Diversity in Filmmaking: Tips for Amplifying Voices
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


Picture this: a world of cinema where every story, no matter how unique or unheard, finds its place on the silver screen. That's the beauty of embracing diversity in filmmaking and amplifying underrepresented voices. It opens up a treasure of untold narratives waiting to be discovered and appreciated. But how do we achieve this? Let's dive in and find out.

Why diversity matters in filmmaking

The magic of cinema lies in its power to transport us to different worlds, introduce us to new perspectives, and help us understand the complex tapestry of human experience. And diversity in filmmaking is the key to unlocking this magic. Here's why:

  • Richer storytelling: By embracing diversity in filmmaking, we allow a multitude of voices to be heard, leading to more complex, rich, and authentic narratives. The stories of people from different cultures, races, genders, and backgrounds provide a wealth of material that can make our storytelling more vibrant and engaging.
  • Greater representation: A diverse film industry can accurately represent the world we live in. It's a chance for underrepresented voices to take center stage, for their stories to be told, and for audiences to see themselves reflected on screen.
  • Breaking stereotypes: Diversity in filmmaking has the power to shatter long-held stereotypes. It can challenge and change the way we think about certain groups of people, promoting understanding and acceptance.
  • Commercial success: Let's not forget the numbers. Diverse films resonate with audiences, leading to better box office results. The success of films like "Black Panther" and "Crazy Rich Asians" underlines the fact that movie-goers are eager to see diverse stories.

So, the next time you sit down to write a script or plan a film, remember this: embracing diversity isn't just about being politically correct—it's about enriching our storytelling, giving a voice to the voiceless, and creating films that truly reflect our diverse world. And that's a goal worth striving for.

How to develop diverse characters

Creating diverse characters that feel real and authentic is a crucial step in embracing diversity in filmmaking. But how do you do that without falling into the trap of stereotypes or tokenism? Here are a few tips:

  • Do your homework: Authenticity comes from understanding. Make sure to thoroughly research the background, culture, and experiences of your characters. This will give you a solid base from which to build your character, and it will help you avoid clichés and stereotypes.
  • Seek diverse perspectives: You can't possibly know everything, so don't be afraid to ask for help. Consult with people who share the same background as your characters. Their insights can be invaluable in creating a character that feels real.
  • Create well-rounded characters: Diversity isn't just about race, gender, or culture—it's also about personality, life experiences, and perspectives. Make sure your characters are multidimensional, with their own strengths, weaknesses, desires, and fears.
  • Avoid tokenism: The goal is not just to include diverse characters for the sake of diversity, but to make them integral to your story. They should have their own story arcs and development, not just serve as a backdrop to the main characters.

Remember, creating diverse characters isn't just about ticking boxes—it's about enriching your storytelling and giving audiences characters they can identify with. It's a challenge, yes, but one that can lead to truly memorable and impactful films.

Tips for Inclusive Storytelling

Inclusive storytelling is more than just including diverse characters in your script. It's about telling stories that resonate with people of all backgrounds. Here are some practical tips to help you embrace diversity in filmmaking through inclusive storytelling:

  • Listen to Diverse Voices: Incorporate diverse perspectives into your story development process. Seek out co-writers, consultants, or sensitivity readers who can provide insight into experiences different from your own.
  • Represent Realistically: Avoid over-simplifying or exoticizing different cultures or experiences. Real people are complex, and their stories should reflect this complexity.
  • Challenge Stereotypes: Use your storytelling to subvert harmful stereotypes instead of reinforcing them. This can be a powerful way to change perceptions and challenge the status quo.
  • Share the Spotlight: Make sure that diverse characters are not just supporting characters but also have their own narratives and development. They should be driving the story, not just adding color to it.

Remember, inclusive storytelling isn’t just good for amplifying underrepresented voices—it’s also good for business. Audiences crave stories they can see themselves in, and by embracing diversity in filmmaking, you can reach a wider, more diverse audience.

Promoting Diversity Behind the Scenes

Embracing diversity in filmmaking doesn't stop at the story you're telling—it extends to the team you're working with. Behind the camera, diversity can bring new perspectives, challenge old norms, and create a more inclusive environment.

