This video clip is from the fourth season (2015) of Project Greenlight, an American documentary television series on HBO that follows first-time filmmakers as they are given the chance to direct a movie. In this video segment, a group of mostly White male producers, including Matt Damon, famous actor and one of the executive producers of the show, are sitting together evaluating the projects. There is one other (White) woman, but the only person of color in the group is Effie Brown, an experienced Hollywood producer who has produced seventeen feature films. As they are discussing one of the films, Effie Brown brings up a concern that the only black person in the movie is a prostitute that is slapped by her white pimp, and that it may be important to be aware of who is selected to direct a scene and characters like that, because of the representational significance of that being the only black person on screen in the film. Matt Damon interrupts to argue that the directing team had already talked about the same issue that Effie was bringing up, and she disagrees. He then proceeds to interrupt and talk over her again, explaining what he views diversity in films to be, saying, “When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not the casting of the show,” meaning that diversity concerns only matter when thinking about who is onscreen, and not who is behind the scenes writing, directing, and producing movies.
Matt Damon interrupts and talks over Effie Brown, even as he misunderstands and disagrees with her larger point about the need for diversity behind the camera. What racial, gender, and class privileges does he have that allow him to do this?
Why is behind the camera diversity (such as directors, producers, and writers) just as important as more visible onscreen diversity?
Who makes movies in Hollywood? Can you name famous directors, producers, and screen writers who are not white men? Why are there so few women and women of color in these roles? Why is it important for different people to be able to create and tell stories?
When you think about the people you see on mainstream television and film, what groups of people are not frequently represented, or only portrayed in limited ways? How does this impact viewers?