J.J Abrams of Star Trek and Star Wars fame is stepping up his diversity game . Inspired by the second year in a row of controversy surrounding the lack of melanin in the Oscars nominees, Abrams is moving towards a more inclusive casting experience.
This year, roles like Idris Elba’s in Beasts of No Nation and Michael B Jordan’s turn as Creed went unacknowledged, prompting the resurgence of the old hashtag. Prominent actors began to speak out against the problem and formed a boycott. Chris Rock completely rewrote his Oscars monologue. And amidst all of this turmoil the question at the top of the list was “how do we fix this.”
Now certainly these snubs which have come from an academy that is overwhelmingly white, male, and old have to be addressed. However another major point brought to light has been the lack of Oscar Award worthy roles for actors of color. You can’t win for roles that don’t exist. If you’re always playing a stereotype you’ll definitely be ignored for the big league awards.
So J.J Abrams and his team have a plan. The want to make their films look like America looks, in front of AND behind the screen.
Abrams, who also produced the latest Star Trek movies, isn’t just talking about finding a few token actors: he’s directed the casting agency that works with his production agency, Bad Robot, to send him lists of people — writers, producers, directors — who are proportionally representative to the U.S. population.
“Any list that we have for projects, it needs to be representative of this country.”
Not only is this a big development in the fight for equal representation in Hollywood, Abrams will likely see more money at the box office for his effort as diverse films make more money.
This move hits all the right notes that many people may slip up on. It’s not just the “casting of the show” as fool Matt Damon would tell us. In front of the screen is only part of the issue, getting a diverse writing and production staff is another huge fight as those positions have been whitewashed since the beginning of film. Most of the time that’s forgotten but Abrams is going out of his way to be decent in a Hollywood that’s extremely racist. Kudos and fist bump to you sir.
Thanks for reading!
Wow, that’s all I can say at this point. Its 2013 and its really showing now, this is where it all comes to a head. See back in the heyday of the comic industry nobody wanted to make black superheroes. Now in this new age we are slapped in the face with it everyday. Oh go check out “The avengers!” go check out “The dark knight”! Go check out “Captain America”! Go check out “Green Lantern”. What do all these movies have in common? They are comic book adaptations of superheroes that are all caucasian. Now I’m not talking about the quality of these movies, I’m one of the world’s biggest batman fans, but the fact remains that African Americans do not have many superheroes and the ones that are made are made just because they need a black hero. Giving us original names such as “Black lightning”, “Black panther”, “Bronze tiger”, we get it they’re black…but unfortunately until recently not much else.
The crazy part is THERE ARE GREAT BLACK SUPERHEROES. Unfortunately most of them have only a small following because they have never been promoted. Icon and Static are two of my very favorite heroes, yet no movie of either of them yet. Icon can easily go head to head with superman and in fact did one time punching him through the Justice league watch tower. Static eventually becomes the most powerful hero in the DC universe. Both heroes are great role models. So why haven’t they been given the exposure they deserve? Why am I still hearing “black people can’t be superheroes”?
Now they want us to get excited about “Falcon” being in the new Captain america movie. Yippie…a sidekick who talks to birds, right that’s a real hero…So now that my little rant is over lets get into the facts. The facts are that Dwayne McDuffie is responsible for some of the best (and only original) Black superheroes. Milestone comics did more for African Americans in the comic book industry than any other group ever did. But if you notice after Mr. Mcduffie’s untimely death, all that he did has been slowly reversed, they no longer use John Stewart for the green lantern, many of the black superheroes that were featured prominently in The justice league are gone. Perhaps most disturbing, in the television show batman the brave and the bold which featured team ups with almost every single hero in the dc universe, he didn’t team up with any milestone characters even one time.
Marvel you’re next! Teasing the populace year after year with a black panther movie is a little much don’t you think? I thank you for the first two blade movies an awesome job but most people forget that those movies helped kick off the comics-movie wave. This lack of black superheroes has resulted in there being almost zero black action stars. it translates now to the movie industry.
Wiseguy Industries is working on this. Cain the Conqueror will be the first of many heroes for all races and its not about their race. They will be superheroes of all colors but their colors will not make them. Thank you for your time.
So the film festival was a success! We successfully created a great short film titled “Aphrodite’s Arrow”. Let’s go through the past 48 hours with Team Wiseguy Industries!
