The Inclusive Filmmaking Toolkit! The resource to guide the screen sector to become more inclusive and disability-confident

Amelia Carew-ReidSydney

The Inclusive Filmmaking Toolkit

Bus Stop Films are changing the narrative of filmmaking with The Inclusive Filmmaking Toolkit, developed in partnership with Taste CreativeAimed at filmmakers of all abilities and budgets, the Toolkit addresses the idea that ‘we cannot be what we cannot see’ and redresses the inequality in representation of people with disability on our screens.

Screen NSW spoke with Bust Stop Films’ talented CEO Tracey Corbin-Matchett to learn more about the kit and how to level the playing field.

The Toolkit outlines best practice principles to provide the most appropriate support and achieve greater and more meaningful inclusion of people with disability on both sides of the camera. Why is this so important?

Film and screen media are such a powerful tool to influence society at large and individually, it shapes how we see ourselves. ‘We cannot be what we cannot see’ is a catchy, but honest tagline, to why seeing ourselves on screen in so important. With around 20% of the population living with some level of disability, it’s critical that the disability community is engaged in the creation of screen content from development through to production, in both the cast and crew, and in ways that are culturally appropriate, meaningful, and more than just ticking a box!

Making a film is so much more than what you see on screen, it’s creative expression, sharing personal stories, cultural connection, and employment.

 

Who is the tool kit for?

The Toolkit is for anyone connected to the screen industry. Both above and below the line practitioners, filmmakers, production companies, teachers, and students of film and policy makers. It’s as useful to the top tier production companies as it is to an undergrad film student seeking to ensure their projects are inclusive.

 

How does inclusion impact filmmaking and experience of cast and crew?

It gives the story more depth, especially when a story reflects authentic lived experience in development, and it adds a greater level of cohesion and teamwork on set when we make space for others to learn and contribute.

I think this quote from Glendyn Ivin about working with filmmaker Johanna Garvin on Penguin Bloom sums it up… “As Penguin Bloom is a story about a woman in a wheelchair it was great to have Johanna there for guidance and opinion but more than this it was great to have another “director” on set, regardless of her disability, to bounce ideas off and take her through the process of shooting.”

 

The Inclusive Filmmaking Toolkit is backed by extensive research. Can you tell us more about the work around your methodology?

In 2019, Professor Kyja Kristjansson-Nelson, Professor of Film at Minnesota State University, USA, studied our practices to determine how best to create more inclusion in media arts education and filmmaking through leadership practices, developing the “Theory of Dispositions in Filmmaking”. The study’s significance is a platform to push existing media arts programs to practice greater levels of access and inclusion at every level of leadership.

The research noted that dispositions impact the leadership of successful inclusive filmmaking, and how subsequently dispositions may impact exclusionary practices in filmmaking. The Professor found that by focusing strategically on building a team with an inclusive disposition, Bus Stop Films has successfully built a culture of access and inclusion in both its leadership practice and its filmmaking practice.

 

Was there anything that surprised you through your research?

That inclusive filmmaking is strongly tied to the attitude and disposition of the filmmaker. A cavalier attitude won’t deliver inclusion. You can be both kind, and creative, and still show strong leadership.

 

What do you think needs to change to level the playing field for filmmakers with disability

More creative collaboration and true partnerships beyond consultancy. Enough of bringing us in at the end point. Taste Creative and Bus Stop Films show what can be achieved when inclusion is actioned from the genesis of an idea and as business as usual model, not as a token measure or afterthought.