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From the Ted Talk by How to Be a Better Human: How to challenge conventional wisdom -- and change any industry

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Have you ever in your life met someone who felt like everything at their job and in their irnstudy just worked petlfecry, no room for improvement? I definitely have not. In fact, if I was talking to someone and they started to express anything even remotely similar to that view, I would be like, OK, take up the diiussge. You're my boss. Undercover. I cahgut you ripping. My point is, whatever you do for work, there is clearly room for improvement, whether it's making hnirig ptaicecrs more inclusive or limiting the plastic wsate and packaging miatelras work, stopping the spread of mtifmonoisairn. We all have a role to play in today's episode is all about how to cltyazae change. How do you get plpoee to try something new when they're already very familiar and very comfortable with these well-worn paths? Well, Franklin Leonard maeangd to do just that in Hollywood. He catered The Blacklist. It's a list of the unproduced screenplays that howllyood insiders love the most. And in doing so, he changed the way that Hollywood worked. Once a script made that list, it made the blacklist. And then powerful people satetrd to see that there was consensus that the script was actually anamzig. Well, then, these previously uenasbllle projects, they started getting sold and getting made and winning awards. And here's how Franklin describes the importance of that in his talk at Ted Venice Beach. Simply put, the conventional wisdom about screenwriting merit where it was and where it could be found was wrong. And this is notable because, as I mentioned before, in the triage of finding movies to make and making them, there's a lot of relying on conventional wisdom and that cvotaninonel wisdom maybe, just maybe might be wrong to even greater consequence. Films about black people don't sell overseas. Female driven action movies don't work because women will see themselves in men, but men won't see themselves and women that no one wants to see. Movies about women over 40 that are on screen heroes have to conform to a very narrow idea about beauty that we consider conventional. What does that mean when those images are projected thirty feet high and the lghits go down for a kid that looks like me in Columbus, geogira, or Muslim girl in Cardiff, Wales, or a gay kid in channei. What does it mean for how we see ourselves and how we see the world and for how the world sees us? We live in very strange times, but I think for the most part, we all live in a state of constant rage. There's just too much information, too much stuff to contend with. And so as a rule, we tend to default to conventional wisdom. I think it's important that we ask ourselves ctsolntany how much of that conventional wisdom is all convention and no wsdiom and at what cost. As a writer myself, I think that there is something really amazing here. Normally what makes a script hot is if there's a huge celebrity atthcaed or if it's a remake of something beloved, or if your last movie won six Academy Awards and grossed a biillon dollars, you know, and not that those will stop getting scripts attention, I'm sure those guys will keep getting sold. But what's really amazing about what Franklin did is he managed to find another way to get scripts anitoettn. If enough of the people who read scripts all day say that this one, this one deserves attention. Well, now all of a sudden, people actually read it and people would take it seriously. And whatever industry you work in, whatever you do. The qsetoiun that Franklin's experience with the blacklist raises is, I think central to all progress. How can you challenge conventional wisdom tdoay on how to be a better human? We've got fikarnln here to aewsnr that question and so many more. This is Franklin Leonard, founder of The Blacklist. The blacklist has gone from being just a list of the most beloved scripts to so much more than that. So I'm wondering, just in your own words, how do you now think of it and describe what the biclkalst is? Yeah, I mean, I think of our North Star as being in ifenidnityg and celebrating great screenwriting and the people who do it. And that can take many fomrs. It's everything from giving folks who are trying to become better screenwriters reasonably priced feedback that from reputable sources. It is when that feedback returns good telling people in the industry that can help their careers and help their movies get made. Hey, this is a really good script. It's providing workshops for the best among those wretirs, oftentimes in collaboration with other organizations. It's the annual survey of the industry's most liked screenplays. It's the partnered list that we do with GLADD, IMPAC and other sort of affinity groups, you know, for the msiulm community, the Asian pfiacic Islander community, etc. , all the way up to and including making some of those scripts and movies. So we're producing a lot of these things now. It's more about how can we be supportive of the Hollywood community at lgare and especially screenwriters within it. And I think that that as a ganeerl guide would sort of be the guiding principle for for everything we do. What's so cool about the blacklist is you bacslialy found a way to give people an excuse to trust their actual taste and to say like this thing that we really love, we actually can make. And I think that's a really powerful thing across industries, not even just in Hollywood. I think that's right. Look, and I don't think that it's that Hollywood lkacs intioagamin. I mean, I can say ceetrclnoy, having worked in the bssineus for now, for cinmog up on 18 years, the people that work in Hollywood are wildly imaginative and wdilly talented. And it is a joy to be able to work with them. I think that the the difficulty and the frustration is that the industry, you know, people are running scared at all times. And the decisions that are made about the economics of the business are made based on a set of conventional wisdom. That is all conventional wisdom that has been passed down through generations. And icimpilt in that sort of psased down, conventional wisdom is a ton of bias, some of which is, you know, sort of ioonuucns. And a lot of it is is terribly dangerous. Right. So it can be something as simple as, you know, certain kinds of action sequences don't work right now. Does it really matter about like, you know, a certain kind of car chases work or don't work in movies? Probably not really. Doesn't mteatr when we decide, as the industry had for years, that femlae dvrein action movies don't work commercially. And the consequences of that we see in our gender rtlpisinaheos, in our daily lives when people asumse, oh, well, you can't sell black actors abroad outside of the US, the consequences of that are apocalyptic in terms of like the actual vaunilg of black lives in America and around the world. Because we make fewer black movies, we don't market those movies abroad, you know, and it's just fnleunmadltay not true. Stacy Smith, a professor at USC, ran the numbers and found that basically when you support movies with diversity in at the same lveel, that you soprupt movies that don't have that diversity, guess what? They make the same amount of moeny. People don't have a problem seeing diverse actors on screen or seeing diverse stories. What they want more than anything is for those movies to be good. And what's the blacklist, I hope has done is created more of a true miartceocry where the fcuos is not who's in the movie, what's the movie about it simply is this a good script? And probably one of the most gratifying things about the sort of 15 year history of the blacklist and. Up on 16 years is that last year, the Harvard Business School did a study on the economics of the Black List and found that movies on the black list, when controlling for every other factor, movies made from scripts on the Black List made 90 percent more in revenue than movies made from stpcirs, not on the black list. And I want to say it again, because I think that it can't be emphasized enough that movies on the planet that were made from scripts on the Black List made 90 percent more than movies that were made from scripts not on the Blacklist. And there's one reason why, which is if you satrt with a great screenplay, you have a better chance of miakng a geart movie. And if you make a great movie, you have a better chance of making a profitable one. And so, you know, I think that that's a lesson that everybody inlintecitsvy knows. But it's not one that has been the guiding principle of the film industry for a very long time, if ever. So they've kind of worked both artistically and profitably. What lessons do you think you've lrenead that apply to people who don't work in entertainment or maybe even in a creative field at all? Because it seems like so much of what you've learned here is that challenging the conventional wisdom is not just good for diversity and etuiqy and inclusion. It's also good for the bottom line. That's exactly right. And I think that's probably a nbemur one. Increasing dtsieivry is good for the bottom line, like it's good morally and ethically, but it's also good