Diversity and inclusion are the key to delivering engaging content, says Mill Film’s Lauren McCallum.

A dramatic sea of change is taking place in the creative industry, driven by a voracious appetite for high production-value content, the likes of which have never before been seen.

Lauren McCallum

Lauren McCallum

The demand is putting stress on the limited supply of talented VFX artists and technologists who play an integral role in the creative process. For forward-focused VFX organisations, the industry’s challenge is also an opportunity to expand the boundaries of creativity through diversity.

It goes without saying that diverse talent leads to diverse creativity, which enables studios to respond better to a broad range of briefs.

The reality is that we watch entertainment content because we want the suspension of disbelief. We want to experience something new and different. If you don’t change the input, the likelihood of really reaching that full creative potential is limited. We need to make sure that we provide the greatest possible breadth of creativity we can.

People don’t often, however, talk about diversity as a business imperative. Moreover, it’s very difficult to turn around old habits.

Whilst there has been lots of talk about diversity the reality of making active and decided change is challenging.

As a new studio, Mill Film is privileged in this respect and has been able to commit to the creation of a truly diverse team from the offset.

Thankfully we have not had to change the way we do things, we were able to start a fresh and combat the talent shortage by tapping into an extensive pool of people from a broad range of different backgrounds.

This perspective has shaped Mill Film’s commitment to offering true differentiation. Essentially, this is about how to meet the bottom-line mission of VFX organisations that are serving an increasingly complex entertainment marketplace.

That being said, diversity cannot be achieved by accident. Mill Film has set determined and aggressive targets to build a diverse community.

The studio made a commitment to reach a gender balance in its creative workforce in which women account for 30% of key creative roles in 2018, rising to 40% in 2019 and 50% in 2020. At the end of 2018, Mill Film has already exceeded this target with their female artist community currently at 41%.

Throughout the industry the message of creative diversity has been well received. The appetite for building diverse crews is apparent and Mill Film hopes to lead by example by continuing to put it at the very heart of the studio.

It feels important that these conversations continue to be had and that the conversations convert into action so it’s no longer something that has to be discussed.

Lauren McCallum is global managing director at VFX studio Mill Film.