About a year back I got connected through a friend, to a group of amazing folks working in Toronto's film and TV world. They were seeking support on how to use education as a tool to make sets more inclusive and anti-oppressive, as well as improving the experiences of people of colour who are working in the industry. At the time I was not aware that I was venturing on a journey that would allow me to connect with the who's who in the local industry.
When Bobby Shore , Aleysa Young and I started to chat about what some of the challenges were, from casting to set etiquette, the momentum quickly grew from an inherent respect for each other and was encouraged by the dedication and desire to make a genuine change for the better. They invited me on to support there initiative called Hire Higher (more on their launching soon!) Lucky for us, we all really hit it off in such an organic way, that among the deep conversations, we also made sure to enjoy each-others company. Through the guidance of these two and the young talented Sara Elgamal, Community Impact co-developed a curriculum to roll out to enhance cultural competency and awareness in Toronto's film and TV industry.
We discussed who were the right people to begin this work with, and it was decided to begin connecting with Toronto-based production companies. Firstly we approached Common Good who enthusiastically expressed support to host this series of trainings. In fact their leadership team that really stepped up and supported us knowing this was our pilot. Not knowing what to expect, it was an amazing to receive such positive feedback from the group on this 4-hour exchange, The time was spent in meaningful discussion and what quickly stood out was the willingness and support of the senior team at Common Good and apply a 0% tolerance for harmful behaviours and practices.
After carefully reflecting and debriefing with Common Good we gained a variety of insight on how to improve the workshops to be more effective. This then allowed us to next work with Untitled and Skin and Bones to continue this rolling out this training. We were again received with positive energy and the discussions were introspective, timely and important. Once again, these two production companies showed nothing but support by offering meaningful feedback and offering to amplify this work through their own networks.
These opportunities are taken with giant waves of gratitude, allowing the work Community Impact does to extend into new realms. One thing is clear, though not all may not be ready for these difficult conversations, the time has come to have them. Companies must be lead though their leaders and it is important to ask questions and explore possible solutions together. Social justice does not only apply to the environments we occupy outside of work. It is about the lived experiences of each person daily, extending to the work we do and how we are treated by those who employ us.
As we gain more insight on spreading this good word, we look forward to a continued partnership with Hire Higher as our new vision for film and TV spaces unfolds.