Diversity

Hidden Figures, 21st Century Fox

In celebration of Black History Month, 21st Century Fox and AMC Theatres are joining forces to provide free screenings of Academy Award nominated film Hidden Figures in communities across the country. The film – starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe – tells the 'untold' story of three African American female NASA mathematicians during the Space Race of the 1960's. Hidden Figures has been nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer’s portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan. Hidden Figures continues to inspire audiences across the country, having already crossed $144 million in box office receipts. 

The screenings are intended to build broader awareness of the true story on which the film is based, and inspire younger generations to follow their dreams. The powerful Hidden Figures story has been particularly impactful in encouraging young women, and especially women of color, to pursue studies and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. "I believe seeing this movie will give us girls the inspiration we need to say, I can be a mathematician, an engineer or better yet, an astronaut,” said Taylor Richardson, a 7th grade student from Florida who loves science and wants to be an astronaut herself.

Free screenings will be held on Saturday, February 18 at 10am in the following cities: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; The Bronx, NY; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia, PA; Oakland, CA; St. Louis, MO; Miami, FL; and Washington, DC. Tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis and can be reserved at https://www.amctheatres.com/hidden-figures-group.

“As we celebrate Black History Month and look ahead to Women’s History Month in March, this story of empowerment and perseverance is more relevant than ever. We at 21CF were inspired by the grassroots movement to bring this film to audiences that wouldn’t otherwise be able to see it – audiences that might include future innovators and barrier-breakers – and we wanted to support and extend that movement,” said Liba Rubenstein, 21st Century Fox’s Senior Vice President of Social Impact.

In addition to February 18th’s free screenings, 21st Century Fox and AMC Theatres invite school and community groups and non-profit organizations to apply for additional special screenings to be held in their towns. Groups can apply at http://21.cf/HiddenFigures for consideration. The application deadline is February 28, 2017 and winners will be notified in March 2017.

“The storytelling and message that Hidden Figures carries is endearing and inspiring, and based on the remarkable community support this movie has received, we have witnessed first-hand the powerful impact it is having on audiences,” said Elizabeth Frank, EVP and Chief Content & Programming Officer, AMC. “We’re honored to partner with Fox to help further the reach of this message to moviegoers across the country.”

21st Century Fox also recently completed “The Search for Hidden Figures” contest to uncover the next generation of female leaders in STEM fields. More than $200,000 in scholarships and awards were distributed. More information on the contest is available here.


Ghetto Film School in London

(L-R Barbara Broccoli, Kyra Peters, Ray Gurrola, Gillian Lyons, Emma Thompson, Stacey Snider, Keith Burrus)

On Tuesday, March 21, students from 21st Century Fox partner Ghetto Film School and South London creative non-profit Bold Tendencies held a special screening in London for Ghetto Film School’s 2016 Thesis Films, Ghost of a Chance and Genesis. The short films are the product of almost a year of cross-country and international collaboration between students in Los Angeles, New York, and London. The event brought out the good and the great from London’s film industry, including Academy Award-winning actress Emma Thompson, The Darjeeling Limited actress Amara Karan, actor Babou Ceesay, model and actress Lily Cole, and filmmakers Matthew Vaughn and Ol Parker. The night was hosted by Twentieth Century Fox Film Chairman and CEO, Stacey Snider, and producer Barbara Broccoli, best known for her work on the James Bond film series.

Founded in the South Bronx 17 years ago, Ghetto Film School (GFS) has since expanded to MacArthur Park in LA with the help of 21CF, and currently engages over 1,500 people annually through its two tracks: a pre-professional narrative filmmaking education program, and an early career support network for professional already working in the creative media industries. Every year, the GFS Fellows Program takes high school students from communities traditionally underrepresented in Hollywood through 30 months of intensive instruction from leading filmmakers, mentorship from industry experts, and exposure to the business behind film and television. The fellowship culminates in the Thesis Film Project, a six-month short film production experience in which students travel abroad to create a 15-minute movie in collaboration with a cast and mentoring crew local to that city.

