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Cate Blanchett and Coco Francini, who are business partners behind Dirty Films, are collaborating with Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to launch the Proof of Concept Accelerator Program. With support from Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity, the program aims to identify filmmakers who promote the perspectives of women, trans and nonbinary people.

Per the latest annual report from Dr. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, only 6% of the directors of the 1,600 top-grossing movies were women; moreover, less than one-third of all speaking characters in those same films were girls, women, trans or nonbinary people.

With these statistics in mind, Proof of Concept identifies and combats three major barriers facing directors from these underrepresented backgrounds: funding, mentorship and exposure. As many as eight filmmakers will be chosen for the program’s inaugural cohort and receive $50,000 in funding to create a proof-of-concept short film for a potential feature film or television series. They will also receive one-on-one mentorship and guidance offered by leaders in the industry.

Blanchett said, “Providing tangible financial and career support for filmmakers who often get overlooked will not only give them a fantastic launchpad to success, it will also expand the future of film and television.”

She continued, “Dirty Films is thrilled to be a leading partner for Proof of Concept, a groundbreaking program inspired by the profound work of Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative in leveling the playing field. Giving genuine cause for hope is the commitment of the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity for their help in establishing this pipeline to discover and nourish the creativity and success of new voices with compelling stories.”

Francini also made a statement about the initiative. “Proof of Concept was designed to solve a very simple problem: audiences want to see large-scale work from filmmakers with daring and diverse perspectives, but there is not yet enough support to nurture these voices at earlier stages of their career. Despite the success of films like ‘Barbie,’ ‘The Farewell,’ or ‘Past Lives,’ it is as challenging as ever to launch audaciously authored work from new creators, particularly those who tell stories from the perspective of marginalized gender identities. Proof of Concept is an actionable step to create meaningful and sustainable opportunities for these filmmakers.”

Visit for additional details on the Proof of Concept Accelerator, including program eligibility and application information.

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