YouTube owner Google is set to partner with global SVOD to bring more diverse voices into the scripted side of the industry.
Elle Roth-Brunet, head of content and entertainment partnerships at the internet giant, told TBI here at SeriesFest in Denver that the pact with the unnamed streaming partner will provide a “voice” for directors and writers under -represented to work with SVOD.
Google will help create “a pipeline” of scripted projects from new voices for the anonymous service, with a focus on improving female, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ representation.
Fill a scripted gap
The move comes five months after ad-supported YouTube revealed it was virtually ending its original strategy, with the departure of chief content officer Susanne Daniels. It now budget for mostly unscripted content that educates and targets racial justice, like the Black Voices Fund.
“YouTube Originals has a whole new mandate and it’s being understood, but we’re looking at working with a major SVOD – one that has huge scripting experience. It’s a rolling conversation.
It would be the last Google-backed partnership of the past year that aims to increase opportunities for underrepresented talent, with recent pacts struck with Women In Film in Los Angeles and the Producers Guild of America.
Roth-Brunet, who spearheaded the initiative, also created the Motown Records Creator Program, which aims to provide creative women with more opportunities in music, while the company has also backed the Paul Feig-backed Powderkeg program.
Paul Feig’s powder keg
The incubator, whose production was presented to the public here at SeriesFest, aims to champion female and LGBTQ creators and filmmakers of color to help them get real ideas into short films, which can then be presented for commission. Google assumes no intellectual property rights.
Over a hundred shortlisted projects were narrowed down to five, with shorts from directors Fawzia Mirza, Tedra Wilson, Nat Prisco, Ashley Eakin and Jeanne Jo making the final cut.
Projects such as Flatmates – about two women with disabilities who start college – can then be taken to streamers or broadcasters. Roth-Brunet said his team was “very involved” with the content, helping to develop, produce and film, but adds that “it was a very deliberate choice not to do this branded content.”
She added, “We wanted the filmmakers to have the ability to make it something bigger. We do not own the rights. For some projects [in other schemes]YouTube Originals has a first look, but for the most part, it doesn’t.
The Google executive added that the TV industry is “not doing well” on improving representation, with a “tickbox conversation with diversity” apparent on the broadcast side.
“But across broadcast and streaming, the biggest problem is the lack of non-binary female directors. There are women who have two feature films who still won’t be offered a TV episode, while their white male counterparts consistently do both.
“It’s about the frames [to change the situation]. TV is more of a machine than a movie – with the latter, you can get a little more creative – but if we don’t take that pipeline and inject more people into it, we’ll never see anything different. »