With Peacock soaring, NBCU & Target brighten the spotlight on filmmakers of color
Amid Peacock’s explosive growth, the opportunities are bigger than ever for the second season of the Scene in Color Film Series.
The new season of the Scene in Color Film Series spotlights three new rising filmmakers / NBCUniversal
Media and entertainment giant NBCUniversal (NBCU) has teamed with Target for the return of the Scene in Color Film Series, a project the two organizations launched last year, which, together with producer Will Packer, aims to spotlight and mentor rising filmmakers of color.
This year, the two organizations scoured the internet to find the best up-and-coming filmmakers of color from across the country to tell their unique stories. Each of the three hand-selected creators have produced short films that will roll out on NBCU’s Peacock as well as Rotten Tomatoes, starting tomorrow.
'A spectrum of different lenses'
Tayo Amos, a California-based director and filmmaker who recently graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with a master’s degree in film production, tells the story of a Black jazz singer who takes a stand during the civil rights movement in America. Jane Chow, who brings a global perspective from having resided in Hong Kong, Berlin, Los Angeles and New York, takes viewers on a journey through the Covid-19 pandemic — through the eyes of a Chinese-American teen. Finally, Josh Leong, a Webby Award-winning writer, director and producer who attended NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, shines a light on Ethiopia’s growing crisis of children abandonment.
“Not only is the program diverse, and not only are the storytellers diverse, but the stories… really fill in a spectrum of different lenses,” says Peter Blacker, who serves as NBCU’s executive vice-president of agency partnerships as well as head of diversity, equity and inclusion for advertising and partnerships. “We have something that's music-focused, something that's a shared pandemic experience through a unique lens… followed up by a global story that is critically important for us to be aware of.”
Throughout the summer, viewers can tune in to see each filmmaker’s short as well as special one-on-one interviews with Will Packer, the producer known for comedy titles including Think Like A Man and Ride Along, who serves as the show’s host. The series will offer an inside look at each filmmaker’s selected work, creative process and personal backgrounds.
“We are better as an industry, a community and frankly as a country, when we elevate diverse voices,” said Packer in a statement shared with The Drum. “Returning to the Scene in Color film series to do exactly that is a privilege…It's incredible to see how we are expanding the program further showcasing the work of Tayo Amos, Jane Chow, and Josh Leong and their impactful stories.”
But the filmmakers don’t just get a chance to put their work into the world; as part of the program, they also receive in-depth mentoring from Packer himself — plus another pretty good perk: a blind script deal with NBCU.
Lessons learned from season one
NBCU and Target have learned a lot in the time since they rolled out last year’s Scene in Color series, which highlighted filmmakers Addison Wright, Ewurakua Dawson-Amoah and Kristian King. “When you start something the first time, you have a business plan, you have a whole bunch of objectives and you kind of hope that you're going to achieve them, but you don't have the experience of knowing what is going to work and what's not,” Blacker explains. “[But] we just saw a tremendous interest both on our platforms and on social media — [we got a lot of] feedback about the three stories and storytellers that we worked with, and that was a great motivation to say, ‘Okay, how can we make this bigger? What can we do going forward?’”
The biggest factor helping to make the 2022 Scene in Color series even more successful has been the growth of Peacock. Last month, when Comcast filed its Q1 earnings, it revealed that the ad-supported streaming platform ended the quarter with 28 million monthly active users and 13 million paid subscribers.
Blacker attributes much of the platform’s growth to the influx of diverse storytelling that it hosts. He points out that the top original show on the platform is Bel-Air, a reimagined take on the much-beloved 90s program starring Will Smith. “Bel-Air is…a universal story but has a cast and a crew that are reflective of the Black experience in America.” And it’s precisely the success of shows like Bel-Air, he claims, that has enabled the streaming service to engage fans in different ways across new programs. “It just creates an ecosystem that I don't think last year we had, because Peacock was still so new and we were just learning how this would all flow together.”
Now, Blacker believes that the scale and reach of Peacock and NBCU’s promotional channels will help propel this year’s filmmakers to new heights. “To be able to plug into the scale of NBCUniversal…platforms means that these stories truly get a wide audience and a chance to be seen,” he says.
To promote the 2022 series, NBCU’s Creative Partnerships program developed a 60-second spot in tandem with Target. It will run on Peacock via the platform’s Spotlight Ad tool.
“Target is thrilled to… support more amazing films with fresh perspectives that need to be seen and heard on the biggest stages,” said Maurice Cooper, the retailer’s senior vice-president of marketing, in a statement shared with The Drum. “As we aim to create more equity and representation within storytelling and media, this partnership has afforded us the opportunity to blaze new trails for the next generation of diverse creators.”
Blacker stresses that the new program is just one component of a much larger goal. “We are completely committed to being a home for diverse storytelling and being the leader in this space. And we want to continue to do that, and…do it at scale. And that commitment is unwavering.”
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