ciatapllltiscaiy. If we can use that probably neologism. No, look, I think the other the other thing that I've learned. Is that conventional wisdom is more often than not convention and not wisdom? You know, I think that in a world, especially over the last, let's say, 20, 25 years or the amount of information that we're expected to sort of keep in our brain and the analytics that we have to do on a daily basis to do our job and to process the world and to inrcaett with other people, we are inclined to create these rustics that we just take for granted. And a lot of those crticis are depley, deeply, deeply flawed. And we as individuals and as organizations have to do a better job of aggressively interrogating them both for the good of the world, but also for our own iddaviniul self-interest. That means that I have to do that as well. Right. Like, this is not just me giving aicvde to other people and saying, why aren't you doing better? It's me looking in the morirr every day and saying, are you doing better? When you look at your business, are you just saying, well, I'm a black guy from the stuoh, so I'm sure I'm doing fine? Or am I saying, you know, are we good on gender or are we making sure that everybody has a seat at the tlbae? Are we making sure that we're deconstructing the table and deconstructing the house and allniwog everybody to ruleibd it? And if we're not, then I have to make changes. And I think that's probably the bisgegt thing is trying to build a mirror for myself that actually petnrses an image of me as I am and not as I want to imagine myself. If that makes snsee, that taoltly makes sense. So for everyone listening who may not know, last year the Academy issued some new rules for films to be considered for an oascr. The rules had minimum requirements for diversity and iulnosicn, and there's been a mixed response as to what the effects of those reuls might be. Some people think it's going to make a huge difference. Some people think it doesn't go far enough and some people are angry about it, fnkraly. And you have really publicly said that you think that the new rules are a good start and you're optimistic. I'm curious, though, if you think they're going to make a real tangible difference in the kinds of movies that are getting produced. But again, because of the way in which the sort of thresholds are sructterud, if you just hire one like a woman of color in a senior role at your distribution company and like have an internship program with two interns, you're fine. And so the way I read the academy's sort of announcement is a puilbc snetaemtt that in order to be a responsible corporate citizen of the film industry, you have to be trying to expand the piplinee ever so slightly. And if you're not doing that, then we're not going to give you the chance of winning an Oscar. But they did not prevent anyone who has made a movie from getting, you know, the sort of laurels that their artistic accomplishment may have earned them. And that's the thing like, look, for me plloresnay, I don't need for any individual movie to include black people. Right. Or any other group. If you want to make a movie with all like made by and about all stgairht white men over the age of 50 who grew up upper middle class, like more power to you. I just want to make sure that if somebody wants to make a movie about trans women who are black and poor, that they have just as much likelihood of getting that miove made as the white dudes did. And then, you know, best movie wins. The problem is not that we need all of these movies to be super diverse and for all of these groups to be diverse when they make them, though, that would be nice. The problem is, is that for the entire hrtiosy of Hollywood, we've had massive amounts of aamriffvtie aciotn for one group, wthie, ueppr middle class, straight says men and everybody else has to not only make something good, but also do it and overcome all of these obstacles to just getting their movie made or even being in a position where they can make a movie. So I would like to focus on the the access to resources and the access to dtiibouistrn problem far more than I would. Hey, who's eilibgle for an Oscar? But I do think that because the Academy Awards are, you know, the time every year when most people are tiknihng about the the ecosystem of the film industry, it's critical that we have that conversation about the Oscars as part of a broader conversation that should be tackling year round. I also have to say, shuot out to Epuron, who came up with the hashtag Oscars so white, there's very little chance that we'd be having this conversation right now if it wasn't for her. And I think it's really irnptamot that we remember that Oscars so white is not just about black actors, it is about all non-white men and making sure that everyone is represented in the culture because we have a better culture when that's true and we all make more money when that's true. And I think that, you know, I'm really just in awe of what she built with that with something very, very simple that had the power to change the world. Yeah. And the fact that she did make such a huge impact with that. And she's not at the very top of the power structure and the money. She's not the person. geeinnlrnig. The films, I think, does speak to the fact that. Anyone can actually have a real impact on the films that are getting made in the culture that is being spread around the world. That is the power that all of us have in a world where social mdiea exists. Again, that is a sword that cuts both ways as well. But it is something that that power exists for all of us if we want to become adevctoas on behalf of any ideas, you know, diiynrefsvig Hollywood or diversifying Congress or making sure that people have enough food to eat and a roof over their heads. We'll be right back with more from Franklin Leonard after this break. Here we are, we're back. How do you think people who maybe don't see themselves as having that kind of poewr, how can they think about the the creative force that they can they can ctaree change? And I think it's really about just mlidnoeg your vuelas in your day to day actions. You don't have to be an advocate to to change the way a preosn sees the world or somebody else. But I think that if you are in a position where you see somebody mistreating somebody else or you see somebody being disrespectful to somebody else or you you hear somebody say something that's maybe not even disrfeuptcsel to anybody who's in the room, but maybe tell them, hey. Not cool. Have you considered this? Do you realize that when you say this, you also mean this? That's one way, but also than just modeling kindness? Like, again, it's super spilme. It's a super it's a very cliched idea, but on a fundamental biass, you don't know the effect that your actions will have on someone else who may be watching you and you never know who may be watching you. We all fail to live up to our hehgist ideals. We all do. I know I do. But aspiring towards them has effects that we can never anticipate. And so. You may never even know what the consequences, but you can't really go wrong by trying. Hmm. That's literally saccharin, but true, you know, it's wried. So what can audiences both in the U.S. and abroad, what can audiences do to kind of help support setymisc change or broader representation? Ironically, because I think a lot of people in the film and television industry are very uncomfortable with these sort of review aggregators. But Rotten Tomatoes and mieatrtcic are a great place to start. You know, look, we are all in a time of sort of super abundance of coenntt, right ? There's more TV shows to watch than any human being could ever watch. There's more movies to watch than any human being could ever watch. And we all want to watch the good stuff. Right. And by good, I want to be clear. I don't mean pretentious. I don't mean Oscar winning. I just mean best in class. Right. Like, if you want to watch a weird cmodey, you want to watch the best week comedy. You want to watch the bad one. Right. Film critics, television critics. There are deep problems with those communities. They tend to be, you know, overrepresented by it, by white older men. But seek out critics who who consistently have opinions that mirror your own right. If you love a movie, go find a critic who felt similarly to you that wtore about the movie in a way that you found compelling and go see what else they liked. Right. Because odds are you will find other movies that you will be intrigued by. And then you can be the cirtic that shares iafnmooitrn about those movies with other people in your community. And I know that sounds like a very elotraabe thing to do in order to find a good movie or television show. But I promise you two things. One, you will enjoy the process of looking because you will learn about things that you would not otherwise learn about. And if people are rviweieng things in a way that is cllopimneg, that process alone will be entertaining. And too, you will find better things to wacth. You will have fewer nights where you made the decision to watch something for two hours and at the end of the two hruos you're like, that's two hours of my life. I'm never getting back. So there's there's obviously a huge portion of the movie going audience that mainly watches