diversity in entertainment
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  • New York Film Academy Hosts Hip Hop Film Festival Screening Event

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    The New York Film Academy recently hosted screenings, a Q&A, and panel presented by the Hip Hop Film Festival and 247films.tv. The event at NYFA’s Battery Park theatre was entitled “WeWatch: Femme Fatale Edition” and was presented as part of a series of Women’s History Month events hosted by NYFA. The hip-hop-focused festival is based in Harlem, and was founded in 2015. The third annual festival will take place this year from August 2-5 in Harlem.

    NYFA-HHFF-WomensHistory

    The WeWatch event began with food and drinks presented by Revive Kombucha. Attendees shifted into the theatre for the three-hour screening and Q&A portion of the event. Hip Hop Film Festival founder C R Capers introduced and moderated the event.

    After the first screening of comedy web series Shampagne, Capers sat down with series creator and lead actress Melissa Mickens to talk about her process and what served as inspiration. Mickens’ real life experiences of being pigeonholed during auditions spurned her desire to shift focus and pursue a rap career. She also discussed filming on a budget and in Harlem, where she resides.

    Next up was Australian filmmaker Bella Ann Townes’ Hip Hop & Holiness, which profiled Matthew “Mystery” Peet,  a breakdancer, rapper, and graffiti tagger who also happens to be a pastor at church. Peet discusses his relationship to both hip hop culture and religion and how he does not feel they should be mutually exclusive. Townes won Best Emerging Australian Director for the documentary short at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival in 2017.

    Seattle creative Voleak Sip’s short film Float was third in the lineup. Sip was unable to attend the event, but she recorded a video explaining how her older brother was the inspiration behind the main character, Rocky, who is a Cambodian hustler still living with his parents. The music was a key element of the film, and sound editor Jono Hill was on hand to speak to C R about his process. While the film is set in the ’90s, the music was created by present-day producers and musicians who provided a fresh take on the prominent ’90s boombap hip-hop sound.

    The event concluded with Jasmine Callis’ powerful documentary short set entirely in North Philly. Stay Black, Baby: The Mixtape is a complex portrait of Black youth rising, Black art glorified, Black voices uncovered, Black struggle acknowledged, and Black empowerment revered. Over the course of 20 compelling minutes, the film shifted seamlessly from motivational to heartbreaking and back again, covering topics from Black pride and resilience to police brutality and misogyny.

    Callis, who currently works at New York Film Academy as a video editor and producer, attended the event and discussed her inspirations, including Spike Lee and Philadelphia hip-hop legends The Roots. During the Q&A, Capers raved about Callis’ work, which she said belongs in a museum.

    Keep an eye on the Hip Hop Film Festival’s website for upcoming events and details on the 2018 iteration of the festival.

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  • Brandii Grace Discusses Inclusiveness in Video Games

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    Brandii Grace is a game designer, writer, producer, programmer, educator and general pioneer of the gaming industry. She was also the Chair of the LA chapter of the International Game Developers Association which, among its many endeavors, fights for change in the industry by identifying and speaking out on key issues.

    She joined the hosts of NYFA Games on Twitch to discuss inclusivity in video games. The discussion began by discussing a core concept: what is inclusivity?

    “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance”– Verna Meyers 

    Brandii expertly navigated the distinctions between various forms of diversity and inclusion explaining:

    • Exclusion: Diversity is neither valued nor accepted
    • Tokenism: Diversity is valued but not accepted
    • Assimilation: Diversity is accepted but not valued
    • Inclusion: Diversity is valued and accepted

    She went on to point out that when a video game features a diverse cast of characters it will tend to be more profitable. The reason is fairly simple: if a player feels represented, identifies with one of the characters they will tend to play and spend more, and recommend it to their friends – see Bioware’s “Dragon Age” and “Mass Effect” series, or Blizzard’s “Overwatch.”

    This concept of inclusivity is applied to the workplace as well. A more diverse team of developers tend to generate games that are:

    • “70% more likely to capture a new market
    • 45% more likely to improve market share
    • 70% more likely to implement a marketable idea”

    If you’d like more information about inclusivity in the entertainment industry, be sure to check out our post on gender inequality in film.

    You can see the entire episode on Inclusiveness in Video Games here:

    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv

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    August 25, 2017 • Game Design • Views: 2564

  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Diversifies With 774 New Members

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    On June 28, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Academy) admitted the biggest, most diverse class of new members in the institution’s 90-year history. According to the Academy’s official site, this year’s class includes 774 entertainment professionals from 57 countries, signaling a continuation of the Academy’s commitment to pursue greater diversity and inclusion for women and minorities within its ranks.

    The New York Film Academy has always celebrated the diversity of the international entertainment industry, which is reflected in our student body: 50 percent of NYFA students are from countries outside the U.S., with an equal representation of male and female students. As New York Film Academy President Michael J. Young notes, “This very diversity is a pillar of the industries our students hope to enter upon graduation,” and supports the raising of a new generation of film and media artists that can help build toward greater inclusion both onscreen and behind the scenes.

    The New York Film Academy has reported in its Gender Inequality in Film Infographic that approximately 5 men are employed for every 1 woman in the film industry, and women account for only 30.8 percent of speaking characters on screen — though women make up 50 percent of the U.S. population. Figures for the inclusion of minorities in the industry are no better, with NPR reporting in 2016 that a USC study found only “28.3 percent of characters with dialogue were from non-white racial/ethnic groups, though such groups are nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population.”

    As the LA Times notes, the 774 new members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are announced after a period of time in which the Academy, along with the wider entertainment industry, has attracted scrutiny and debate over issues of inequality. The underrepresentation of women and minorities created controversy during the 2016 and 2017 Oscars ceremonies, with many protesting the predominantly white and male nominations — nominated by a predominantly white and male Academy — under the rallying cry #OscarsSoWhite.
    According to an interview with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO, Dawn Hudson, in the LA Times, addressing inequality is a long-term project for the Academy: “That commitment [to diversity] has not waned and will not wane for many years to come. Because I don’t see this industry getting a lot more diverse or having more gender parity anytime real soon. So this work will be ongoing for the Academy. And I know that it has inspired others to follow suit.”

    According to the Academy’s website, while the addition of its 774 new members reflects a359 percent increase in women” and a “331 percent increase in people of color” inducted since 2015, the total percentage of membership for women and minorities in the Academy remains low, at 28 percent for women and 13 percent for minorities

    The New York Film Academy is committed to nurturing a diverse and international community for students, faculty, and staff. For the full list of the 774 new members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, click here.

    New York Film Academy takes a look at gender inequality in film

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    July 3, 2017 • Entertainment News • Views: 3546