Steve McQueen: 'The ethnic imbalance on UK film sets is blindingly wrong'
Updated: Aug 12, 2020
The UK film industry has to change, says movie director Steve McQueen. He has accused the British Film Industry of being 'shameful' for not employing a more diverse workforce. He insists that the UK is far behind America in representing its BAME population, criticising those who don't challenge the lack of diversity. He says 'It's not normal.'
In an interview in The Observer, McQueen highlights the dominance of white workers on British film sets. 'If I hear, oh it's terrible one more time...' What he wants to see is change. 'It's blatant racism.' He says. 'Fact!' McQueen dedicated his most recent film Small Axe to the memory of George Floyd, whose death caused a racial shift in the hearts of many and has forced many people into having a new conversation about race.
Mr McQueen says he was taken aback when he walked onto the film set of a friend in the UK and noticed how little BAME crew representation there was. It is a normal matter of fact for many BAME film and TV crew. Most BAME crew are on jobs that can run up to 6 months long and they may be the only BAME crew member, it is something they deal with and ignore to a large degree to get on with their day, it is probably something many of their non BAME colleagues see but don't take in.
When Steve McQueen created his most recent project Small Axe in London, he made efforts to ensure there was as diverse a crew as possible. He is clear that there needs to be better processes in place in the filming industry to ensure a more diverse crew. 'There is no infrastructure to support and hire BAME crew.' he says and he's fed up with it. He also acknowledges the lack of BAME Heads of Departments.
"Basically, if you want to examine race and class in the UK," He says start by going in a film set..."
Steve McQueen is an award winning black British film director. His films include Widows, 12 Years A Slave and Shame. His most recent work filmed in London and the UK is Small Axe - a series of mini films.
You can read the full newspaper article here