Production company Level Forward has set what it calls a gun-neutral initiative to offset the portrayal of guns on screens with a commitment to destroy 10 firearms for every one that is featured in any of its productions.
The initiative kicks off with Killer Films’ “American Woman,” which marks the feature directorial debut of “Mad Men” alum Semi Chellas. For the 69 guns featured on screen in that pic, 690 will be destroyed, Level Forward founders Adrienne Becker and Abigail Disney announced Thursday. The initiative also calls for Level Forward to invest in arts programs for youths in communities affected by gun violence.
The goal is to help counteract what is often seen as the glamorization of guns in popular entertainment. Level Forward will make the gun neutral initiative a line item in every production. The company pledges to invest $15 per prop gun used in the production.
Level Forward has teamed with the One Less Gun org spearheaded by artist Carl McCrow to identify stockpiles of firearms that can be taken out of circulation. “American Woman” revolves around the women in the group of self-styled revolutionaries who kidnapped publishing heiress Patty Hearst in the mid-1970s.
“Stories have enormous power — sometimes they even have the power to change the world,” Chellas said. “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.”
Level Forward was created earlier this year by Becker and Disney, after the pair withdrew from their pursuit of Weinstein Co. assets that were put on the block after the company went into a tailspin amid sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Level Forward has vowed to make social action a key component of its content operations across TV, film, digital and stage. The gun neutral line item is also being applied to Level Forward’s short film “Human Terrain” and to the 2015 documentary “Armor of Light,” directed by Abigail Disney.
“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 Becker, who is CEO of Level Forward while Disney serves as chair. “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.”