At Scriptd, we know that stories have immense power.
We can use stories to tell complex redemptive stories that reflect our modern world, or we can use stories to divide and reinforce stereotypes. We can use stories that portray multi-dimensional characters that represent our diverse world, or tell stories from a single perspective furthering harmful narratives.
We believe that stories used for good can shape how we view our world, therefore making the world a bit more empathetic, a bit more informed, and a bit more understanding of others.
And research done on media effects is with us on this. One of our favorite examples is the Will and Grace effect. Research showed that the commercial and critical hit TV show in the 90’s Will and Grace, with it’s gay character leads, significantly shifted attitudes and reduced homophobia.
So, we believe that stories — specifically diverse stories — can and do shape the world around us. And with that belief, we are on a quest to empower underrepresented and overlooked creators to share their stories.
Of the represented writers in Hollywood, only 14% of writers are members of a minority ethnic group, even though ethnic minorities make up over 40% of the population. That means 86% of stories we consume are written from a single viewpoint.
And it’s not just writers. Over a 9 year study women had less than a 30% of speaking roles and characters of any racial minority group made up just 29/2% of speaking roles. Also, despite public outrage and press, the numbers barely budged over 9 years.
Even purchasing power does little to move the needle, Latinx have 3% speaking roles despite buying 23% of all movie tickets.
We don’t want to overwhelm you with numbers…but they don’t get better in any category. For example, women are just 18% of directors, producers, editors and cinematographers in the top 250 grossing films in 2017.
I think you get it — there is an issue. And the issue goes beyond a moral obligation to make sure that the stories we tell people are representative of the world around us.
This disparity and blatant exclusion of the majority of the American public translate to the box office. Last summer was the lowest summer box office in 11 years. What films do well? You guessed it — studies show that films with diverse casts do 2x better in the box office. Also, films with female leads regularly outearn male leads.
Why It Matters
We started by telling you how stories shape the world around us. Stories also shape our view of ourselves. Research shows that “if you can see it, you can be it.” Research consistently shows that people are affected by what they see on screen — and showing well-rounded complex characters make a genuine impact on our lives. One of our favorite examples is that after The Hunger Games movies came out, archery classes for girls doubled and of the new archers, 70% said they were inspired to take up archery because of characters they saw on screen, mentioning Hunger Games protagonist Katniss Everdeen by name.
With women writing bold stories about women, we take another step away from the one dimensional women often portrayed on screen. When people of color write stories, our society gets an important dose of empathy for viewpoints rarely represented. With diverse stories, we validate the unheard voices that are all too often left out of the conversation.
We Are Committed to Creating Long Term Solutions
- This is a systemic issue; the way Hollywood finds stories is ineffective, exclusionary, and lowers the financial upside (last summer’s box office was the lowest in over 10 years). There have been some solutions presented, but we feel that none are holistic, long-term, or truly mend a system that perpetuates privilege and is built for a certain viewpoint.
- We think stories matter and there should be a variety of options to enjoy a good story. We’re looking beyond the screen recognizing that storytelling can exist in unexpected places and great stories are engaging despite the medium.
- We believe that there has to be a better way for talented writers to get their stories told. We believe that working in Hollywood should have nothing to do with where you went to school, who your parents know, or your gender/race/sexual orientation/beliefs.
- We believe that story matters. And because of that, storytellers matter.
We have some ideas on what that looks like. And we’re no rookies at this either — we’ve optioned 7 films, 2 TV shows and a webseries (90% written by women and people of color) among other success and our team consists of executive producers, writers, talent, and entrepreneurs.
The journey of Scriptd is just beginning and we’re excited to be part of Matter and write the next chapter of our story. We hope you’ll join us.
To telling great stories,