The Alliance of Documentary Editors is set to launch a new initiative aimed at making documentary edit rooms more inclusive industry-wide via a public, national database of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) documentary editors.
Launching officially on June 3 as part of the Full Frame Film Festival, the database is designed to be a fully searchable, user-friendly website that will include a range from highly experienced editors to rising assistant editors. The end users of producers, creators and filmmakers can search the database to expand their roster of hires.
According to a 2020 statistic from the Center for Media & Social Impact, in association with the International Documentary Association. Washington, D.C., 87% of documentary editors are white.
“As the doc community reckons with its lack of inclusion and equity, we want to make sure that the edit room is a key part of this conversation and that BIPOC editors have access to real opportunities,” stated the Alliance in announcing the initiative. “The doc community is currently mostly white, and this has led to an overwhelming system of white creatives mentoring and promoting other white creatives already in their circles. Without a fundamental and intentional effort to provide tangible long-term support to BIPOC talent, these systemic issues will remain. It will take all of us to make lasting change.”
The launch of the database during the festival will feature veteran documentary editors as guest speakers including Sam Pollard, Jean Tsien, and Lillian Benson.
“What normally happens is when directors and producers are hiring people, they hire who they know,” Pollard said in a statement. “In this business the majority of filmmakers have been white, and they usually hire white editors, white assistant editors, white apprentice editors. I think this directory and website will be absolutely invaluable because it will give directors and producers the opportunity to see that there is a rich diversity of editors of color that they do not know about. We all have the responsibility to support up and coming young assistants and apprentices of color [and] to give them a leg up and to get them into the editing room to develop long and sustained careers in this business.”
The initiative was spearheaded by doc editors Carla Gutierrez and David Teague with an advisory committee of other renowned doc editors including Jason Pollard, Miranda Yousef, Malika Zouhali-Worrall, Francisco Bello, Sabrina S. Gordon, Steven Golliday, Kim Roberts and Carlos Rojas. The database is also supported by Alliance partners at the Sundance Institute, International Documentary Association (IDA) and the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship.
In addition to the database the group has also started to engage with streamers, distributors and production companies to promote concrete steps to help make their edit rooms more equitable. The Alliance is also promoting a mid-tier editing position — the associate editor — that would encourage mentorship and help rising editors gain experience and networks. There will also be seminars for producers and in-person mixers to support and connect BIPOC editors.