As part of 21CF’s commitment to developing the next generation of creative talent around the world, the company has supported GFS for many years, funding the first program outpost in LA and providing curriculum support, mentors and access to resources, executives, and talent. 21CF is also funding all of GFS’ core costs for the next three years.

In 2016, GFS partnered with Hannah Barry and her Peckham-based non-profit, Bold Tendencies, to bring the Fellows Program to London. The partnership marked the first time GFS shared its curriculum with another organization to develop young filmmakers outside of the U.S., and the first time that the Bronx and LA fellows collaborated on their thesis projects abroad. The two organizations connected seamlessly and inspired Bold Tendencies to create Bold Filmmaking, a course offered to 14 to 18 year-olds from local state secondary schools in London. Seven students were selected for the inaugural 2016 Bold Filmmaking class, out of which one student secured an acting agent, two were selected to join the British Film Institute Future Film Academy, and the group’s short film Single Russian Ladies in your Area was screened at the 2017 London Short Film Festival.

The GFS Thesis Project began as a three-month writing contest in which all fellows completed and submitted a script, collectively picked the top script as a team, and then pitched themselves for the Director position as well as various other crew positions—camera operator, script supervisor, editor, sound designer, etc. Local London-based teens from Bold Tendencies’ new Bold Filmmaking program helped prepare for the visit and created original behind-the scenes content during the GFS Thesis Film productions. Bold Tendencies also helped with logistics, budget management, and supplies, and worked with Sky to provide first class equipment and a “mentorship crew” of industry professionals who gave guidance and technical advice to the students during production.

After scripts for the two films were chosen by the students in May 2016, a cast of Hollywood greats including Stacey Snider, Max Greenfield, Mariah Carey, Lee Daniels, and Simon Helberg gathered in LA for a table reading with the students. The event was co-hosted by 21CF CEO and GFS board member James Murdoch, and served as a celebration of the organization, as well as a chance for students to receive feedback from top Hollywood talent and directors.

"This script is very funny. You had your audience laughing out loud, which is hard to do," said filmmaker and GFS board member David O. Russell to high school student Gillian Lyons, who wrote one of the scripts.

The students presented their final films on March 21 at the BAFTA in London, with welcoming remarks from Stacey Snider and Joe Hall, Founder and President of Ghetto Film School. “The result [of GFS] is a group of young people that are not only empowered to think analytically and creatively, but also one that has acquired the skills necessary to succeed in any situation – they’ve practiced teamwork; they’ve learned to take contructive criticism from their peers; they’ve learned to take risks and push boundaries; they’ve even gone through writer’s block!” said Snider before the two films began.

Ghost of a Chance, written by Lyons and directed by Niko Baur, follows a failing playwright who finds and steals the last written work of William Shakespeare, whose ghost comes back to haunt him on opening night. Genesis, written by Romeo Ortiz and directed by Kyra Peters, unravels the story of what inspired a young Jack the Ripper, the disturbed man who became one of London’s most notorious serial killers in the late 1800’s.

Following the screenings, Hannah Barry of Bold Tendencies moderated a Q&A panel discussion with the GFS students involved in each film. “Ghetto Film School showed me exactly the path that I wanted to take. Prior to coming to GFS, I wanted to be an author but…they showed me there are so many more things you can do as a writer—you don’t have to just write a book, you can create a whole narrative piece that you can actually see before your eyes, and that was just amazing to me. It’s a lot of fun to make this movie magic,” remarked Keith Burrus, a GFS student who operated the cameras on Genesis.

“What makes it even more impactful is the fact that Ghetto Film School’s programs are embedded in specific local communities, so they earn the trust of both students and their parents and are truly part of the landscape of those local creative communities. It also ensures that the stories the students tell are diverse and authentic – two things the creative world needs to embrace now more than ever,” said Snider.

Watch Ghost of a Chance and Genesis today, and learn more about Ghetto Film School's visit to London below.