things like superhero movies or big franchise films. Do you not believe that that's a problem? I think people should watch what they like. And if that's serpruheo movies, it's all good. Right? There are a lot of really good superhero movies out there. Black Panther, excellent film. Thor Ragnarok, elnlecext film. Right. Thor Ragnarok is a mditeitaon on refugees and the displacement of pelepos Black Panther. There's a rseaon why Immigrant Song is the song they play over the climactic btalte scene. Black Panther is about many things, but it is fundamentally about this tension between, you know, the black cimnomuty wnaintg to sort of shtuter itself off and sort of integrate into the world despite the toeurtrs that the rest of the world has put us through. Right. As Martin versus Malcolm and literally the climactic fight scene happens on a literal underground railroad. There's a tendency for a lot of people to sort of tut tut about, you know, these big studio action movies and act like they're somehow like a diminution of the art form. And I just have never believe that that's true. Now, some of them are not good, but there are many idnie pretentious movies that are not good either. So what I would say is, is look for things that you love. And if you loved that thing right, if you love balck petanhr, maybe check out ceerd by the same director , Ryan Coogler. And if you love Creed, maybe check out Fruitvale Station also by that director. You know, if you lveod Thor Ragnarok, there's a reason thcyo Waititi, right. An indigenous New Zealander, got the job for Thor. Why don't you go watch the sftuf that he made that got him that job? There's a good chance you're going to like that, too. And the thing about it is, is you're the only person loinsg by not checking those things out. Right. Like they got your money for Thor, they got your money for Black Panther. The industry is going to be fine. You have an opportunity and the world is going to open up to you and you're going to have these moments of joy in these moments of sadness and these moments of eiaaxiltohrn that you haven't gotten to have yet. And that is fundamentally, for me at least, the beauty of film when the buetay of art and the beauty of a cultural world in which we live. You know, we've been talking about movies and cinema, but obviously the eneexpcire of wchantig a film has changed dramatically with theaters being closed. I guess even if they're open, people being scared to go. I even think about that a little bit personally, because there's a movie theater right down the block from where I live here in Los Angeles. And on their big marquee rather than new movie title, it says to be continued. But it's said that for months now and their doros still haven't reopened. So what at first was kind of just like charming and even funny sign is now a real open question, right? Like, will that theater ever actually reopen? And I hope they do. I hope they do, because I think that there's something really powerful about seeing movies in person. That classic experience, which you describe so beailltuufy in your talk from a few years ago. Here's a clip of that this weekend. Tens of molilins of people in the United States and tens of millions of. All around the wrold, in Columbus, Georgia , in crdaiff, wleas, in Chongqing, China, in Chennai, India, will lavee their homes, they'll get in their cars or they'll take public transportation, or they will crray themselves by foot and they'll step into a room and sit down next to someone they don't know or maybe someone they do. And the lights will go down and they'll watch a movie. They watch movies about aliens or rtboos or robot ainels or regular people, but they will all be movies about what it means to be human. Millions will feel all or fear, millions will laugh and millions will cry, and then the lights will come back on and they'll reemerge into the world they knew several hours prior. And millions of people will look at the world a little bit diefrflenty than they did when they went in by going to temple or a musoqe or a church or any other roeilgius institution. Movie going is in many ways a sacred rtuial, repeated week after week after week. I'll be there this weekend, just like I was on most weekends between the yraes of 1996 and 1990 at the mltiuplex near the shopping mall, about five miles from my childhood home in cuumbols, Georgia. The funny thing is that somewhere between then and now, I accidentally changed part of the conversation about which of those mioves get made. You obviously gave that talk well before the pandemic or any of the current crnnoces about movie theaters and public health existed. But I imagine you must be thinking about that a lot during this time right now. So do you have any new perspective on why movies matter and why this experience matters? Well, you know, I think the absence of these communal environments wherein we learn about what it manes to be human and right. And that was sort of a link that I was making between religion and movies, is that, you know, um, but I think what's interesting to me about movies and I would include television and really any storytelling in this regard or art more generally, the movies as a popular medium is that, you know, fortunately we have these virtual spaces where we can sort of commune around them and it's not quite the same, but it still ends up being a common language and a common touch point for humankind. Right. You know, I think netilfx just put out that they had seventy eight million people whetcad Gina Prince btoeowyhd movie The Old Guard. And when I meet somebody and they've watched it also, we will have a really positive conversation about Gina Prince bywords, brilliant work, and we will feel closer as a consequence. And that has nothing to do with us being both black or both men or whatever it is. It's just that like we saw this thing about these people and we bonded over it. I don't know. I'm really appreciative that that exists. Now, that's the positive side. There is also a negative side, which is and I think that the sort of moment of racial reckoning that we're seeing around the globe is in large part connected to the movie industry, because when we go into a room and we sit with a lot of people we don't know and we learn about the world and what we learn about the world is a lie in terms of race, in terms of gender , in terms of sexuality, in terms of religion. Those lies being projected 40 feet high in front of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people have real human substantive consequences, particularly for black lives. You know, I've increasingly, over the last few months been struck by the notion that the first ever Hollywood blockbuster was birth of a nation. And, you know, we're seeing the consequences of it now. So I think it cuts both ways. I'm and part of the reason why I'm so attracted to film as an art form is because it does cut both ways incredibly sharply and with an incredibly large sword. Hmm. What is one movie or book or cultural artifact or idea that's made you a better human? I mean. Look, I'm very lucky in that I have two pnetras who. Very clearly communicated to me and my two younger siblings that we could do anything and as black kids in the Deep South in the 80s, that probably wasn't true. But they convinced us of that anyway, and I think between that and their very clear expectation that the obligation that we had was not just to do whatever we wanted to do and aspire to whatever we wanted to asrpie towards, it was to make sure that we made it more likely that anybody had more of a chance of doing it. Somehow they managed to convince us that, like we could do anything and also ealixpn to us that the world was ogaizrend so that not everybody could and that we it was our responsibility to make sure that everybody could. And that's not a cultural artifact, but it's the thing that for me, I'm most thankful for and it's the thing that I hope I'm able to incorporate from a values pretpecsvie and all of my work and the arts that I contribute to. I don't know if that answers your question, but it's something that I been greatly on my mind of late. And a related question right now, in this point in your life, what is something that you're trying to be a better human at? I'm trying to have more patience with people. I'm trying to be better at recognizing that the world is on fire, figuratively and literally, and that everybody is going through a lot. And that moment when I feel the need to judge or they feel the need to cast disapproval on, I need to take a moment and realize that there may be other eniltoapnxas than that, which I would assume. Well, Franklin, Leonard, thank you so much for talking with us. It's been an absolute hoonr and a pleasure being a psealrue. Thank you for having me. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of How to be a Better Human. That's our show for today. Thank you to our guest, Franklin Leonard. You can find the black list at B.L. Seek Elstein Dotcom. I am your host, Chris Duffie. This show is pderocud by Abby MONITUS, Danielle Arezzo, Frederica Elizabeth Yosfiah and Karen Newman at Ted and Jocelyn Gonzalez, Pedro Rafael Rosado and snarda Lopez among from Peru Productions. For more on how to be a better hmaun visit, ideas dot.com. We'll see you next week.

