A friend of mine Dane Logan contacted me recently via Facebook. We have not had a face-to-face meeting in a long time, as we have both been busy with our respective careers. We met ten years ago while working on a film and subsequent productions over a two year period but kept in touch and even had the same agent at one time. While we have both remained in the business of being Actors, Dane has branched out into writing and film making, while I am still finding my voice as a Writer but I digress.
Dane had recently completed work on his second film and now has two films in the can and is looking for a distributor/distribution deal. Did I have any ideas? This area while not a new one on me, is one I haven’t been involved in much in the last ten years or more. I was once a member of a group of producers on a film that has yet to see the light of day – despite being credited as the late Peter O’Toole’s last role. I seem to recall working on that film years before Mr. O’Toole got involved so can’t possibly comment.
Anyway I could only give Dane the benefit of my advice, which was it would a good move to try and get his films out there (in the UK first all,) via the independent cinemas. I believe there are still plenty of them scattered up and down the UK and I am sure London has more than a few. If he can get his films out there via the indy cinemas and art house venues (just remembered the ICA in the Mall in Central London,) it is a good first step in getting not just his films out there but also his name and reputation as a film maker and that of his team. The only thing I forgot to mention until I worked on a film recently, was the Film Festival circuit.
As mentioned above, I could only give him the benefit of my experience, limited as that is but it has made think of other things that are happening (or not happening as the case may be).
The past couple of months, I have been actively engaged in online forums on an ever increasing debate about the lack of opportunities for Black, Ethnic and other Actors of Colour. Those of you who follow my Blog are no stranger to this topic and know my views full well. Despite there being a wind of change blowing, given ever stronger debates occurring on this issue, the UK Media establishment, pay platitudes and carry on with business as usual.
My friend Dane once told me you cannot be judgemental with a person based on their background and while he was (and still is,) correct in his view, the problem I have is when people from a certain background, oh, lets say ‘White/Middle-Class’ are the problem within my industry, then I have to question, why is there is lack of diversity in British Television and Film? That is when I point the finger at that same Demographic and say that is the reason and at the same time, the problem.
Hollywood is aware of this problem, how? Well Morgan Freeman commented on the lack of opportunities for Black actors a couple of years ago. David Harewood around the same time said Britain has lost a generation of black actors. Adrian Lester has made mention of it. Lenny Henry has made mention of it on more than one occasion and is actively pursuing the matter, where it has garnered press attention. And more recently Treva Etienne – currently appearing in the Sci-Fi TV Series ‘Falling Skies’ has made mention of the above subject. It is also worth noting that Treva is one of long line of Black British Actors (Idris Elba, Marianne-Jean Baptiste, Chijetewel Ejiofor,) who have had to cross the Atlantic in order to establish themselves and enjoy the kind of career they envisioned for themselves. All good Actors, all amazing talents but only now garner work in the UK after making it big State-side.
Now you would think that the people who run things in the UK would have woken up to the above. But sadly no. As usual (much like British Politicians,) they give out platitudes, talk the good talk, then go right back and carry on with business as usual. And irrespective of the debate going on outside the ‘Gates’, the ‘Gatekeepers’ carry on as if it has nothing to do with them whatsoever.
Last year I wrote a Piece called: ‘Why a Paradox Exists & Why Fear of Change, Perception, Stereotyping Must Change for the Sake of a Better Society‘
One year on, nothing has changed. Our Media, still lacks colour, diversity and reflects very little of UK Society. I found it strange not so long ago watching Kiefer Sutherland reprising his role as ‘Jack Bauer’ in ’24: Live Another Day’ which this time was based entirely in London. As much as I was riveted to this latest instalment of Jack Bauer’s exploits, I could not help but noticed with a certain amount of irony, how an American Television Series could so accurately depict London and the cultural diversity of our Great City.
I think British Film and Television could learn lot from ’24: Live Another Day’ and our American Cousins. I won’t be holding my breath but I live in hope.