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Best Practices: Hiring Department Heads

In ReFrame’s 2021 report on Gender-Balanced Hiring in the top 100 films, the numbers revealed a continuing disparity in key below-the-line roles. In particular, heads of department on larger budget projects were overwhelmingly white and male. Only 6 films out of 100 had female cinematographers.

Four women on a film set watching a monitor
"I know it’s harder for women to be given a chance as a DOP, even when they are very talented."
Jane Campion
Academy Award Winning Director

Here, we share content from The Inclusion Rider template policy as a starting point for Best Practice recommendations for hiring department heads.


A title saying Inclusion Riders in Hollywood

Recruiting Plan:  Before the commencement of the hiring process for off-screen roles, or as early in that process as is feasible, the Company, and those charged with hiring for off-screen roles, in consultation with Artist and/or Producer (as needed), shall develop a plan to invite individuals from under-represented backgrounds to seek off-screen positions.  This may involve outreach to applicable unions and guilds as well as organizations whose mission involves identifying opportunities for writers, producers, and crew from under-represented backgrounds and should include a deliberate effort to consider those who have been affected by intersectional discrimination, e.g., Black, Indigenous, or Non-Black women of color.

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Setting Benchmarks:  Pursuant to this process, the Company and Artist and/or Producer (as needed) should set benchmarks or inclusive hiring targets for hiring qualified individuals from under-represented backgrounds for off-screen roles.  In so doing, the Company should seek guidance from EXPERT and/or COUNSEL and may consider the geographic location of filming, local, state, or national demographics, whether the Picture is relying on crew hired locally or crew being brought in from outside locations, including the composition of the pool of qualified candidates, recent similar productions, and any other relevant factors.



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Ava DuVernay directing at tap on set
Pay a lot of attention to your DP and their philosophy. The DP runs the crew and they’re in charge of hiring a lot of departments that you’re interacting with all day. If it is a guy, make sure they are inclusive because no matter what example you’re leading as a director, that person is equally leading by example to a lot of the crew.
Nisha Ganatra
Director, Late Night
A cast and crew on set

The individual(s) responsible for hiring for off-screen roles will interview individuals from under-represented groups for 40-50% of off-screen positions, encompassing as many roles as possible, and including the following:

Writer, Writer Assistant, Casting Director, Physical Production Executive & Producer, Art Design & Direction, Director of Photography/Cinematographer, Production Designer, Sound, 1st Assistant Director, 2nd Assistant Director, Camera Operator, Prop Master, Intimacy Coordinator, Costume Designer, Line Producer, Location Manager, (Unit) Production Manager, Music Supervisor, Composer, Editor, Sound Editor, Key Grip, Gaffer, Post-Production Supervisor, Visual Effects, Script Supervisor, Stunt Coordinator, Makeup Artist, Hair Stylist, Caterer, Colorist, Production Assistant, Marketing, and Public Relations.

The interview process should include an awareness of intersectional discrimination, and in particular, a deliberate effort to seek out and consider individuals from those groups that have been most marginalized or disadvantaged.

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