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Since Frances McDormand’s onstage shout-out at the Oscars, the inclusion rider has been widely discussed and, in some instances, adopted by Hollywood.
During a Produced By panel on Sunday titled “Producing in an Inclusive Industry: Where Do We Go From Here?,” industry execs and producers including Paul Feig and Gail Berman discussed the practical and legal implication of the contract requirement that hopes to promote gender and racial diversity on set, especially in below-the-line positions.
“The main thrust is making sure you are interviewing people beyond white dudes,” explained Feig, an early adopter of the rider.
He continued: “I think the inclusion rider could go a little further than it does, because it doesn’t demand that you hire, but it makes sure that you are interviewing. I want to push it more so it is actually a guarantee.”
Women and minorities still make up a fraction of the work force on studio films and recent efforts have focused on creating more inclusive sets, but the language and legal implications of contract requirements like inclusion riders are still being developed.
“It gets a little tricky when you tell a production company you have to hire people,” said attorney Nancy Solomon. “Getting people in the door and soliciting them is a good first step. Normally when you interview people, you don’t ask any question based on a protected category. You never ask people in job interviews, ‘How many children do you have?’ or ‘How do you identify your nation of origin?’ I would be horrified.”
“We at the PGA have not had a chance to study this issue, so we have no opinion yet on this particular inclusivity rider,” noted Berman, the newly elected co-president of the Producers Guild of America, who was moderating the panel discussion that also included Funny or Die CEO Mike Farah, UnREAL showrunner Stacy Rukeyser, MWM Studios’ Nancy Solomon and TriStar’s Nicole Brown.
Along with Feig’s Feigco Entertainment, Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society banner and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Pearl Street production company have adopted the rider for all of their future projects.
Stacy Smith, director of USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, first introduced the idea of the inclusion rider in 2014 in a Hollywood Reporter column. Its focus is on improving diversity in select below-the-line jobs.
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