty standards".
Currently my focus has been to work with the Center for Court Innovation because when I reached out to similar organization of their variety, they were the first to respond to me and encourage me to work under their umbrella. But this initiative is not limited to their model and I hope to insight our union, and unions like it, to participate on a national level.
EQUITY THROUGH DESIGN MENTORSHIP
ETDM are stage and film design professionals, members of United Scenic Artist Local 829, creating mentorships that emphasize Black, Indigenous, and People of Color [BIPOC] from a range of junior high school, high school and college students.
ETDM strives to expand the students' orientation towards non-performance based careers in Film/TV/Theater by providing interactive career discussion panels and one-on-one artistic, personal and professional mentorship. Inherent in this mission is the intent to develop an awareness of the design and craft-oriented career possibilities in our field as well as guidance toward film and theater educational programs in the New York area.
At the heart of these efforts Is giving attention to the individual students and fostering a reciprocal relationship between USA 829 and scholastic organizations in an effort to shift the culture of both the schools and the entertainment industry toward values of diversity, equity and inclusion. ETDM seeks to be a resource for advocacy and a learning center for our community: encouraging educational institutions to recruit and retain an inclusive student body, supporting diverse students to become professional artists with a sustainable lifetime in the entertainment arts and pushing our industries to be centered on an anti-racist ethos.
For more info: http://www.etdmentorship.org