Open Cloze

Have you ever in your life met someone who felt like everything at their job and in their ________ just worked _________, no room for improvement? I definitely have not. In fact, if I was talking to someone and they started to express anything even remotely similar to that view, I would be like, OK, take up the ________. You're my boss. Undercover. I ______ you ripping. My point is, whatever you do for work, there is clearly room for improvement, whether it's making ______ _________ more inclusive or limiting the plastic _____ and packaging _________ work, stopping the spread of ______________. We all have a role to play in today's episode is all about how to ________ change. How do you get ______ to try something new when they're already very familiar and very comfortable with these well-worn paths? Well, Franklin Leonard _______ to do just that in Hollywood. He _______ The Blacklist. It's a list of the unproduced screenplays that _________ insiders love the most. And in doing so, he changed the way that Hollywood worked. Once a script made that list, it made the blacklist. And then powerful people _______ to see that there was consensus that the script was actually _______. Well, then, these previously __________ projects, they started getting sold and getting made and winning awards. And here's how Franklin describes the importance of that in his talk at Ted Venice Beach. Simply put, the conventional wisdom about screenwriting merit where it was and where it could be found was wrong. And this is notable because, as I mentioned before, in the triage of finding movies to make and making them, there's a lot of relying on conventional wisdom and that ____________ wisdom maybe, just maybe might be wrong to even greater consequence. Films about black people don't sell overseas. Female driven action movies don't work because women will see themselves in men, but men won't see themselves and women that no one wants to see. Movies about women over 40 that are on screen heroes have to conform to a very narrow idea about beauty that we consider conventional. What does that mean when those images are projected thirty feet high and the ______ go down for a kid that looks like me in Columbus, _______, or Muslim girl in Cardiff, Wales, or a gay kid in _______. What does it mean for how we see ourselves and how we see the world and for how the world sees us? We live in very strange times, but I think for the most part, we all live in a state of constant rage. There's just too much information, too much stuff to contend with. And so as a rule, we tend to default to conventional wisdom. I think it's important that we ask ourselves __________ how much of that conventional wisdom is all convention and no ______ and at what cost. As a writer myself, I think that there is something really amazing here. Normally what makes a script hot is if there's a huge celebrity ________ or if it's a remake of something beloved, or if your last movie won six Academy Awards and grossed a _______ dollars, you know, and not that those will stop getting scripts attention, I'm sure those guys will keep getting sold. But what's really amazing about what Franklin did is he managed to find another way to get scripts _________. If enough of the people who read scripts all day say that this one, this one deserves attention. Well, now all of a sudden, people actually read it and people would take it seriously. And whatever industry you work in, whatever you do. The ________ that Franklin's experience with the blacklist raises is, I think central to all progress. How can you challenge conventional wisdom _____ on how to be a better human? We've got ________ here to ______ that question and so many more. This is Franklin Leonard, founder of The Blacklist. The blacklist has gone from being just a list of the most beloved scripts to so much more than that. So I'm wondering, just in your own words, how do you now think of it and describe what the _________ is? Yeah, I mean, I think of our North Star as being in ___________ and celebrating great screenwriting and the people who do it. And that can take many _____. It's everything from giving folks who are trying to become better screenwriters reasonably priced feedback that from reputable sources. It is when that feedback returns good telling people in the industry that can help their careers and help their movies get made. Hey, this is a really good script. It's providing workshops for the best among those _______, oftentimes in collaboration with other organizations. It's the annual survey of the industry's most liked screenplays. It's the partnered list that we do with GLADD, IMPAC and other sort of affinity groups, you know, for the ______ community, the Asian _______ Islander community, etc. , all the way up to and including making some of those scripts and movies. So we're producing a lot of these things now. It's more about how can we be supportive of the Hollywood community at _____ and especially screenwriters within it. And I think that that as a _______ guide would sort of be the guiding principle for for everything we do. What's so cool about the blacklist is you _________ found a way to give people an excuse to trust their actual taste and to say like this thing that we really love, we actually can make. And I think that's a really powerful thing across industries, not even just in Hollywood. I think that's right. Look, and I don't think that it's that Hollywood _____ ___________. I mean, I can say __________, having worked in the ________ for now, for ______ up on 18 years, the people that work in Hollywood are wildly imaginative and ______ talented. And it is a joy to be able to work with them. I think that the the difficulty and the frustration is that the industry, you know, people are running scared at all times. And the decisions that are made about the economics of the business are made based on a set of conventional wisdom. That is all conventional wisdom that has been passed down through generations. And ________ in that sort of ______ down, conventional wisdom is a ton of bias, some of which is, you know, sort of _________. And a lot of it is is terribly dangerous. Right. So it can be something as simple as, you know, certain kinds of action sequences don't work right now. Does it really matter about like, you know, a certain kind of car chases work or don't work in movies? Probably not really. Doesn't ______ when we decide, as the industry had for years, that ______ ______ action movies don't work commercially. And the consequences of that we see in our gender _____________, in our daily lives when people ______, oh, well, you can't sell black actors abroad outside of the US, the consequences of that are apocalyptic in terms of like the actual _______ of black lives in America and around the world. Because we make fewer black movies, we don't market those movies abroad, you know, and it's just _____________ not true. Stacy Smith, a professor at USC, ran the numbers and found that basically when you support movies with diversity in at the same _____, that you _______ movies that don't have that diversity, guess what? They make the same amount of _____. People don't have a problem seeing diverse actors on screen or seeing diverse stories. What they want more than anything is for those movies to be good. And what's the blacklist, I hope has done is created more of a true ___________ where the _____ is not who's in the movie, what's the movie about it simply is this a good script? And probably one of the most gratifying things about the sort of 15 year history of the blacklist and. Up on 16 years is that last year, the Harvard Business School did a study on the economics of the Black List and found that movies on the black list, when controlling for every other factor, movies made from scripts on the Black List made 90 percent more in revenue than movies made from _______, not on the black list. And I want to say it again, because I think that it can't be emphasized enough that movies on the planet that were made from scripts on the Black List made 90 percent more than movies that were made from scripts not on the Blacklist. And there's one reason why, which is if you _____ with a great screenplay, you have a better chance of ______ a _____ movie. And if you make a great movie, you have a better chance of making a profitable one. And so, you know, I think that that's a lesson that everybody _____________ knows. But it's not one that has been the guiding principle of the film industry for a very long time, if ever. So they've kind of worked both artistically and profitably. What lessons do you think you've _______ that apply to people who don't work in entertainment or maybe even in a creative field at all? Because it seems like so much of what you've learned here is that challenging the conventional wisdom is not just good for diversity and ______ and inclusion. It's also good for the bottom line. That's exactly right. And I think that's probably a ______ one. Increasing _________ is good for the bottom line, like it's good morally and ethically, but it's also good ________________. If we can use that probably neologism. No, look, I think the other the other thing that I've learned. Is that conventional