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At a Crucial Time, ShortsTV Joins the CAST in Support of a More Diverse Hollywood

As National Hispanic Heritage Month begins amid a raging debate on diversity and race, ShortsTV is proud to join with members of Congress to support an important initiative to expand the range of voices and perspectives in Hollywood.

ShortsTV has long been involved in acquiring and showing short films by women, people of color and other underrepresented groups who often struggle to get their work seen through traditional Hollywood outlets. We know that for many of these filmmakers, the short-film route may be their most effective, or even only, available alternative.

Now, the recently announced Congressional Caucus for Advancement of Studio, Talent and Film Diversity (called CAST for short) is moving ahead with efforts to encourage Hollywood to embrace a broader array of voices in the media than we typically see. We here at ShortsTV couldn’t be more delighted to support their initiative.

“The motion picture industry and media have the potential to break down barriers and stereotypes,” U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said during a Twitter chat that I joined on Aug. 11.

“To paraphrase the great Frederick Douglas, progress is never garnered easily,” said Johnson, a CAST co-founder, “it must be struggled for, fought for, and wrested from the status quo ante. America has long struggled with the idea of diversity and many segments have fought for advancement. It is now time that we see measureable progress.”

CAST plans to pressure Hollywood to provide a more complete and accurate portrayal of our nation, an enhanced portrait that more routinely features all of us.

Unlike mainstream Hollywood, short films have long been a place where minority, female and other underrepresented sectors of the creative community can get their stories seen by a broader audience.

Such films typically have far lower financial and technical demands, making them practical options for many more creators. And the range of opportunities for such films has expanded rapidly, with more festivals, awards-season respect and distribution outlets than ever.

At ShortsTV, we have enthusiastically embraced the resulting outpouring of creative work, spotlighting a wide range of talent, most notably through our #WatchInColor initiative.

ShortsTV also joined with the NAACP to sponsor “Champions for Justice,” a short film contest whose winners, Mecca Amoni Michele Lewis and Erin Gaddis, joined U.S. Rep. Johnson and me on that Aug. 11 Twitter chat with BlackBloggersConnect.

Lewis and Gaddis received a $7,500 grant to create a more extended documentary about their subject, “JustUS: Living with a Criminal Record.” That documentary will appear on ShortsTV, part of a planned annual contest sponsored by the NAACP and us.

Now ShortsTV is focusing on National Hispanic Heritage Month. Beginning at 8 PM, Sept. 13, two days before NHHM officially begins, we’ll feature the first of a weekly programming block spotlighting Latino filmmakers and themes.

We’ll also highlight Latino filmmakers and themes in our usual monthly programming blocks, such as Movies By Her and Filmmaker Spotlight.

Much work needs to be done, but supporting the fine work of CAST, backing festivals to find emerging filmmakers, and using our platform to spotlight some of the best talent out there are ways we can tangibly make a difference in creating a more diverse and inclusive Hollywood.

About the Author

Carter Pilcher is CEO and founder of the ShortsHD network and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Follow him on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.