  • Hire a Diverse Team: Actively seek out and hire crew members from different backgrounds. This includes directors, cinematographers, editors, and other key roles. It's not just about representation, it's about creating a balanced perspective in your work.
  • Create an Inclusive Environment: Make sure your set is a place where everyone feels welcome and valued. This can be as simple as using inclusive language, providing appropriate facilities, and being open to feedback.
  • Provide Opportunities: Give underrepresented individuals opportunities to grow and learn. This could mean offering internships, mentorship programs, or simply giving someone a chance when they wouldn't normally get one.
  • Advocate for Change: Use your voice and platform to advocate for diversity in the industry. Speak up, challenge the status quo, and make a commitment to amplifying underrepresented voices in filmmaking.

Remember, diversity behind the scenes is just as important as diversity on screen. By promoting diversity in your filmmaking crew, you are not only enriching your film but also contributing to a more inclusive film industry. And that's a win-win situation for everyone.

Amplifying Underrepresented Voices

Embracing diversity in filmmaking is not just about ticking a box or adding a dash of color to your film. It's about giving the spotlight to voices that often go unheard. Here's how you can do your part:

  • Listen: The first step to amplifying underrepresented voices is to listen. Seek out stories from diverse communities and let them guide your storytelling. You're not just a filmmaker, you're a conduit for these voices.
  • Authenticity Matters: When you're telling a story that's not your own, authenticity is key. This might mean doing extensive research or collaborating with individuals from the community you're portraying. Their stories deserve to be told right.
  • Pass The Mic: Sometimes, the best way to amplify underrepresented voices is to step back. Consider opportunities to produce or support films by diverse filmmakers. Your platform can be their platform too.
  • Speak Up: When you see a lack of diversity in film, call it out. It can be uncomfortable, but it's necessary for change. Remember, silence can be just as harmful as exclusion.

Enhancing and amplifying underrepresented voices in filmmaking can be a game changer. It's not just about making better films—it's about making the world of film a better place.

Case Studies of Diverse Filmmaking

While embracing diversity in filmmaking is an ongoing process, many filmmakers have successfully amplified underrepresented voices in their work. Let's take a look at a few examples:

  • 'Parasite' by Bong Joon Ho: This South Korean film broke records and barriers alike, becoming the first non-English film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. It's proof that audiences are ready and eager for diverse stories.
  • 'Coco' by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina: This Pixar gem is a celebration of Mexican culture and tradition. The filmmakers worked closely with cultural consultants to ensure the film was respectful and authentic.
  • 'Moonlight' by Barry Jenkins: This film shines a light on a community rarely portrayed in mainstream cinema. It's a powerful exploration of identity, sexuality, and race.

These case studies are not just proof that diverse filmmaking is possible, but that it can be wildly successful. So, what's stopping you from telling the next great story?

How to Support Diversity in Filmmaking

Given the importance of amplifying underrepresented voices, how can you personally support diversity in filmmaking? Here are a few ways:

  • Watch and Promote Diverse Films: This may seem obvious, but the most direct way to support diverse filmmakers is to watch their films. Then, spread the word! Share your reviews and recommendations with friends, family, and on social media.
  • Donate: Many organizations and initiatives are dedicated to fostering diversity in the film industry. Consider making a donation to these causes. Every bit of support helps!
  • Learn: Educate yourself on the issues and challenges faced by underrepresented communities in the film industry. The more you understand, the more effectively you can advocate for change.
  • Collaborate: If you're a filmmaker yourself, consider collaborating with diverse creators. This not only enriches your own storytelling but also helps amplify underrepresented voices.

Remember, supporting diversity in filmmaking isn't just about seeing more varied stories onscreen. It's about creating a more inclusive, equitable industry where everyone's voice has a chance to be heard. So, are you ready to play your part?

If you're passionate about promoting diversity in filmmaking and want to learn how to connect with likeminded individuals, be sure to check out the workshop 'Indie Film Composing: Finding Filmmakers' by Daisy Coole. This workshop will guide you through the process of finding filmmakers who share your values and are committed to amplifying diverse voices in the industry.