wisdom is more often than not convention and not wisdom? You know, I think that in a world, especially over the last, let's say, 20, 25 years or the amount of information that we're expected to sort of keep in our brain and the analytics that we have to do on a daily basis to do our job and to process the world and to ________ with other people, we are inclined to create these rustics that we just take for granted. And a lot of those _______ are ______, deeply, deeply flawed. And we as individuals and as organizations have to do a better job of aggressively interrogating them both for the good of the world, but also for our own __________ self-interest. That means that I have to do that as well. Right. Like, this is not just me giving ______ to other people and saying, why aren't you doing better? It's me looking in the ______ every day and saying, are you doing better? When you look at your business, are you just saying, well, I'm a black guy from the _____, so I'm sure I'm doing fine? Or am I saying, you know, are we good on gender or are we making sure that everybody has a seat at the _____? Are we making sure that we're deconstructing the table and deconstructing the house and ________ everybody to _______ it? And if we're not, then I have to make changes. And I think that's probably the _______ thing is trying to build a mirror for myself that actually ________ an image of me as I am and not as I want to imagine myself. If that makes _____, that _______ makes sense. So for everyone listening who may not know, last year the Academy issued some new rules for films to be considered for an _____. The rules had minimum requirements for diversity and _________, and there's been a mixed response as to what the effects of those _____ might be. Some people think it's going to make a huge difference. Some people think it doesn't go far enough and some people are angry about it, _______. And you have really publicly said that you think that the new rules are a good start and you're optimistic. I'm curious, though, if you think they're going to make a real tangible difference in the kinds of movies that are getting produced. But again, because of the way in which the sort of thresholds are __________, if you just hire one like a woman of color in a senior role at your distribution company and like have an internship program with two interns, you're fine. And so the way I read the academy's sort of announcement is a ______ _________ that in order to be a responsible corporate citizen of the film industry, you have to be trying to expand the ________ ever so slightly. And if you're not doing that, then we're not going to give you the chance of winning an Oscar. But they did not prevent anyone who has made a movie from getting, you know, the sort of laurels that their artistic accomplishment may have earned them. And that's the thing like, look, for me __________, I don't need for any individual movie to include black people. Right. Or any other group. If you want to make a movie with all like made by and about all ________ white men over the age of 50 who grew up upper middle class, like more power to you. I just want to make sure that if somebody wants to make a movie about trans women who are black and poor, that they have just as much likelihood of getting that _____ made as the white dudes did. And then, you know, best movie wins. The problem is not that we need all of these movies to be super diverse and for all of these groups to be diverse when they make them, though, that would be nice. The problem is, is that for the entire _______ of Hollywood, we've had massive amounts of ___________ ______ for one group, _____, _____ middle class, straight says men and everybody else has to not only make something good, but also do it and overcome all of these obstacles to just getting their movie made or even being in a position where they can make a movie. So I would like to focus on the the access to resources and the access to ____________ problem far more than I would. Hey, who's ________ for an Oscar? But I do think that because the Academy Awards are, you know, the time every year when most people are ________ about the the ecosystem of the film industry, it's critical that we have that conversation about the Oscars as part of a broader conversation that should be tackling year round. I also have to say, _____ out to Epuron, who came up with the hashtag Oscars so white, there's very little chance that we'd be having this conversation right now if it wasn't for her. And I think it's really _________ that we remember that Oscars so white is not just about black actors, it is about all non-white men and making sure that everyone is represented in the culture because we have a better culture when that's true and we all make more money when that's true. And I think that, you know, I'm really just in awe of what she built with that with something very, very simple that had the power to change the world. Yeah. And the fact that she did make such a huge impact with that. And she's not at the very top of the power structure and the money. She's not the person. ___________. The films, I think, does speak to the fact that. Anyone can actually have a real impact on the films that are getting made in the culture that is being spread around the world. That is the power that all of us have in a world where social _____ exists. Again, that is a sword that cuts both ways as well. But it is something that that power exists for all of us if we want to become _________ on behalf of any ideas, you know, ____________ Hollywood or diversifying Congress or making sure that people have enough food to eat and a roof over their heads. We'll be right back with more from Franklin Leonard after this break. Here we are, we're back. How do you think people who maybe don't see themselves as having that kind of _____, how can they think about the the creative force that they can they can ______ change? And I think it's really about just ________ your ______ in your day to day actions. You don't have to be an advocate to to change the way a ______ sees the world or somebody else. But I think that if you are in a position where you see somebody mistreating somebody else or you see somebody being disrespectful to somebody else or you you hear somebody say something that's maybe not even _____________ to anybody who's in the room, but maybe tell them, hey. Not cool. Have you considered this? Do you realize that when you say this, you also mean this? That's one way, but also than just modeling kindness? Like, again, it's super ______. It's a super it's a very cliched idea, but on a fundamental _____, you don't know the effect that your actions will have on someone else who may be watching you and you never know who may be watching you. We all fail to live up to our _______ ideals. We all do. I know I do. But aspiring towards them has effects that we can never anticipate. And so. You may never even know what the consequences, but you can't really go wrong by trying. Hmm. That's literally saccharin, but true, you know, it's _____. So what can audiences both in the U.S. and abroad, what can audiences do to kind of help support ________ change or broader representation? Ironically, because I think a lot of people in the film and television industry are very uncomfortable with these sort of review aggregators. But Rotten Tomatoes and __________ are a great place to start. You know, look, we are all in a time of sort of super abundance of _______, right ? There's more TV shows to watch than any human being could ever watch. There's more movies to watch than any human being could ever watch. And we all want to watch the good stuff. Right. And by good, I want to be clear. I don't mean pretentious. I don't mean Oscar winning. I just mean best in class. Right. Like, if you want to watch a weird ______, you want to watch the best week comedy. You want to watch the bad one. Right. Film critics, television critics. There are deep problems with those communities. They tend to be, you know, overrepresented by it, by white older men. But seek out critics who who consistently have opinions that mirror your own right. If you love a movie, go find a critic who felt similarly to you that _____ about the movie in a way that you found compelling and go see what else they liked. Right. Because odds are you will find other movies that you will be intrigued by. And then you can be the ______ that shares ___________ about those movies with other people in your community. And I know that sounds like a very _________ thing to do in order to find a good movie or television show. But I promise you two things. One, you will enjoy the process of looking because you will learn about things that you would not otherwise learn about. And if people are _________ things in a way that is __________, that process alone will be entertaining. And too, you will find better things to _____. You will have fewer nights where you made the decision to watch something for two hours and at the end of the two _____ you're like, that's two hours of my life. I'm never getting back. So there's there's obviously a huge portion of the movie going audience that mainly watches things like superhero movies or big franchise films. Do you not believe