Paul Feig Ignites a Powderkeg of Diversity

Ghostbusters

With his new digital content company, Paul Feig looks to make room for a variety of fresh voices.

A hunger for varying points of view will only be satisfied when it proves profitable. As with most progressive movements, you have to show the suits that embracing a spectrum of voices will ultimately line their pockets. Once that’s accomplished, real change will be witnessed.

To make that happen you need men and women within the industry to jumpstart that engine. Frances McDormand’s Academy Award speech was a tiny scream in a sea of screams championing inclusion through contractual guile. She’s made it, and with two words (“Inclusion Rider”) she offered a little aid to those desperate to join her.

That’s how change happens. One hand reaching out to another. Grab on.

Paul Feig, who has made a career out of producing blockbuster comedies starring women, is launching a new digital content company determined to be a guiding voice for diversity. According to Deadline, Powderkeg will be a safe haven for female and LGBTQ creators and filmmakers of color. Feig has already committed to hosting inclusion riders in all his Feigco Entertainment productions, and will carry the policy into this new venture.

Addressing the importance of corporate compassion, Feig expressed his goals for Powderkeg:

“It has long been a goal of mine to create an outlet for new and little-heard voices, both in front of and behind the camera. Entertainment needs to be fully representative of our entire population, and I am thrilled to have this outlet to help empower and bring exposure to as many distinct and varied new voices as possible.”

Powderkeg will remain separate from Feigco entertainment. The company will be spearheaded by CEO Laura Fischer, the previous head of productions and development at Yahoo. Their goal is to be a place where talent can go to nurture ideas for both scripted and unscripted series.

Fischer explained further:

“Paul has long championed the irrepressible power of women in comedy and his eye for talent is unparalleled. I’m excited to bring Paul’s commitment to empowering diverse voices and their unique brand of comedy to the digital space. Now is the perfect moment in time to explore the surprising, authentic, and hilarious stories that have yet to be told.”

Feig has never wavered to a challenge. His female-led Ghostbusters took on the fury of a stunted fan community that refused to accept change. In a climate where the pitchforks come out at the first leaked image from a closed set, Feig rose to the childish rage being directed towards him. That film might not have been the massive box office success that he wanted, but he really stirred the pot of Twitter rage.

After a hundred years of one predominant point of view, a shift in voices was bound to be rocky. It does not have to be this hard. Another highlight from the 90th Academy Awards was the montage of dreamers in which Kumail Nanjiani detailed his life experience with film:

“Some of my favorite movies are about straight white dudes by straight white dudes. Now, straight white dudes can watch movies starring me, and you relate to that! It’s not that hard — I’ve done it my whole life.”

Us straight white dudes in the audience need a good slap. One right after the other. We have to wake up to the world around us, and it takes champions like McDormand, Nanjiani, and Feig to knock us out of our stupor. How they navigate their success will pave the way for others to follow. The parade started by companies like Powderkeg will only grow in strength.

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Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.