Short Awards: Hidden Figures, 21st Century Fox Social Impact

21st Century Fox’s social media campaigns supporting young women in STEM and girls’ access to education were named as finalists for the 9th annual Shorty Awards, which are sponsored by AdWeek and celebrate the best in digital and content marketing on social media.

21CF and PepsiCo’s “Search for Hidden Figures” was named a finalist in the categories of “Best Content and Promotion” and “Best Multicultural Community Engagement”. Inspired by the film Hidden Figures, 21CF and PepsiCo partnered with Pharrell Williams’ organization, i am OTHER, and the New York Academy of Sciences to find the next generation of women who will lead the way in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The campaign invited women and girls to share their stories of work and potential in STEM fields for the opportunity to win scholarships and other awards totaling over $200,000. The integrated, multi-platform campaign highlighted the importance of diversity in the workplace and the critical need to empower women who want to pursue careers in STEM.

21CF and National Geographic’s Stand with Malala campaign was also named a Shorty Award finalist in the “Best Influencer and Celebrity Facebook Campaign” category for its visual depiction of the world’s loss that occurs when girls are excluded from the classroom. As part of 21CF’s yearlong efforts to support girls’ education, the campaign was created in support of the broadcast premiere of the documentary film He Named Me Malala, which shares the story of Pakistani activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai and her global fight to ensure girls’ access to education. The campaign asked viewers to tweet using the hashtag #withMalala or change their Facebook profile to a special campaign video. The video transformed profile pictures into yearbook photos and then dissolved female users' profile pictures from the page, representing the 60 million girls who are out of school worldwide. For every post or share, 21CF gave $1 to the Malala Fund, in total donating $50,000.

Recognizing that social media has the influence to create global movements and new stars, the Shorty Awards spot industry-wide trends and honor both individual influencers and brands for their work and messaging on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and more. By constantly evolving along with the medium it celebrates, the Shorty Awards engage an online audience of millions and culminate in a blockbuster ceremony in New York City—winners are chosen through a combination of votes from the public and scores given by the Real Time Academy.

Learn more about the 2017 Shorty Awards and the full list of finalists here. Winners will be announced in New York City on April 23.


fox-writers-lab-diversity-hollywood-class

Photo by Saman Assefi Photography

For the sixth consecutive year, Fox has sought out some of Hollywood’s most exciting new voices to participate in the Fox Writers Lab, a fellowship program hosted by Fox Inclusion for young screenwriters with diverse perspectives, backgrounds and life experiences. The 13 finalists will work directly with Fox’s writers, directors, executives and more to hone their craft on the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles, with opportunities for staffing on the company’s film, television and digital productions. The Fox Writers Lab is one of several programs at 21st Century Fox designed to support the next generation of storytellers and create a pipeline of diverse talent into the industry.

"There's a deep well of untapped talent that deserves to be discovered, developed and empowered to tell their stories,” said Suzanna Makkos, head of comedy at the FOX network. “Fox Writers Lab is a great tool to open the door and create meaningful opportunities for these future writers, producers and creators, and I'm looking forward to working with the members of this year's class."

The finalists will spend 14 weeks on the Fox Lot, shadowing the company’s creatives, receiving feedback on their scripts, attending master classes with experienced writers and directors, and hearing from some of the industry’s most experienced figures through guest speaker sessions.

“Having been closely involved with Fox Writers Lab, it has been wonderful to see the impact its participants have made on a number of our dramas,” said Terence Carter, FOX’s head of drama. “While learning from the best auspices in the business, they bring new and fresh ideas to the writing room and bolster a creative process that thrives on diverse perspectives.”

The program has also partnered for a second year with the Young Storytellers, a nonprofit co-founded by Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk that is dedicated to helping young people discover the power of their own voices. The finalists will mentor elementary school students who are participating in the organization’s Script to Stage program, in which students write their own original short script, then see it performed live by professional actors.

