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Diversity Bonuses in Film Production Incentives with NJ Case Study

Original publish date: March 14, 2024

Independent filmmakers are learning that there is some serious synergy between what’s best for productions and the social issues facing an eclectic crew base. There is a clear space where film production incentives intersect with a commitment to diversity, and it’s transforming opportunities across the country. Diversity bonuses within film production incentive programs vary by state, but they provide a way to champion inclusivity in moviemaking while also giving a boost to films that are trying to find their way to the screen. 

A female director watches behind the camera as a scene unfolds, taking advantage of diversity bonuses in a film production incentive.

What’s the lowdown on diversity bonuses in state production incentives? 

A diversity bonus, within the framework of state film production incentives, refers to additional financial incentives offered to film and television productions that meet specific diversity criteria. These criteria typically focus on fostering diversity in both the on-screen talent and the behind-the-scenes crew, aiming to cultivate a more inclusive workforce within the industry.

The importance of diversity bonuses lies in their potential economic impact for states and the entire production. While the economic effects can be complex and subject to debate, proponents argue that these bonuses contribute to stimulating local economies, fostering long-term industry growth, and strategically planning for financial sustainability.

For producers, there are many obvious advantages, ranging from reduced production costs and increased budget flexibility to gaining access to diverse locations and talent.

Diversity bonuses are a key tool for promoting inclusivity in the film and television industry, offering producers a range of strategic advantages in addition to fostering a more representative and vibrant storytelling environment. 

How can diversity inclusion be approached strategically? 

Strategic diversity inclusion involves recognizing the wealth of benefits that diverse contributors bring to creativity and innovation. Collaborating with diverse writers, directors, and actors not only enriches storytelling but also expands audience reach and engagement, proven to enhance business success.

To align scripts with diversity goals, authentic representation of characters and inclusive language are crucial. Script revisions can explore nuanced themes that accommodate a diverse perspective, contributing to authentic storytelling.

This strategic approach extends to partnerships with minority-owned entities, attracting socially conscious customers, building brand loyalty, and fostering enduring relationships based on shared values.

Overall, a strategic commitment to diversity is about embracing diverse perspectives and experiences for a more vibrant and successful creative landscape. 

What are the requirements when applying for diversity bonuses? 

When applying for diversity bonuses, applicants should meet general eligibility criteria, including having a diverse cast and crew, promoting diversity in leadership, and providing cultural competency training.

Engaging with the local community, documenting diversity efforts, and ensuring authentic representation in the project are essential.

Applicants must submit detailed plans outlining diversity goals, including strategies for inclusive casting, crew hiring, and leadership roles. Discussions with state officials should focus on the diversity plan, emphasizing inclusive strategies and efforts for cultural competency training and community engagement. Clear explanations on the positive impact on underrepresented communities, supported by documentation, are crucial for a successful application. 

How can diversity efforts be documented to qualify for a bonus? 

Meticulous documentation is essential. Record diverse hiring attempts, such as casting calls and crew hiring, and maintain participant lists from diversity training sessions. Keep comprehensive records of all applicants, emphasizing engagement with diverse candidates, and compile data on final hiring decisions to demonstrate diversity within your team.

During production, maintain detailed records, including demographic data in contracts, invoices from diverse vendors, and documentation from outreach programs. Organize documents according to state guidelines, including a detailed diversity plan, cast and crew lists, and records of outreach efforts. Ensure compliance with specific requirements outlined by the state’s film commission or relevant authority, available on their official website. 

Case Study: New Jersey 

Here’s a quick look at how the Garden State illustrates the implementation of diversity bonuses in film production incentives:

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