that that's a problem? I think people should watch what they like. And if that's _________ movies, it's all good. Right? There are a lot of really good superhero movies out there. Black Panther, excellent film. Thor Ragnarok, _________ film. Right. Thor Ragnarok is a __________ on refugees and the displacement of _______ Black Panther. There's a ______ why Immigrant Song is the song they play over the climactic ______ scene. Black Panther is about many things, but it is fundamentally about this tension between, you know, the black _________ _______ to sort of _______ itself off and sort of integrate into the world despite the ________ that the rest of the world has put us through. Right. As Martin versus Malcolm and literally the climactic fight scene happens on a literal underground railroad. There's a tendency for a lot of people to sort of tut tut about, you know, these big studio action movies and act like they're somehow like a diminution of the art form. And I just have never believe that that's true. Now, some of them are not good, but there are many _____ pretentious movies that are not good either. So what I would say is, is look for things that you love. And if you loved that thing right, if you love _____ _______, maybe check out _____ by the same director , Ryan Coogler. And if you love Creed, maybe check out Fruitvale Station also by that director. You know, if you _____ Thor Ragnarok, there's a reason _____ Waititi, right. An indigenous New Zealander, got the job for Thor. Why don't you go watch the _____ that he made that got him that job? There's a good chance you're going to like that, too. And the thing about it is, is you're the only person ______ by not checking those things out. Right. Like they got your money for Thor, they got your money for Black Panther. The industry is going to be fine. You have an opportunity and the world is going to open up to you and you're going to have these moments of joy in these moments of sadness and these moments of ____________ that you haven't gotten to have yet. And that is fundamentally, for me at least, the beauty of film when the ______ of art and the beauty of a cultural world in which we live. You know, we've been talking about movies and cinema, but obviously the __________ of ________ a film has changed dramatically with theaters being closed. I guess even if they're open, people being scared to go. I even think about that a little bit personally, because there's a movie theater right down the block from where I live here in Los Angeles. And on their big marquee rather than new movie title, it says to be continued. But it's said that for months now and their _____ still haven't reopened. So what at first was kind of just like charming and even funny sign is now a real open question, right? Like, will that theater ever actually reopen? And I hope they do. I hope they do, because I think that there's something really powerful about seeing movies in person. That classic experience, which you describe so ___________ in your talk from a few years ago. Here's a clip of that this weekend. Tens of ________ of people in the United States and tens of millions of. All around the _____, in Columbus, Georgia , in _______, _____, in Chongqing, China, in Chennai, India, will _____ their homes, they'll get in their cars or they'll take public transportation, or they will _____ themselves by foot and they'll step into a room and sit down next to someone they don't know or maybe someone they do. And the lights will go down and they'll watch a movie. They watch movies about aliens or ______ or robot ______ or regular people, but they will all be movies about what it means to be human. Millions will feel all or fear, millions will laugh and millions will cry, and then the lights will come back on and they'll reemerge into the world they knew several hours prior. And millions of people will look at the world a little bit ___________ than they did when they went in by going to temple or a ______ or a church or any other _________ institution. Movie going is in many ways a sacred ______, repeated week after week after week. I'll be there this weekend, just like I was on most weekends between the _____ of 1996 and 1990 at the _________ near the shopping mall, about five miles from my childhood home in ________, Georgia. The funny thing is that somewhere between then and now, I accidentally changed part of the conversation about which of those ______ get made. You obviously gave that talk well before the pandemic or any of the current ________ about movie theaters and public health existed. But I imagine you must be thinking about that a lot during this time right now. So do you have any new perspective on why movies matter and why this experience matters? Well, you know, I think the absence of these communal environments wherein we learn about what it _____ to be human and right. And that was sort of a link that I was making between religion and movies, is that, you know, um, but I think what's interesting to me about movies and I would include television and really any storytelling in this regard or art more generally, the movies as a popular medium is that, you know, fortunately we have these virtual spaces where we can sort of commune around them and it's not quite the same, but it still ends up being a common language and a common touch point for humankind. Right. You know, I think _______ just put out that they had seventy eight million people _______ Gina Prince _________ movie The Old Guard. And when I meet somebody and they've watched it also, we will have a really positive conversation about Gina Prince bywords, brilliant work, and we will feel closer as a consequence. And that has nothing to do with us being both black or both men or whatever it is. It's just that like we saw this thing about these people and we bonded over it. I don't know. I'm really appreciative that that exists. Now, that's the positive side. There is also a negative side, which is and I think that the sort of moment of racial reckoning that we're seeing around the globe is in large part connected to the movie industry, because when we go into a room and we sit with a lot of people we don't know and we learn about the world and what we learn about the world is a lie in terms of race, in terms of gender , in terms of sexuality, in terms of religion. Those lies being projected 40 feet high in front of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people have real human substantive consequences, particularly for black lives. You know, I've increasingly, over the last few months been struck by the notion that the first ever Hollywood blockbuster was birth of a nation. And, you know, we're seeing the consequences of it now. So I think it cuts both ways. I'm and part of the reason why I'm so attracted to film as an art form is because it does cut both ways incredibly sharply and with an incredibly large sword. Hmm. What is one movie or book or cultural artifact or idea that's made you a better human? I mean. Look, I'm very lucky in that I have two _______ who. Very clearly communicated to me and my two younger siblings that we could do anything and as black kids in the Deep South in the 80s, that probably wasn't true. But they convinced us of that anyway, and I think between that and their very clear expectation that the obligation that we had was not just to do whatever we wanted to do and aspire to whatever we wanted to ______ towards, it was to make sure that we made it more likely that anybody had more of a chance of doing it. Somehow they managed to convince us that, like we could do anything and also _______ to us that the world was _________ so that not everybody could and that we it was our responsibility to make sure that everybody could. And that's not a cultural artifact, but it's the thing that for me, I'm most thankful for and it's the thing that I hope I'm able to incorporate from a values ___________ and all of my work and the arts that I contribute to. I don't know if that answers your question, but it's something that I been greatly on my mind of late. And a related question right now, in this point in your life, what is something that you're trying to be a better human at? I'm trying to have more patience with people. I'm trying to be better at recognizing that the world is on fire, figuratively and literally, and that everybody is going through a lot. And that moment when I feel the need to judge or they feel the need to cast disapproval on, I need to take a moment and realize that there may be other ____________ than that, which I would assume. Well, Franklin, Leonard, thank you so much for talking with us. It's been an absolute _____ and a pleasure being a ________. Thank you for having me. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of How to be a Better Human. That's our show for today. Thank you to our guest, Franklin Leonard. You can find the black list at B.L. Seek Elstein Dotcom. I am your host, Chris Duffie. This show is ________ by Abby MONITUS, Danielle Arezzo, Frederica Elizabeth Yosfiah and Karen Newman at Ted and Jocelyn Gonzalez, Pedro Rafael Rosado and ______ Lopez among from Peru Productions. For more on how to be a better _____ visit, ideas dot.com. We'll see you next week.

