Colorado UP: Colorado’s Response to the #MeToo and #TimesUp Movements

By: Windy Borman

Film Producer/Director, DVA Productions

Colorado creative professionals are done tolerating systemic forms of oppression. We’re calling for an end to harassment, discrimination, and assault in Colorado’s film, media and performing arts.  Known as Colorado UP, we’ve created a social movement that stands in solidarity with #MeToo and #TimesUp by creating a conscious community across Colorado that values equality, respect, and dignity for all. We invite you to join us.

Q: How Do #MeToo and #TimesUp Affect Coloradans?

A: I am a Colorado film producer/director. I am the Founder of DVA Productions, a socially conscious production company, and was the Founding Board Chair of Women and Film and Media Colorado (WIFMCO) from 2016-2017. I collaborated with other Colorado media makers to create Colorado UP because I wanted Coloradans to have a stake in conversations that affect the future of our industry. There have been socially conscious filmmakers, who have spoken out against the abuse and cover-ups in the film industry, for decades. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements brought these conversations front and center, but we can’t focus on progress in Hollywood and ignore the negative behavior at home.  Colorado was first the state in The Union to grant women the right to vote and it strives to be a leader in innovation and creativity. However, it has also been complacent with a culture that silences or discredits those who speak the truth about hostile and abusive behaviors, which affect everyone from the Capitol building to film sets.

I recently exchanged emails with WIFMCO’s Founding President Kathryn Gould to talk about our responsibility as women in film and media:

“WIFMCO was founded to advance women’s roles in the entertainment industry, and ending harassment and discrimination through the Colorado UP initiative will be fundamental in achieving that goal. In our industry of contract work, temporary jobs and word-of-mouth hiring, protecting each other must become a top priority. When the voices of entire groups of people are silenced because of systemic abuses, not only does our industry suffer, but our entire society suffers from the loss of those voices in the creation of the most powerful and wide-reaching art forms of our day.”

This is an excellent and often overlooked point. We’ve heard members of the media bemoan that there is a “witch hunt” in Hollywood and exclaim, “What about all the poor men whose careers are ended because of these allegations?” But they are asking the wrong question. What we need to ask is: What about all the women—and men and non-binary people—who have been silenced and driven out of the entertainment industry because they dared to demand equitable treatment?

Kathryn illustrated how this hits home for Coloradoans:

“Here in Colorado women have experienced varying levels of harassment from unprofessional and inappropriate behavior to the predatory activity directed towards young women so alarming that a special meeting was held in 2017 at the Bug Theatre to address concerns. This is not just a Hollywood problem; it is industry, and indeed, society-wide.”

 

Q: Why take a stand?

 A: Hollywood and New York can feel worlds away. Oprah, Ashley Judd, Tarkana Burke, Rose McGowan, Terry Crews, Salma Hayek, and many others have done a great job of raising the profile of these conversations. But I can’t help wondering how much has actually changed when Ryan Seacrest worked the red carpet and The Academy still gave Oscars to Kobe Bryant and Gary Oldman, when both have a history of violence against women. We cannot accept complacency. We must think globally and act locally. Over a dozen schools and universities offer film, media or performing arts degrees throughout Colorado. We have a responsibility to train the next generation of students so that harassment, discrimination, and abuse do not “come with the profession” and they are empowered to speak up when they see something inappropriate.

Additionally, high profile directors and producers film in Colorado, and—fortunately, or unfortunately—they set precedents for how film and media are created in our state.  We need to hold wrongdoers inside and outside of our community accountable for their actions and demand dignity and respect for everyone in our profession.

The Colorado Office of Film, Television, and Media also sees an opportunity for Colorado filmmakers to lead this discussion. They recently issued a statement, which read:

“Colorado is a thriving film and television eco-system, with a talented workforce that has grown over the past several years.  As the industry continues to flourish, an opportunity presents itself for Colorado to lead the conversation about inclusivity and equality on set, and in the workplace.”

We must eliminate abusive patterns. Let’s lead instead of observe.

 

Q: What is Colorado UP?

A: Colorado UP is a movement for social change that starts by uniting film and media makers across the state. “UP” is an acronym for “Uniting for Progress”, and that is exactly our goal.

We created an online pledge for individuals and organizations to sign. After taking the pledge, signers can add the Colorado UP logo to their social media profiles, websites, and media projects in solidarity with the movement. The pledge is available online at bit.ly/ColoradoUP

Kathryn wrote, “Women in Film and Media Colorado (WIFMCO) is proud to partner with Colorado UP in the fight for fair and equitable work environments for everyone in our industry.” Resources about reporting and preventing sexual harassment will be available online through a partnership with WIFMCO.

Find that Page Here: https://www.wifmco.org/get-involved/coloradoup/

Creating a pledge, logo and resources list is only the beginning of this movement. Initially, we hope someone will see the Colorado UP logo on set or at work and recognize that this person is an ally, or this is a safe place. However, if we really want to achieve equality, respect, and dignity for all, it’s going to take a conscious effort across our communities. Coloradans are uniting for this type of progress.

The full Colorado UP statement appears below. Take the Pledge to create an inclusive film and media industry in Colorado.

 

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Colorado UP Statement:

Colorado is a visionary ecosystem connecting diverse individuals across myriad industries. As a state, we strive to be a leader in innovation and creativity. One of the core tenets of leadership is inclusivity, and in holding true to this value, it is time to call out all forms of systemic oppression.

For far too long, we have been complacent with a culture that silences or discredits those who speak the truth about hostile and abusive behaviors — No longer. Toleration of harassment, discrimination, and assault must end. The survivors and victims must be heard, believed, and supported. Wrongdoers must be held accountable.

We, the undersigned citizens of Colorado, stand in solidarity against these injustices and vow to prevent, report, and one day eliminate abusive power inequities. We can only achieve equality, respect, and dignity for all through a conscious effort across our communities.

We are Colorado, uniting for progress.

 

 

Web Links:

Colorado UP pledge: bit.ly/ColoradoUP  

Colorado UP logos: bit.ly/ColoradoUP-logos

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CO.UnitingForProgress/

Twitter: @Colorado_UP

Instagram:  @Colorado_UP

About Colorado UP:

Colorado UP is a movement for social change that starts by uniting film and media makers across the state. It was founded by Windy Borman, Mike Denman, Gabe Ratliff, Mariel Rodriguez-McGill, Marshall Rosales and Sheila Schroeder. The logo was designed by Chelsea Burnes. Additional support was provided by Drew Hackman.

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