At the conclusion of the program, one fellow will be named the 2017 Fox Writers Lab Fellow and awarded a purchase and development deal on his/her original script or a first-look deal with Fox network or any of its affiliated entities. All of this year’s finalists will receive staffing meetings for current Fox series and a first-look agreement to option their scripts. Participants from previous years have gone on to write for Fox shows such as Lucifer and Star.

“Lee Daniels and I wanted the Star writers' room to be as inclusive as possible,” said Tom Donaghy, co-creator and executive producer of Star. “We also wanted to find strong female voices who could write honestly for our young characters. When Jamila Daniel came to us through the Fox Writers Lab, we knew immediately how much she would bring to the project… We were lucky the Lab was there when we were hiring, and doubly lucky to hire Jamila.”

The Fox Writers Lab was initially launched in 2011 as the Fox Writers Intensive, and since then, it has become one of a growing slate of programs at 21CF that empower new voices in Hollywood. The Fox Filmmaker Lab, a partnership with the American Film Institute, is a mentoring program designed to increase the number of female directors working in the industry and recently announced its first class of 25 participants. In addition, the Fox Directors Lab last fall announced 16 Fellows to participate in its Comedy and Drama Apprenticeship Programs. Fox Inclusion is a department at Fox designed to identify programming and operational opportunities that reflect diverse perspectives across all of its entertainment platforms.

Learn more about 21CF’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, which include fellowship opportunities, filmmaking contests, professional training and more. 


Ghetto Film School, Industry 101 Pitch Day

Last month, longtime 21st Century Fox partner Ghetto Film School took its students to Fox Studios to pitch their ideas for short clips promoting FOX’s hot new show, Star. The students’ pitch presentations were part of GFS’ Industry 101 project, a semester-long class where high school students learn to create short video promos for a real client. The project gives them first-hand experience with the business behind film and television, teaches them the art of incorporating traditional storytelling strategies into 30-second promos, and helps them understand the process of working with clients.

Students prepared for their pitches by meeting with FOX’s on-air promotions team, and reviewing FOX’s research on their key audiences and marketing strategy for Star, a musical drama revolving around three talented young singers navigating the music business while trying to achieve their dreams. After developing their promo ideas, GFS students used the lessons learned from other GFS coursework and practiced presenting their pitches to each other in an engaging, concise manner. “Our students are very diligent about content brevity and accuracy, about formulating engaging hooks and demonstrating their visual vocabulary. They practice over and over again in front of their peers to make sure they’re pulling the audience into the emotional center of their pitch,” says Montea Robinson, LA Program Director and graduate of GFS’s program in the South Bronx.

On “Pitch Day”, students pitched their ideas for 30-second Star promos to a team from FOX—Scott Edwards, SVP of On-Air Promotions & Operations, Aaron Goldman, VP of Drama On-Air, Mamie Coleman, VP of Music and Production, and Karen McAllister, Director of On-Air Promos. Every student received in-depth feedback from the FOX team, giving them insight into both narrative storytelling and marketing techniques that will help strengthen their final products. Students are currently in production and will head back to the Fox lot later this spring for editing and revisions before final feedback.

Says GFS LA student Rosibel, age 16, “Prepping my pitch was nerve wracking! Although I had pitched before, I knew that getting feedback from FOX executives was an opportunity that many aspiring film-makers would love to have, so I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity and give my best shot. I bounced different ideas off friends and practiced my pitch with them and took note of what seemed to land best with them."

The program offers a substantial insight into what future careers in film and television could look like, and inspires students to continue working towards their goals. With many students coming from communities underrepresented in Hollywood, GFS helps them nurture their creativity, build skills in collaborative work and public speaking, and develop a framework for understanding themselves and the world around them.

“The coolest thing was getting to stand in a room full of FOX executives and talk to them about my ideas and hearing what they had to say in return, and getting to see the Fox lot! That's somewhere that a lot of us Ghetto Film School students, including myself, want to be one day and getting the opportunity to be there and see where it all happens was amazing,” said Rosibel.