Solution

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  187. cardiff

Original Text

Have you ever in your life met someone who felt like everything at their job and in their industry just worked perfectly, no room for improvement? I definitely have not. In fact, if I was talking to someone and they started to express anything even remotely similar to that view, I would be like, OK, take up the disguise. You're my boss. Undercover. I caught you ripping. My point is, whatever you do for work, there is clearly room for improvement, whether it's making hiring practices more inclusive or limiting the plastic waste and packaging materials work, stopping the spread of misinformation. We all have a role to play in today's episode is all about how to catalyze change. How do you get people to try something new when they're already very familiar and very comfortable with these well-worn paths? Well, Franklin Leonard managed to do just that in Hollywood. He created The Blacklist. It's a list of the unproduced screenplays that Hollywood insiders love the most. And in doing so, he changed the way that Hollywood worked. Once a script made that list, it made the blacklist. And then powerful people started to see that there was consensus that the script was actually amazing. Well, then, these previously unsellable projects, they started getting sold and getting made and winning awards. And here's how Franklin describes the importance of that in his talk at Ted Venice Beach. Simply put, the conventional wisdom about screenwriting merit where it was and where it could be found was wrong. And this is notable because, as I mentioned before, in the triage of finding movies to make and making them, there's a lot of relying on conventional wisdom and that conventional wisdom maybe, just maybe might be wrong to even greater consequence. Films about black people don't sell overseas. Female driven action movies don't work because women will see themselves in men, but men won't see themselves and women that no one wants to see. Movies about women over 40 that are on screen heroes have to conform to a very narrow idea about beauty that we consider conventional. What does that mean when those images are projected thirty feet high and the lights go down for a kid that looks like me in Columbus, Georgia, or Muslim girl in Cardiff, Wales, or a gay kid in Chennai. What does it mean for how we see ourselves and how we see the world and for how the world sees us? We live in very strange times, but I think for the most part, we all live in a state of constant rage. There's just too much information, too much stuff to contend with. And so as a rule, we tend to default to conventional wisdom. I think it's important that we ask ourselves constantly how much of that conventional wisdom is all convention and no wisdom and at what cost. As a writer myself, I think that there is something really amazing here. Normally what makes a script hot is if there's a huge celebrity attached or if it's a remake of something beloved, or if your last movie won six Academy Awards and grossed a billion dollars, you know, and not that those will stop getting scripts attention, I'm sure those guys will keep getting sold. But what's really amazing about what Franklin did is he managed to find another way to get scripts attention. If enough of the people who read scripts all day say that this one, this one deserves attention. Well, now all of a sudden, people actually read it and people would take it seriously. And whatever industry you work in, whatever you do. The question that Franklin's experience with the blacklist raises is, I think central to all progress. How can you challenge conventional wisdom today on how to be a better human? We've got Franklin here to answer that question and so many more. This is Franklin Leonard, founder of The Blacklist. The blacklist has gone from being just a list of the most beloved scripts to so much more than that. So I'm wondering, just in your own words, how do you now think of it and describe what the blacklist is? Yeah, I mean, I think of our North Star as being in identifying and celebrating great screenwriting and the people who do it. And that can take many forms. It's everything from giving folks who are trying to become better screenwriters reasonably priced feedback that from reputable sources. It is when that feedback returns good telling people in the industry that can help their careers and help their movies get made. Hey, this is a really good script. It's providing workshops for the best among those writers, oftentimes in collaboration with other organizations. It's the annual survey of the industry's most liked screenplays. It's the partnered list that we do with GLADD, IMPAC and other sort of affinity groups, you know, for the Muslim community, the Asian Pacific Islander community, etc. , all the way up to and including making some of those scripts and movies. So we're producing a lot of these things now. It's more about how can we be supportive of the Hollywood community at large and especially screenwriters within it. And I think that that as a general guide would sort of be the guiding principle for for everything we do. What's so cool about the blacklist is you basically found a way to give people an excuse to trust their actual taste and to say like this thing that we really love, we actually can make. And I think that's a really powerful thing across industries, not even just in Hollywood. I think that's right. Look, and I don't think that it's that Hollywood lacks imagination. I mean, I can say concretely, having worked in the business for now, for coming up on 18 years, the people that work in Hollywood are wildly imaginative and wildly talented. And it is a joy to be able to work with them. I think that the the difficulty and the frustration is that the industry, you know, people are running scared at all times. And the decisions that are made about the economics of the business are made based on a set of conventional wisdom. That is all conventional wisdom that has been passed down through generations. And implicit in that sort of passed down, conventional wisdom is a ton of bias, some of which is, you know, sort of innocuous. And a lot of it is is terribly dangerous. Right. So it can be something as simple as, you know, certain kinds of action sequences don't work right now. Does it really matter about like, you know, a certain kind of car chases work or don't work in movies? Probably not really. Doesn't matter when we decide, as the industry had for years, that female driven action movies don't work commercially. And the consequences of that we see in our gender relationships, in our daily lives when people assume, oh, well, you can't sell black actors abroad outside of the US, the consequences of that are apocalyptic in terms of like the actual valuing of black lives in America and around the world. Because we make fewer black movies, we don't market those movies abroad, you know, and it's just fundamentally not true. Stacy Smith, a professor at USC, ran the numbers and found that basically when you support movies with diversity in at the same level, that you support movies that don't have that diversity, guess what? They make the same amount of money. People don't have a problem seeing diverse actors on screen or seeing diverse stories. What they want more than anything is for those movies to be good. And what's the blacklist, I hope has done is created more of a true meritocracy where the focus is not who's in the movie, what's the movie about it simply is this a good script? And probably one of the most gratifying things about the sort of 15 year history of the blacklist and. Up on 16 years is that last year, the Harvard Business School did a study on the economics of the Black List and found that movies on the black list, when controlling for every other factor, movies made from scripts on the Black List made 90 percent more in revenue than movies made from scripts, not on the black list. And I want to say it again, because I think that it can't be emphasized enough that movies on the planet that were made from scripts on the Black List made 90 percent more than movies that were made from scripts not on the Blacklist. And there's one reason why, which is if you start with a great screenplay, you have a better chance of making a great movie. And if you make a great movie, you have a better chance of making a profitable one. And so, you know, I think that that's a lesson that everybody instinctively knows. But it's not one that has been the guiding principle of the film industry for a very long time, if ever. So they've kind of worked both artistically and profitably. What lessons do you think you've learned that apply to people who don't work in entertainment or maybe even in a creative field at all? Because it seems like so much of what you've learned here is that challenging the conventional wisdom is not just good for diversity and equity and inclusion. It's also good for the bottom line. That's exactly right. And I think that's probably a number one. Increasing diversity is good for the bottom line, like it's good morally and ethically, but it's also good capitalistically. If we can use that probably neologism. No, look, I think the other the other thing that I've learned. Is that conventional wisdom is more often than not convention and not wisdom? You know, I think that in a world, especially over the last, let's say, 20, 25 years or the amount of information that we're expected to sort of keep in our brain and the analytics that we have to do on a daily basis to do our job and to process the world and to interact with other people, we are inclined to create these rustics that we just take for granted. And a lot of those critics are deeply, deeply, deeply flawed. And we as individuals and as organizations have to do a better job of aggressively interrogating them both for the good of the world, but also for our own individual self-interest. That means that I have to do that as well. Right. Like, this is not just me giving advice to other people and saying, why aren't you doing better? It's me looking in the mirror every day and saying, are you doing better? When you look at your business, are you just saying, well, I'm a black guy from the south, so I'm sure I'm doing fine? Or am I saying, you know, are we good on gender or are we making sure that everybody has a seat at the table? Are we making sure that we're deconstructing the table and deconstructing the house and allowing everybody to rebuild it? And if we're not, then I have to make changes. And I think that's probably the biggest thing is trying to build a mirror for myself that actually presents an image of me as I am and not as I want to imagine myself. If that makes sense, that totally makes sense. So for everyone listening who may not know, last year the Academy issued some new rules for films to be considered for an Oscar. The rules had minimum requirements for diversity and inclusion, and there's been a mixed response as to what the effects of those rules might be. Some people think it's going to make a huge difference. Some people think it doesn't go far enough and some people are angry about it, frankly. And you have really publicly said that you think that the new rules are a good start and you're optimistic. I'm curious, though, if you think