LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- GUN NEUTRAL, a new initiative exploring ways entertainment companies and storytellers can collaborate to counterbalance the often-glamorized portrayal of gun culture in all media formats, was launched today. Gun Neutral gives the creative community access to a clear leadership opportunity: mitigating the depiction of gun violence through media.
Experts in gun culture and safety, media researchers, and representatives from entertainment companies small and large are joining forces to create a number of Gun Neutral programs including:
- scalable firearm reduction,
- coordinated buybacks,
- investment in community arts programs where gun violence is most prevalent,
- and research for filmmakers to aid in their evaluation of creative choices.
Gun Neutral acknowledges Hollywood's outsized influence on culture and society and accelerates the process of accounting for it. As such, the first Gun Neutral program is part offset, part investment:
For each prop gun that appears in a production, financiers and producers will add a "GUN NEUTRAL" budget line item to cover the cost of destroying real-world guns and to invest in community-based arts programs targeting youth in the most gun violence-ridden communities. An average of $15 per prop gun will be charged.
Level Forward, a new breed entertainment company formed earlier this year through a partnership between Killer Content and Abigail Disney, announced today at the NY Film Conference and at SOCAP18 that every film and show, on any screen or stage where the company tells a story, is now Gun Neutral.
"Level Forward has a focus on amplifying underrepresented voices and today we're making a formal commitment to include the interests of youth and survivors of gun violence in that commitment," said Adrienne Becker, CEO of Level Forward. "While artists must be free to honestly portray the world in which we live, that privilege comes with a great responsibility to do our part in advancing gun safety."
Added Level Forward Chair Abigail Disney, "Hollywood now has a way to take responsibility and make up for the casual romance we have been having with guns, a romance that has promoted them as beautiful, powerful, sexy and alluring in the mainstream consciousness."
The first three Gun Neutral properties from Level Forward are destroying 1,660 guns through Gun Neutral partner One Less Gun, an international organization started by artist Carl McCrow with the goal of taking illicit and surplus weapons out of circulation.
"Producing a work that is Gun Neutral is a direct and tangible way for the creative community to offset illegal and unsafe access to real-world firearms," said One Less Gun founder Carl McCrow. "This new form of accreditation will help raise awareness and increase the artists' social responsibility." Video game companies, music labels and individuals who make short films, digital videos, and other art forms can also designate their work as Gun Neutral by making an offset donation.
The first three Gun Neutral properties are:
- AMERICAN WOMAN, produced by Killer Films/First Generation/Elevation and Level Forward, the directorial debut of Emmy nominated writer Semi Chellas, producer and showrunner of Mad Men, based on the Pulitzer-shortlisted novel of the same name by Susan Choi. 69 guns appear on-screen… 690 guns are being destroyed*.
- HUMAN TERRAIN, the recently wrapped short film by AFI Directing Workshop for Women Director Parisa Barani in which an American anthropologist working in Iraq for a U.S. military project is accused of treason for befriending an Iraqi woman. 30 guns appear on-screen… 300 guns are being destroyed*.
- ARMOR OF LIGHT, the 2015 Fork Films documentary about the story of conservative minister Rob Schenck's crusade to provoke questions about the religious right's love affair with guns will retroactively become GUN NEUTRAL. ARMOR filmmaker and Level Forward Chair Abigail Disney is donating funds to offset the 67 guns viewed on-screen in the film… 670 guns will be destroyed.
Additionally, a portion of these first Gun Neutral funds are being used to make an investment in scalable community-based arts clubs for youth in the nation's most at-risk, underserved neighborhoods.
Said filmmaker Semi Chellas, "Stories have enormous power — sometimes they even have the power to change the world. That's the joy — and the responsibility — we have as storytellers. Gun Neutral is exciting because it's a way for creative works to meaningfully engage with the real world while nurturing the artists and storytellers of the future."
On screens small and large, and in live entertainment, whether actively or passively consumed, there is a proven connection between media exposure, gun violence, and gunshot injuries. According to various studies from The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, over the past 20 years, the amount of gun violence in top-grossing PG-13 movies continues to grow, outpacing even top-grossing R-rated movies1, and tracks with an increasing number of fatalities from mass shootings, escalating since 20102. In the U.S., over one hundred people die daily from gun violence.
"Popular culture, as embodied in movies, television, and video games, influences the firearms that people own. Media tends to glorify the use of guns and weapons, especially over the last 20 years, and that could influence people, especially youth because they get socialized, in part, through entertainment media," said Dan Romer, Research Director at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at University of Pennsylvania.
Level Forward is working with several partner organizations, including The Annenberg Public Policy Center, Evolve USA, and Tower 26.Agency, to establish a Gun Neutral working group. Members will be announced in the coming months. Interested companies, individuals and institutions should contact Gun Neutral Program Manager Brent Zachary for more information.
Level Forward is a new breed entertainment company producing creatively excellent, multi-platform stories to drive industry and economic transformation. Guided by a story-driven / impact-minded model, the company is committed to inclusion and innovation throughout all creative and business processes. Together with Oscar, Emmy and Tony-winning producers, visual artists, impact specialists, and seasoned business executives, Level Forward is working to design an ecosystem of creativity, profit and purpose that extends the footprint of ethical business.
1 https://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/publication/the-continuing-rise-of-gun-violence-in-pg-13-movies-1985-to-2015/, The Annenberg Public Policy Center The Continuing Rise of Gun Violence in PG-13 Movies, Daniel Romer, Patrick E. Jamieson. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Posted January 11, 2017.
2 https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/mass-shootings-in-america/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b9b45ada0f83 Washington Post, The Terrible Numbers That Grow With Every Mass Shooting, By Bonnie Berkowitz, Denise Lu and Chris Alcantara, Updated Sept. 14, 2018.
*The number of guns may vary depending on final cut of the film.
SOURCE Gun Neutral Initiative