Association hopes to inspire aspiring filmmakers

The NAACP’s Hollywood bureau has announced a set of 2005 diversity initiatives geared specifically toward aspiring screenwriters and independent filmmakers.

Measures are primarily intended to benefit experienced minority artists who have difficulty maintaining footholds within the industry rather than entry-level talents, bureau exec director Vic Bulluck said.

Experience doesn’t count

“There are lots of extremely talented African-American artisans that have 10 to 15 years experience under their belts, and they are not on the same kind of trajectory,” he said. “An African-American sitcom gets canceled, you’ve got a whole writing staff that can’t find work. For some reason, the work they’ve done there in that world doesn’t translate over to being able to get work at any of the other shows.”

First initiative will provide scholarships and mentorships for students in master-level screenwriting programs, particularly those with educational backgrounds in civil and human rights. Program is the result of talks between Bulluck, former National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People prexy Kweisi Mfume and outgoing MPAA topper Jack Valenti.Scholarship details are still being worked out by university staffers and studio and TV network heads.

The bureau also is forging a relationship with the Independent Film Project to support and increase diversity storytelling in the indie community, where there are “potentially less obstacles than are found in the studio system,” Bulluck said.

Indies kudos

Measure coincides with the inauguration of an independent/foreign-lingo film category at this year’s NAACP Image Awards, which Bulluck has produced since 1986 and exec produced for the past two years.

Bureau’s overarching goal this year is to cement its partnerships with groups such as the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America and the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts.

Image Awards nominees will be announced Wednesday at the Universal Hilton as part of the TV Critics Assn. press tour. Kudofest will be held March 19 and air on Fox March 25.

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