So the kickoff was at on Waverly place. My behind the scenes team got there early and waited around for the drawing where we would receive our genre. My actors were waiting by the phone to hear what we’d be doing. This was everybody’s first time participating in the 48 hour film festival and we were all excited to see what we would create under the pressure. The genre we would randomly pick would be the entire basis of this 4-7 minute movie that we were to write,shoot,edit, and score in 48 hours. They called us by groups and when it was our turn I went up representing the team and drew ROMANCE. Romance? I was hoping for dark comedy or sci-fi and I get romance? Well the good thing about that is romance can also be a dark comedy or sci-fi! So immediately my mind and my co writer’s mind(Dave Carlson) starts racing. We had to stick around because we were still waiting on the prop, line of dialogue, and character that they assign everyone to put in their movie.
The prop ended up being a trophy, the character was Cat or Cam dean, and the line of dialogue was “when do you expect her?” At that point my team and I split ways to get everything in order and do our parts! The race was on!
Dave and I immediately went to this tea cafe down the street to set up the laptop and start spit-balling ideas. We came up with several really great ideas and it was pretty hard to narrow them down. Honestly we’ll probably end up shooting at least two of the ideas we came up with. In the end it came down to what would be the best film to shoot for the situation that would still give us the best movie. I believe we made the right choice. Soon the tea cafe closed and we set out looking for another place to write with an outlet because my computer shuts off if its not plugged in. About thirty minutes later we were in a diner cranking out a script. We worked out dialogue and character motivations/archs and finally at exactly 12 o’clock got the script finished, we sent it out to all the actors and set up a call time for 7 the next morning.
Time to get into my director’s chair! But like the guy said at the kickoff, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” I got an email from an actress that said she was sick and couldn’t do it, one of my actors got lost on the way to the shoot, we ended up having to make a few changes to get the first scene shot but honestly I believe it was for the best. However in waiting the first scene ended up taking WAY longer than expected, which would be the case for the rest of the day. One of the actresses had to go to another performance during the day so we left the first location and began setting up in the second. Apparently in my house the a/c decides when it wants to work, and I guess when there’s a house full of bustling film makers with 10000 degree lights, well that just isn’t a good time for it (now its working wonderfully by the way.) So we’re all in there sweating like, oh I don’t know, some animal that sweats a lot and we have to keep wiping the sweat off the actors for the scenes. Then someone doesn’t show up, great, because the other actress has ANOTHER performance so when people don’t show up it REALLY messes with our deadline. However even this we got through but instead of being done at 7 like we were supposed to be, we weren’t done until about 12:00. Right, so now its time to run this out to our editors, composer, and audio guys.
It took me about an hour to get it out there. Everybody in the house had a setup. Music was being composed in one room, video was being edited in another, audio was being modified in a third. We turned in for the night around 2 in the morning and got up again at 7. This was it, the last day, we basically had it in the bag, the music was almost done, the audio was looking good and the video was in the correct order, just a few touches here and there. Well of course we didn’t actually have everything ready until about 6:30. We left the house with the intent on exporting it on the train. When we got on the train however, the Mac had other plans. We couldn’t find the files. So it wouldn’t export. Luckily I brought my dock with me and when we got to the bar we used an outlet to hook it up. We found the files and re-attached them and hit export. Hm interesting the export time says 10 minutes…and so does the official clock well isn’t that a coincidence.
It was now LITERALLY down to the wire. As it exported I paced back and forth, Damon did a chant over the computer.
I kept checking the official time but it was hand and hand. As soon as it said less than a minute on the computer, they began counting down from ten.
FINALLY it was done, we ejected the flash drive and ran it over to the table….at five seconds! After a HUGE sigh of relief we congratulated each other and I sent out the text to the team congratulating them as well on a job well done. We had a few mishaps, mostly people not showing up or calling out last second but all in all it was one of the best experiences of my life. I feel the entire team has grown so much just over these 48 hours. Hopefully we’ll get back together soon to make something great! I’m so thankful for all of the people who joined up with the Wiseguy industries team on this, you’re the best team I could’ve asked for thanks for helping make this dream a reality!
Brian Bell(that’s me!)-Team leader, Director,Writer,Producer
Dave Carlson-Assistant Director,Writer
Douglas Guerra-Director of Photography
Thanks in advanced for all of you talented, driven people!
If you are in the NYC area check out the screenings! Team Wiseguy Industries will not, I repeat WILL NOT disappoint!
We are in group E which screens June 9th at 6:00 pm
Cantor Film Center, 36 East Eighth Street, New York, NY 10003