Distant Entertainment, the disability entertainment industry, is ready to make waves. The company – part of The Outlyer group, founded by singer and actor Emmanuel Kelly and Tim Lucas Allen in 2022 – aims to create industry accreditation for film productions in a bid to achieve a new standard of l industry for the minimum level of differences. skilled cast and crew who are hired per production.
Kelly, who will perform at the Locarno Festival, will join his Sunday panel on disability and inclusion in the audiovisual industry, where he will discuss the standard in more detail. The discussion, moderated by Danielle Turkov and also streamed live on the Festival website, will discuss the experiences of those working in the audiovisual industry with what is commonly seen as a disability, and explore new and enriching possibilities for inclusion. .
The company will also move into production, beginning work on its first feature in September, with talents of varying abilities making up 25% of the crew and more than 35% of the cast.
Outlyer is also expanding its management division, dedicated to representing talent within the music and film industry.
“And maybe even wider than that,” said Lucas Allen Variety. Emphasizing that even if the company thinks big, it wants its customers to do the same. While repeating their mantra, “allowing the world, differently”.
“Part of the strategy here is for writers and directors to consider you not because you’re disabled, but because you’re right for the role. It’s super important,” he said.
“There are a lot of handicaps that we don’t see. There’s a wealth of talent out there [but] they won’t talk about having them because they fear it will affect their careers.
While change is happening, it is also slow, he said. Mentioning the recent success of “CODA” at the Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and for the performance of Troy Kotsur, the first deaf man in history to win an Oscar.
“It was great what happened with Troy. But there’s not really a disability movement [even though], as Emmanuel would say, the disability community is the most diverse in the world. Everyone is part of it. »
Kelly was found as a child in a box on a battlefield bordering Iraq. Raised in an orphanage in Baghdad, he was later brought to Australia by humanitarian Moira Kelly, to become an Australian X-Factor sensation. Since then, he has performed with many artists, including Coldplay.
“He ended up becoming very good friends with Chris Martin. And Chris really became a mentor. Now Martin leads the advisory board for Outlyer.
“Emmanuel doesn’t like the word ‘handicapped’, he finds it disempowering. There are a lot of people who think that’s the right representation for them, but for him, that’s just not the case,” Allen said.
“He thinks the entertainment industry has been way behind that element of inclusion. There’s still a lot of work to be done, especially with people with disabilities. He’s experienced it firsthand when labels have openly told him : “Listen, we love you, you have a beautiful voice and you can sing, but we have a problem with your appearance”.
While the company wants to create a movement and educate people, it’s also essential to raise the bar of inclusivity for physical environments – including film festivals.
“We would like to reach out to each of them and talk about everything we do, and engage with people to be more on board with our principles,” Allen added, noting, however, that it’s not always a “easy win”.
“Accessibility is the last goal or a checkbox. We want to be a company that creates opportunities, jobs and tries to end the stigma of people with disabilities. And we need support within the industry to help create those opportunities,” he summed up.
“We have a mission and it is a difficult mission. But it’s also very exciting.
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