The UK film industry has taken the world by storm, courtesy of its prolific productions. The industry and its actors occupy an important position in the world’s radar when evaluated in terms of awards and respect both the products and the actors command internationally. However, the success of the industry has not been achieved without hitches and setbacks as issues of underrepresentation of the minority groups in the film work force have been thorny issues among many. This kind of set back has the potential of watering down the numerous achievements that were made; hence, appropriate actions should be done to save the film industry before it is too late.
According to the data survey from the UK Film Council Statistical Year 2000-2007, the total number of employees in the film industry was 42,230 working in the three major sectors of the industry. These are: film and video production, exhibition, and distribution. The data detailing the general spread of that working force generally showed under-representation of certain groups of the UK society. Women, black and minority ethnic groups, young people between the age of 16-24 years of age, and people with various forms of disabilities experienced a cute under-representation in the film industry work force. To be more specific, among the total work force, the blacks and minority ethnic groups occupied only 5% as compared to the 61% white men. It, therefore, becomes evident that the employment structure in the UK film industry is skewed to the disadvantage of the minority ethnic groups who also happen to be the same consumers of the same industry products. What this suggests is that the film industry has soft spot towards older white men than any other segment of the society. This shocking revelation is further confirmed by the independent study commissioned by the Film Council which found that minority ethnic employees only commanded 15% of the work force in the industry. Therefore, from all dimensions, minority ethnic groups have not been accorded a fair share in the film industry, something that might be equated to racism (UK Film Council, 2006-7).
One thing that has to be understood by the film industry players is that the products from the industry are consumed by a variety of population from different diversities. The films produced are watched by people from all races and nationalities; it, therefore, has become important that the face of the industry`s workforce should reflect this diversity. Justification of the minority groups’ inclusion can be looked in different dynamics with some having roots in the numerous researches commissioned by the film council. For instance, researches conducted on behalf of the council to determine the industry audience found that the minority ethnic happen to be the industry’s major consumers. More so, white women whose proportion is negligible when compared to their male counterparts in the workforce, had the same audience ratio. It should be expected that the overly represented white old men in the film workforce should dominate the audience population. However, from the results of council research, that hypothesis has been found to be null and void. The under-represented ethnic minorities and women take the lead as the major consumers of industry products. I, therefore, find it unethical and inappropriate that the major consumers of industry products receive the lowest attention in the workforce (UK Film Council, 2005-6).
The inclusion of ethnic minority into the mainstream film industry workforce can also be justified based on the changing dynamics of the UK’s population. National demographic surveys have found that the UK‘s population is in a continuous change in terms of population age and the overall ethnic mix. For instance, many researches form various statistical and social institutions have found out that the moving rate towards old age is increasing, and currently standing at a proportion of one third of the total population. The rather unfortunate outcome is that there seems to be no change on this statistics. /Scientific studies have also shown that as the general population of the country move towards the aging bracket, the proportion of people with disabilities is bound to increase. In light of this change, the United Kingdom has become deprived of the younger population in the workforce and a corresponding increase in the number of ethnic minorities. When looked holistically, we realize that there needs to be change in the whole sector so that activities can be in tandem with the dynamics of current population. Such change should take into consideration the shocking reality putting older age to be underdogs in terms of consumption. Therefore, it only becomes prudent that the film industry has to start attracting and creating opportunities for the ethnic minority who seems to be growing day by day in the UK (Spicer, 2005).
Several steps and strategies have been on the offing for sometime now. The UK government through the film council and other associated stakeholders initiated a legal perspective to the issue in order t5o make it constitutionally sound. This came as a realization of the fact that a more inclusive approach that would not be I conflict with the laws of the land was the only feasible solution. To put things into some order, Equal Opportunities Policies (EOPs) were born by the council in 1980s and to some extent they have changed things (Skillset and UK Film Council, 2003).
