The Black Sound Society (BSS) is a group of professionals working across all grades in production and post-production film and television sound. We strive to promote and safeguard the interests of our members, keep them abreast of production methods and explore new technologies.
The BSS provides a network for advice to support those already established in the industry as well as offering help and guidance to the next generation of black sound technicians.
Currently there is ongoing momentum to defeat systemic, structural and institutional racism. Our industry is no exception. As sound professionals we find it necessary to help promote this long needed conversation, to share our voices, experiences and recommendations to improve the working conditions for black sound technicians.
We would like to request your help in achieving what we see as our mutual objectives which are as follows:
1. Increase the visibility of black people in sound and to be role models and mentors to new entrants.
2. Create more opportunities via:
More extensive apprenticeships for black trainees
Further work experience or internships for more established technicians who want to advance their careers or make lateral career moves.
3. To encourage producers, line producers, heads of departments and post-production houses to hire more black personnel on a regular basis (and not just on ‘black’ productions).
4. Address the issues of implicit and unconscious bias, since we are seen as a homogeneous group rather than individuals with their own unique skills and talents.
5. Establish measurable outcomes so that our objectives are sustainable and have a lasting effect for positive change.
One of the problems seems to be visibility, to combat this the BSS is compiling a database of technicians; including their years of experience and contact details.
This is an ongoing process, but we have attached the list that includes our current members and their work backgrounds which provide a useful guide for employees.
Production companies need to take action to find crew, to make the productions truly diverse. In order to achieve this we would like to discuss the following proposals:
Compliance Training - This should be standard in our industry, as it is in any other corporate workplace. Unconscious bias and diversity training would come under the general compliance umbrella. This has to be supported by an effective and rigorous complaints procedure.
ScreenSkills already offer the Trainee Finder scheme, which is similar to Jobfit and Ft2. We would suggest that the scheme is extended by a further year because those of us who graduated from Jobfit and Ft2 have benefited from that 2-year exposure to contacts. We would also suggest an additional year of pastoral care so that the new entrants aren’t just cast off to fend for themselves at the end of the apprenticeship.*
To insist that productions pay attention to racial diversity in the same way that the industry has put more effort into hiring women across non-traditional departments.
The BSS is already engaged in our own networking and mentoring, but we would be delighted to share our wealth of knowledge and experience with your diversity team.
Establishing an Impoverishment Fund. The nature of freelance work is unpredictable and a lot of people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds are forced to leave the industry in order to survive. We think a grant should be available to those whose situation meets the necessary criteria and who would fall out of the industry otherwise.*
* Would require extra funds and the commitment from industry organisations to help shape the future. These actions should be funded by production companies, audio facility houses, audio organisations, audio manufacturers, diary services, agents and independent diversity initiatives.
We are a group of unique individuals working in all aspects of sound.
The one thing we have in common apart from our love of the job, hard work, dedication and ambition is, unfortunately, our multiple stories of racism in the workplace.
We have our battle scars and hard-won victories and we have proven ourselves more than worthy. Those of us who are established want to be recognised, valued and employed. We also feel protective towards the future generations of black technicians and would like to make these battles a thing of the past; for the road they travel to not be so harsh.
We have more thoughts and suggestions but we believe this is a good place to start.
We would like to thank you again for opening the door to this conversation and we look forward to hearing from you in the near future to arrange a meeting or share ideas.