create / 2021

Building a More Diverse Future for Film and Television through Reel Start

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Reel Start

Reel Start is an experiential learning program launched in 2016 that works with high school age students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the entertainment industry. Each year Reel Start selects twelve deserving applicants and has them collaborate w


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

  • City of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Reel Start is working to address the lack of entry points to the entertainment industry available to the diverse youth living within the city of Los Angeles. A 2018 study by the Center for Competitive Workforce found more than 306,000 direct jobs in the entertainment industry, and while 49.7% of the county identifies as non white, a 2019 UCLA study found that women and minorities remain drastically underrepresented both in front and behind the camera. There are a multitude of causes for the issue but the Reel Start focuses on three main barriers. 1. Introduction of Opportunity: Unless you come from an industry background it’s difficult to comprehend the vast number of careers available in the entertainment industry. 2. Entry Barrier: A lack of soft skills and inability to take low paying internships that block many from being able to get in the door. 3. Lack of Guidance: Lack of personal connections and professional mentors

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Reel Start is an experiential learning program designed for high schoolers between the ages of 16 and 20. Using an application distributed at LAUSD schools Reel Start recruits twelve students to form a cohort and we take that group through the production of their own short film in collaboration with a wide array of industry professionals. Over the course of the program, our students learn about the many elements that go into creating a film. Students work together to decide on an issue they want to focus on, and develop the idea for their film. Once the idea has been chosen, students collaborate with a professional screenwriter and producer to create a first draft of a script. They then attend hands-on workshops, visit major film and television sets, and meet with A-list guest speakers. It culminates with the production of their own short film. When Covid struck Reel Start was able to pivot to a virtual classroom and animation production the Los Angeles program encountered a major technology gap. While our students were eager the lack of access to broadband and laptops meant we had to suspend the LA2020 program. These same technology short comings were not experience by our Toronto program which lead to the successful piloting of our virtual program there. We now look to bring this virtual program to LA by addressing the technology gap head on with our LA2050 proposal.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

24
Direct impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Los Angeles is Hollywood’s backyard and the entertainment industry should be represent the diverse faces that are born and raised here. If we can see a shift in the industry we will see higher employment, more diverse stories being told, and experiences being represented. We will see media that reflects our diverse faces and voices.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Reel Start is entering its 5th cycle this fall. As a young program, we are just beginning to see meaningful impact data as our original cohort completes their degrees and prepare to enter the work force. To track data and impact we actively keep in touch with our alumni and have been polling them each year year. We track a number of data points but our primary success indicators are the following: Percentage of Reel Start Alumni that have completed high school Percentage of Reel Start Alumni Enrolled in College: Percentage of Reel Start Alumni Pursuing Entertainment Based Degrees Percentage of Reel Start Alumni Who Complete College Alumni Employed in Entertainment Industry

Which of the create metrics will you impact?​

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Global cultural and economic influence (“soft power”)

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to LEARN