The new initiative for promoting better inclusion and diversity was held across some of the biggest VFX studios and coolest venues in the heart of London
3D Artist wraps up the first week-long event from ACCESS: VFX
ACCESS: VFX kicked off on monday 25 september 2017 for the first time ever, bringing together industry leaders across the mill, Double negative, MPC, Framestore, UK Screen Alliance, Escape Studios, Blue Zoo, ILM and more.
With a commitment to encourage and champion diversity in the VFX industry, the movement is led by the mill’s head of learning and development, simon Devereux, and celebrates different perspectives, culture, ideas, backgrounds and people.
“For the first time in our history the VFX community has joined forces to create ACCESS: VFX, an industry movement with one common goal: to increase diversity and promote better inclusion within the creative sector,” says simon Devereux. “That’s eight world-renowned VFX studios, seven industry institutions and two government bodies. As a collective we have recognised that to create real change we need to stop acting as individual studios and come together as one voice so that the inclusion priority cannot be ignored.”
This year, the event was held during national inclusion week with the theme of ‘Connect for inclusion’ across venues and studios including the mill, Framestore, BFI, Zero one, MPC and more, and 3D Artist was there to experience the week firsthand.
An engaging mental health workshop brought an active start to the monday, followed by an interesting talk on inclusivity from a male perspective and short film showings. Tuesday, meanwhile, saw a panel discussion led by Badass Women’s Hour focussing on women in VFX, followed by a disability equality workshop that taught different ways of thinking in a team.
Wednesday began with a careers fair attended by an incredible 150 students from underrepresented schools looking to break into the world of CG. Each student was paired with a mentor from the industry to help guide and advise upon their future prospects. At the same time, a talk about the experiences of transitioning from male to female by Elle transgender columnist Rhyannon styles took place at the mill, followed by a screening and discussion on the making of Black Boys Don’t Cry, a film
For the first time in our history the VFX community has joined forces to create Access: VFX, an industry movement with one common goal: to increase diversity and promote better inclusion within the creative sector
Simon Devereux, Head of learning and development, The Mill
by IGGYLDN, which explores the roles of masculinity in the 21st century. Then, an interesting talk was held about digital filmmaking collective People of Colours, from founder nadira Amrani, as well as a thought-provoking mental health awareness panel to finish off the evening.
Other events at ACESS: VFX involved looking inwards at the animation and VFX industry themselves. isobel stenhouse, production supervisor, feature animation at Double negative, discussed the working conditions and subsequent mental health impact in the two industries, and highlighted some action plans and positive steps that managers can undertake for their team. Animated women uk ended the week with a panel called ‘meet the Parents’, which explored the challenges facing parents working in VFX and how employers can be more encouraging for working parents. Hosted by Animated women uk VFX Chair Louise Hussey, you can hear more about the panel and read our interview with Hussey in the next issue of 3D Artist.
For a first event, Acess: VFX successfully illustrated the power of soho when it comes to opening up conversations for equality and diversity. “ACCESS: VFX is about taking action, challenging and calling out both our creative community and educational establishments,” says simon Devereux. “We firmly believe that working as a collective whole is the missing link to creating real change. We proved that in just five days of events and inspiring talks we can engage an entire industry. It’s easy to talk about ‘getting into schools’ – we did that in a day and are already planning activity with school careers advisors and working to connect aspiring creatives to industry mentors.
“Since the event, feedback has been refreshing and we have begun to change the perception of diversity and inclusion from being a fluffy, nice-to-have worthy cause to an absolute, total and utter imperative if we are to succeed both creatively and commercially.”
Looking to the future, Devereux reveals that more activities are in the pipeline, “we’re now beginning the process of growing ACCESS: VFX as an industry body rather than a working group formed to put on an annual event. With monthly activity already scheduled with both a focus on outreach and studio engagement, i can safely say that ACCESS: VFX isn’t going anywhere.”
Keep up to date with the organisation at accessvfx.org.
People of Colours founder Nadira Amrani speaks at The Mill
This panel on mental health aimed to raise awareness and understanding
Isobel Stenhouse from Double Negative discussed improving working conditions
Radio show The Badass Women’s Hour held a panel discussion at The Mill