To combat Hollywood's frequent typecasting of Hispanics as drug dealers and gangbangers, Pure Flix and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference are teaming up to provide more opportunities for Hispanic actors to star in leading roles in film and TV that better represent the richness of the community.
When asked about the dearth of Hispanics in leading roles in film and television, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, Pure Flix Vice President of Strategic Alliance, Franklin Santagate, said in an interview with The Christian Post that he believes, "it's simply because they haven't had the opportunities, and I also think that they haven't had the relationships that are necessary. "
The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism bolstered this observation in a 2010 U.S. Census report which found that Hispanics purchased 25 percent of all movie tickets sold in the U.S., or $1 trillion in sales, but were represented by only about 5 percent of speaking roles in those films.
The report further indicated, "Hispanics clearly are the most underserved racial and ethnic group by the film industry."
Santagate said Pure Flix and the NHCLC hope to affect change in the film industry through the examination of cultural architypes in regards to the aesthetics, personas, and perspectives of Hispanic roles in film.
The Christ-centered partnership is seeking Hispanic actors who have "the love and hope of Christ" and desire to work on projects that uplift the community.
In a Facebook Live Pure Flix broadcast posted earlier this month to the movie studio's Facebook page, NHCLC President and Pastor Samuel Rodriguez sat down with Santagate and Pure Flix COO Steve Fedyski to express his concerns about the current representation of Hispanics in movies as well as his excitement about the new partnership to help turn things around.
"The depictions of characters and personalities — the idea of the community — hasn't been well-represented. So I think this alliance is just very powerful," Rodriguez said.
"What if the values of the Latino-faith community can actually be expressed in a way that's measurable and viable and lines up with who we really are?" he asked. "We're not all gangbangers, man. We're all not drug traffickers from Latin America. We're God-fearing, hard-working people, and this alliance will expose the reality of the community, and engage in a way we have never been engaged before. So we're excited."
Santagate told CP that Pure Flix will be, "asking the NHCLC to give us information about the personas and perspectives [of the Hispanic community] as [they] relate to cultural issues for our film projects. We're going to be working with them to be able to identify aesthetic talent for writing, acting, directing, production, etc. They're going to become our conduit for saying, 'Here's a talent we have in this area.' We're also going to be working at developing a Hispanic film festival next year.
"To help support that, we're going to be opening our doors to a couple of things. One: a paid internship. We have 12 divisions in Pure Flix, and we're also doing four films a year, so we have lots of sets that we are involved in. We have a wealth of opportunities for those interested, who have some degree of training, to have a paid internship and be able to explore this industry."
Santagate praised the partnership between the NHCLC and Pure Flix, saying that both had significant influence within the Hispanic market — influence that will be used with care. "We really want to engage that segment, work with them, and portray them properly, accurately."
"The NHCLC has merged with CONEL, and the NHCLC in the United States represents 40,118 churches. ... But outside the U.S. that number grows to 550,000 churches," he added.
Santagate further emphasized that Pure Flix is a global company, and made reference to the studio's 2014 hit film "God's Not Dead," which he said had been seen in more than 100 countries.
When it comes to a means of quantifying the overall results of the partnership, Santagate said that the talent pool of writers, actors, directors and producers must first be determined.
An upcoming film festival will start that process.
"The film festival is designed to gather that [talent pool] so that we can ascertain the size of [it]," he said. "Once we get that talent pool then we can move into internships, and then, of course, if there's writers, actors, who are seasoned — and of course there are those out there operating in Hollywood already, but we're looking at the up-and-coming talent. We'll also be looking at actually hiring them for our projects. Or if they bring a film to us, a short or whatever, we might see that it's something that can become a larger theatrical."
"Right now we have 100 percent commitment on both sides to explore this new relationship so that we can determine what size of a talent pool [there is], and from there we can actually begin to build some metrics that are qualitative."