It should be realized that EOPs was not born by default, but out of highly synthesized analysis by different stakeholders. For instance, it became known that different industry players were not at per in tackling the issue of under-representation. It therefore, became natural that a new instrument was needed to iron out the differences so that the industry could move as one. The policy then adopted a sanctified role of eliminating any existing barrier to the inclusion of different ethnic minority groups into the system. However, the policy has not been simple implemented, as some barriers have proven to be really difficult to eliminate and provide equal opportunities to the ethnic minority. Some of the hurdles include material scarcity for the minority, inefficient child care and economic hurdles to getting the same qualifications as other nationals in the UK. These hurdles have been impediment to the total inclusion of ethnic minorities into the film industry workforce (Smelik, 2003).
The second legislation adopted to tackle the menace concerned the Multiple Identity Equality Legislation which by all dimensions was taken as an affirmative action to support the minorities. The legislation followed a series of researches that highlighted serious stereotypical prejudices that did not make it safe for the inclusion of the ethnic minorities in the general administration of the country. The focal point behind this legislation is the realization that the official approaches adopted to advance equality which often divided people along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender and the likes to such an extent that the issue affirmative action is viewed by some quarters as uncalled for. Such negative perception has derailed the inclusion of ethnic minority into the film industry as affirmative action has been portrayed negatively and inappropriate (Punch and Pearce, 2001).
In order to beat the already existing setback with regards to implementing multiple identity equality legislation, the UK government and relevant legal quarters have embraced the new terminology called ‘intersectionality’. This is a new concept within the legal fraternity which is fundamentally concerned with addressing the artificially created dimensions that divide the population a long racial, gender and other identities. This approach has been considered phenomenal, because it has changed the whole human perception about whole concept of different identities and that such identities are inevitable in human lives. This approach was not only called for, but it was also necessary to integrate the rather fragmented equality legislations both in Europe and UK specifically (Middlesex University Business School, 2003).
It should be noted that though the two legislations have been widely used as models for bringing sanity in the film industry, not much achievements can be realized. Several setbacks and weaknesses can be picked in their overall implementation. The two legislations came into existence long before the Film Council commissioned Royal Holloway, University of London to conduct a true study on the diversity of industry workforce. The revelation of this research was shocking and paints a grim picture of the viability of such legislative solutions. The Royal Holloway research, for instance, found out that 98% of script writers were the whites with only a paltry 2% being the blacks. Such statistics reveals that not much can be celebrated on the legislations adopted as the ratio of 2 to 98 is really shocking. I, therefore, strongly believe that the UK film industry is way far below the average mark and urgent actions must be done to streamline the sector (UK Film Council, 2006-7).
To bring a complete overhaul to the current state of affairs, I believe that there needs to be a paradigm shift in tackling the issue of under-representation in film industry. This new trend should be fought on three fronts as had been suggested by other scholars. These include affirmative action skewed towards the ethnic minority and other disadvantaged groups, complete regulation of the recruitment process through a well defined legislation that has to be adhered to, and leveraging the education system for all people regardless of their orientation, race, gender and ethnicity. If these three approaches are followed to the letter by the industry players, I do not see any reason why re-engineering the film workforce would be a hurdle.
It is important that a new model that takes into the imbalance in the employment should be commissioned and designed in a manner that it incorporates affirmative action in favor of the neglected ethnic minorities. However, such a step should only be taken once the entire industry stakeholder holder’s views have been analyzed into perspective. The affirmative action skewed towards the ethnic minority should be commissioned once thorough researches that will incorporate the views of all stakeholders have been taken into account. While having a holistic perspective of the film industry dynamics, it is important to underscore the fact that the industry managers and agents are not only vital, but are the necessary components that keep the industry going. They directly have an influence in terms of what gets into and out of the film industry. It has been eluded that the failure of the above legislations has been because of incomplete involvement of film industry players. Actually, project management specialists know it very well that incomplete brainstorming is detrimental to the success of any project like this.
Regulation of the recruitment process stands to be one of the micro-issues that can be used to effect change immediately in the film industry. The industry players need to consider that there is an urgent need to apply more stringent and robust strategies in the recruitment process to correct the malpractice without any delay. It should be recognized that a lot of change has been experienced in the civil society and such developments have the potential of branding the film industry a racist cult that has ne feelings for the minority groups.