“A lot of people are very unaware of these different jobs that are in the film industry.”
The movie industry is seeking more than just actors. An upcoming event at the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library hopes to connect potential film business employers with locals via the Secret Society of Black Creatives’ Diversity in Film program.
The Konnect will take place at the library on Saturday, April 2, from 12 to 4pm. Sponsors include the trade union SAG-AFTRA, as well as the Massachusetts Film Office, the Audio Engineering Society, and the City of Boston Arts and Culture department.
Malik Williams, the public relations chair of the society, said the networking event is a way to explore the community’s “transferable skills.” Williams, a composer and producer, said the film industry could be looking for carpenters, audio engineers, or stylists to work on local projects.
“We really want to connect people with the opportunities and create awareness,” Williams said in an interview. “A lot of people are very unaware of these different jobs that are in the film industry.”
SSBC founder Vladimir Minuty said that following demonstrations in 2020 with people protesting police brutality across the nation, various organizations and production companies reached out to him wanting to facilitate a change. He quickly realized that more needed to be done.
“I decided to take the idea of creating just a network and make it … focused on not only networking, but also trying to be a catalyst for diversity within Massachusetts,” he said. “Our mission is to promote and empower Black filmmakers, and we do that through networking, and education and advocacy and job referrals.”
While the events of 2020 opened up a discussion of diversity and inclusion in the film industry, many companies still aren’t reflecting changes in their hiring decisions, Williams said. A lack of education, including access to technology, in inner-city communities is among the systemic barriers. He said the next step is finding ways to “solve those problems” brought up at diversity and inclusion discussions in the film industry.
“We’d have to actually really create an organization so we can really funnel resources directly to people in our community,” Williams said.
Minuty said the networking opportunity is a chance to “bridge the gap” between accessibility and education. The film industry is network-based, and the Konnect is a way to begin that process for any level of professional.
“The film business is difficult to get into no matter what, no matter who you are,” he said. “If you don’t have a network, it’s even more difficult… so by alerting the community to this event, and connecting the community with the industry, this allows them to start to make those connections, start to understand how they can fit in.”
The film industry in New England is alive, both Williams and Minuty said. Some crews hire locally, and many commercial production companies are based in the Northeast.
“They could be sitting on skills right now that they don’t know could apply to this industry, so because it’s growing so rapidly here in the state, Massachusetts really needs more people working,” Williams said.
Minuty, who has been a working filmmaker since 1999, said he got his foothold in the industry around Boston early after completing his degree at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. It was challenging, he said, and he hopes the Konnect will forge similar connections.
“This event will help them to identify those skills, and perhaps somebody out there who didn’t realize that they had an opportunity or a possibility to work in the film industry could see that and discover a new path for themselves.”
Register for the Konnect here