create Finalist / 2019

The Campus to Career Initiative

The Campus to Career Initiative

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Women In Film

Entertainment is one of LA's biggest industries, yet its leadership does not accurately represent the people of LA: 23% of leadership positions are held by women; women of color, 5%. Women In Film, in partnership with The California State University Entertainment Alliance, will launch the Campus to Career Initiative for women from underrepresented communities in LA County. These students will receive engaged, personalized guidance through their journeys from internship to employment in Hollywood


What does your organization do?

Women In Film advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries — to achieve parity and transform culture.

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • The California State University Entertainment Alliance

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

“After years of getting ‘no’s’ by all of the grants you’ve ever heard of, we persisted and received Women In Film Finishing Fund cash flow during the post production of my debut feature, JOSH (Against The Grain), a foreign language mystery thriller shot in Pakistan. The year was 2012, and that lucky year, I requested WIF to introduce me to their Netflix contact, which they did without hesitation. Netflix was a relatively new player on the block back then. What resulted was a distribution deal from Netflix and an introduction to a bigger digital aggregator. The film was the first Pakistani film to be on Netflix, be in the permanent selection of the Library of Congress and 3 years later, it is still running in festivals and on SVOD platforms around the world. It was more than the money that made the Finishing Funding so important. It was the symbolism. What we needed desperately then was validation. Women In Film’s ‘yes’ broke the pattern of ‘no’s.’ In a lot of ways, that was both the tipping point of the journey of the film - and for me - in the business. Don’t ever underestimate what organizational validation and support means to an independent film. It takes a lot to float in the indie world, and every chance of support can help keep talented filmmakers above water. Take a risk on us and we will take the risks that cinema needs to stay alive and thriving.”

Women In Film Member Iram Parveen Bilal

Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)
  • Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to create?

If the entertainment industry is to become fully representative of the world for which it creates content, the historically selective pipeline through which Hollywood finds its labor force must be expanded intentionally from student age through senior-level hires. In this pilot phase, the Campus to Career Initiative (CCI) will consist of regular professional development workshops, one-on-one advisement, and individualized job strategies for a cohort of selected students. In conjunction, CCI will develop a training course for entertainment companies interested in expanding their workforces to truly represent the city and county.

The size and diversity of the CSU student population are profound. In 2017, 484,297 students attended 23 campuses across the State with 127,366 of them in Los Angeles County. 21 of 23 CSU campuses are Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) with at least a 25% Latinx student enrollment. CSU students largely come from California and mostly remain in the state after graduation, applying the skills and knowledge they have learned to help California’s economy thrive. Nearly 13,000 Cal State students are annually working towards entertainment arts and media focused degrees.

However, even with this kind of early support, across the entertainment industry and ascending its chains of command, women of color remain underrepresented in all positions, especially positions of power. According to 2017 US Census Data, the City of Los Angeles is 50% women, and 72% communities of color. And in a telling example of the LA student population, CSULA is comprised of 58% women students and 94% students of color. In the 2019 report, “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair” by USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative, data show that at the executive levels of the six largest entertainment companies, women make up only 23% of leadership (across C-suite, boards, and executive film teams) and women of color, 5%.

The initial CCI cohort of 30 women students will be selected through The CSUEA’s internship program and have a demonstrated interest in an executive career path. CCI will begin its curriculum design process in the early Fall of 2019 for both the workshops for students and trainings for companies. Student workshops will include basic skill building such as resumes and interviewing for entertainment, but also issues prioritized by WIF such as understanding gender bias and confidence building. Participant applications will open in late Fall, with the aim of selecting participants for the beginning of Spring semester 2020. The program for students will formally take place over one year. By the end of one year, participants will be equipped with a deep skill set to help them excel at interviews and internships, and will have had opportunities to put these skill set to use. Company trainings will be planned for a 2020 start as well, informed and partially delivered by CCI student participants, and delivered to companies partnering with The CSUEA.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Our evaluation will be based on feedback from participants on how the program elevated their confidence and abilities, the number of interviews and meetings arranged within program parameters, and ultimately any resulting hires. We will also be tracking the number of companies signed on to take the hiring trainings, and how many new candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, and any CCI participants, they interview and ultimately hire. Again, because we know this type of preparation can’t be complete within a year, we anticipate a 100% success rate in securing job interviews and general meetings, and would aim for a 10% hire rate (or 3 participants) within the first year. Following this first program year, we would like to develop a CCI Alumni Program that continues to not only supports program grads but also ensure they can support each other while paying it forward to become future CCI mentors to the next generation of locally-based industry leaders.