How one Bristol man is tackling the lack of diversity in film and TV head on

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The  lack of diversity in the film industry is no new thing.  In 2017 a report by the British Film Institute (BFI) talked of a “pandemic lack of inclusion”, and just three per cent of the UK’s production and post-production workforce are from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background.

The BFI report revealed a culture of nepotism, unpaid work experience, and appropriate training were cited as reasons as to why people were prevented from working in the sector.

One man in Bristol has taken it upon himself to try to make a change.

Gary Thompson’s Cables and Camera initiative is based in Stokes Croft, in Cube Cinema.

It has become a key voice and leader in Bristol’s film community, with recent screenings including a preview of ‘I am Judah’ as well as a partnerships with Mandem and a big screen showing at We The Curious.

Gary said: “The events create a hub for BAME film-makers and creatives in Bristol to showcase their short films and sizzler reels, enabling a platform where film-makers can discuss, share and debate ideas. Creating this space also opens up opportunities to collaborate and network with other BAME creatives,” he added.

Why is this important? Gary explained: “In Bristol we have a very diverse community and mix of cultures but sometimes we don’t see or hear the stories that affect us all in day-to-day life.

“Diversity is on everyone’s lips at the moment, the fact that there is a lack of representation in the TV and film business is clearly visible.”

Gary recognised and identified a need to fill the gap in linking the community to film, and film to the community. He is now looking to build on this, by creating a new project called ‘The Conversation’, a big event inviting industry leaders to meet people from the BAME community in the city.

He said: “The aim is to bridge the gap between BAME people and the film and TV industry. We are looking to fill this void, and create a much-needed conversation between industry experts and BAME people striving to enter and succeed within the film and TV industry.

“It’s also a much-needed opportunity for attendees to network with like-minded film-makers and creatives, to bounce ideas off each other.”

One of the key drivers for Gary was that, as a young film-maker in the mid 90s, he himself was helped by an organisation based in St Pauls called Black Pyramid.

He feels he would never have picked up a camera without their support, and said: “They gave me an opportunity to get into the film business and learn the craft.

“The company had its 25th anniversary in the Watershed last year, and it re-enforced how important it was. But there isn’t a similar organisation like this in Bristol which helps underrepresented, and especially BAME, kids. Hence why we are doing this.”

Gary is hoping this is just the start of something, of regular events focusing on these issues, and hopefully offering solutions.

He said: “To increase diversity, we need to look at different models for engaging, targeting and coaching BAMEs in how to get into the film and TV industry; at varying levels and across various roles. It won’t change unless we start to do things differently.”

The first ‘Conversation’ event will involve keynote speakers, practical workshops and industry talks.

It will be hosted by film-maker Adam Murray, and some of the names involved include Channel 4 reporter and presenter Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, BAFTA crew member Daniel Alexander, BFI Film Programme Manager Alice Cabanas, and Rachel Drummond-Hay – a TV producer of BBC documentaries and programmes.

Gary said: “The desire is for The Conversation to be the first of many in Bristol’s cultural calendar. We are shaping this to be a regular event for Bristol – it’s time for change.”

The Conversation takes place on June 8 at the Cube Cinema in Stokes Croft. For more information contact cablescameras@yahoo.com

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