Having recognized the scarcity of minorities and women in the commercial industry the national AICP and DGA united to launch the Commercial Directors Diversity Program (CDDP) to increase their ranks.
Its goal is to grow the number of minority and women directors in commercial production and hence add diversity to DGA membership.
And it may prove to be a challenge. In Chicago, for example, minority and women directors are almost invisible in commercial production houses and barely discernible in ad agencies. (We counted 14 minority/women holding agency production jobs, among 10 agencies out of the city’s 1,600 agencies.)
But while local diversity in commercial production lags, comments Mark Androw, AICP Midwest chapter president, “Illinois is in the forefront of this movement, thanks to the diversity element of the Illinois Filmmakers 30% Tax Credit.
“To receive the Tax Credit, you have to prove that your crew matches roughly the diversity of the state: 50% female and about 20% people of color.
“If you cannot meet these goals or try to meet these goals, then you are denied the tax credit. This serves as a very useful tool for increasing the diversity of the crews.”
IATSE Local 476 Studio Mechanics’ president Brad Matthys agrees: “The tax incentive is the key to opening doors for minorities,” as his union has proven. Its unrelenting search for and training candidates members is a continuing challenge, but it has paid off and is an acknowledged part of 476’s growth to its current 1,400-plus membership.
The commercial business, however, might be a more difficult undertaking. We could only identify 14 minorities/women who have production and creative jobs among 10 ad agencies.
Surely, there must be more aspiring candidates who want a fulfilling career in commercial production.
National CDDP’s inaugural effort begins in LA
The national CDDP’s quest for diverse directors begins in Los Angeles on Jan. 11, 2017, when the first showcase of unsigned directors’s work will be presented to the AICP membership at the DGA Theatre. The goal is to have a production company sign a participant for representation.
Individuals who want their work to be considered in the showcase can submit from now through Nov. 28 here.
“This program is a true win-win-win,” says Matt Miller, national AICP president/CEO. “We will assist the ever-important discovery of new diverse talent for production companies; fledgling directors will have the opportunity to explore a career path in advertising; and the industry will gain access to more talent that can provide a broader range of perspectives on storytelling and creativity.”
A blue-ribbon jury of advertising and creative professionals selecting participants will be announced next week. The panel will include creative directors, agency producers, directors and production company executives.
No concrete plans for holding showcases in other cities have been set at this time, says national AICP communications director Kristin Wilcha. “We’ll see how the first one goes and then figure out how to bring the screenings to other cities.”