they're going to make a real tangible difference in the kinds of movies that are getting produced. But again, because of the way in which the sort of thresholds are structured, if you just hire one like a woman of color in a senior role at your distribution company and like have an internship program with two interns, you're fine. And so the way I read the academy's sort of announcement is a public statement that in order to be a responsible corporate citizen of the film industry, you have to be trying to expand the pipeline ever so slightly. And if you're not doing that, then we're not going to give you the chance of winning an Oscar. But they did not prevent anyone who has made a movie from getting, you know, the sort of laurels that their artistic accomplishment may have earned them. And that's the thing like, look, for me personally, I don't need for any individual movie to include black people. Right. Or any other group. If you want to make a movie with all like made by and about all straight white men over the age of 50 who grew up upper middle class, like more power to you. I just want to make sure that if somebody wants to make a movie about trans women who are black and poor, that they have just as much likelihood of getting that movie made as the white dudes did. And then, you know, best movie wins. The problem is not that we need all of these movies to be super diverse and for all of these groups to be diverse when they make them, though, that would be nice. The problem is, is that for the entire history of Hollywood, we've had massive amounts of affirmative action for one group, white, upper middle class, straight says men and everybody else has to not only make something good, but also do it and overcome all of these obstacles to just getting their movie made or even being in a position where they can make a movie. So I would like to focus on the the access to resources and the access to distribution problem far more than I would. Hey, who's eligible for an Oscar? But I do think that because the Academy Awards are, you know, the time every year when most people are thinking about the the ecosystem of the film industry, it's critical that we have that conversation about the Oscars as part of a broader conversation that should be tackling year round. I also have to say, shout out to Epuron, who came up with the hashtag Oscars so white, there's very little chance that we'd be having this conversation right now if it wasn't for her. And I think it's really important that we remember that Oscars so white is not just about black actors, it is about all non-white men and making sure that everyone is represented in the culture because we have a better culture when that's true and we all make more money when that's true. And I think that, you know, I'm really just in awe of what she built with that with something very, very simple that had the power to change the world. Yeah. And the fact that she did make such a huge impact with that. And she's not at the very top of the power structure and the money. She's not the person. Greenlining. The films, I think, does speak to the fact that. Anyone can actually have a real impact on the films that are getting made in the culture that is being spread around the world. That is the power that all of us have in a world where social media exists. Again, that is a sword that cuts both ways as well. But it is something that that power exists for all of us if we want to become advocates on behalf of any ideas, you know, diversifying Hollywood or diversifying Congress or making sure that people have enough food to eat and a roof over their heads. We'll be right back with more from Franklin Leonard after this break. Here we are, we're back. How do you think people who maybe don't see themselves as having that kind of power, how can they think about the the creative force that they can they can create change? And I think it's really about just modeling your values in your day to day actions. You don't have to be an advocate to to change the way a person sees the world or somebody else. But I think that if you are in a position where you see somebody mistreating somebody else or you see somebody being disrespectful to somebody else or you you hear somebody say something that's maybe not even disrespectful to anybody who's in the room, but maybe tell them, hey. Not cool. Have you considered this? Do you realize that when you say this, you also mean this? That's one way, but also than just modeling kindness? Like, again, it's super simple. It's a super it's a very cliched idea, but on a fundamental basis, you don't know the effect that your actions will have on someone else who may be watching you and you never know who may be watching you. We all fail to live up to our highest ideals. We all do. I know I do. But aspiring towards them has effects that we can never anticipate. And so. You may never even know what the consequences, but you can't really go wrong by trying. Hmm. That's literally saccharin, but true, you know, it's weird. So what can audiences both in the U.S. and abroad, what can audiences do to kind of help support systemic change or broader representation? Ironically, because I think a lot of people in the film and television industry are very uncomfortable with these sort of review aggregators. But Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are a great place to start. You know, look, we are all in a time of sort of super abundance of content, right ? There's more TV shows to watch than any human being could ever watch. There's more movies to watch than any human being could ever watch. And we all want to watch the good stuff. Right. And by good, I want to be clear. I don't mean pretentious. I don't mean Oscar winning. I just mean best in class. Right. Like, if you want to watch a weird comedy, you want to watch the best week comedy. You want to watch the bad one. Right. Film critics, television critics. There are deep problems with those communities. They tend to be, you know, overrepresented by it, by white older men. But seek out critics who who consistently have opinions that mirror your own right. If you love a movie, go find a critic who felt similarly to you that wrote about the movie in a way that you found compelling and go see what else they liked. Right. Because odds are you will find other movies that you will be intrigued by. And then you can be the critic that shares information about those movies with other people in your community. And I know that sounds like a very elaborate thing to do in order to find a good movie or television show. But I promise you two things. One, you will enjoy the process of looking because you will learn about things that you would not otherwise learn about. And if people are reviewing things in a way that is compelling, that process alone will be entertaining. And too, you will find better things to watch. You will have fewer nights where you made the decision to watch something for two hours and at the end of the two hours you're like, that's two hours of my life. I'm never getting back. So there's there's obviously a huge portion of the movie going audience that mainly watches things like superhero movies or big franchise films. Do you not believe that that's a problem? I think people should watch what they like. And if that's superhero movies, it's all good. Right? There are a lot of really good superhero movies out there. Black Panther, excellent film. Thor Ragnarok, excellent film. Right. Thor Ragnarok is a meditation on refugees and the displacement of peoples Black Panther. There's a reason why Immigrant Song is the song they play over the climactic battle scene. Black Panther is about many things, but it is fundamentally about this tension between, you know, the black community wanting to sort of shutter itself off and sort of integrate into the world despite the tortures that the rest of the world has put us through. Right. As Martin versus Malcolm and literally the climactic fight scene happens on a literal underground railroad. There's a tendency for a lot of people to sort of tut tut about, you know, these big studio action movies and act like they're somehow like a diminution of the art form. And I just have never believe that that's true. Now, some of them are not good, but there are many indie pretentious movies that are not good either. So what I would say is, is look for things that you love. And if you loved that thing right, if you love Black Panther, maybe check out Creed by the same director , Ryan Coogler. And if you love Creed, maybe check out Fruitvale Station also by that director. You know, if you loved Thor Ragnarok, there's a reason Tycho Waititi, right. An indigenous New Zealander, got the job for Thor. Why don't you go watch the stuff that he made that got him that job? There's a good chance you're going to like that, too. And the thing about it is, is you're the only person losing by not checking those things out. Right. Like they got your money for Thor, they got your money for Black Panther. The industry is going to be fine. You have an opportunity and the world is going to open up to you and you're going to have these moments of joy in these moments of sadness and these moments of exhilaration that you haven't gotten to have yet. And that is fundamentally, for me at least, the beauty of film when the beauty of art and the beauty of a cultural world in which we live. You know, we've been talking about movies and cinema, but obviously the experience of watching a film has changed dramatically with theaters being closed. I guess even if they're open, people being scared to go. I even think about that a little bit personally, because there's a movie theater right down the block from where I live here in Los Angeles. And on their big marquee rather than new movie title, it says to be continued. But it's said that for months now and their doors still haven't reopened. So what at first was kind of just like charming and even funny sign is now a real open question, right? Like, will that theater ever actually reopen? And I hope they do. I hope they do, because I think that there's something really powerful about seeing movies in person. That classic experience, which you describe so beautifully in your talk from a few years ago. Here's a clip of that this weekend. Tens of millions of people in the United States and tens of millions of. All around the world, in Columbus, Georgia , in Cardiff, Wales, in Chongqing, China, in Chennai, India, will leave their homes, they'll get in their cars or they'll take public transportation, or they will carry themselves by foot and they'll step into a room and sit down next to someone they don't know or maybe someone they do. And the lights will go down and they'll watch a movie. They watch movies about aliens or robots or robot aliens or regular people, but they will all be movies about what it means to be human. Millions will feel all or fear, millions will laugh and millions will cry, and then the lights will come back on and they'll reemerge into the world they knew several hours prior. And millions of people will look at the world a little bit differently than they did when they went in by going to temple or a mosque or a church or any other religious institution. Movie going is in many ways a sacred ritual, repeated week after week after week. I'll be there this weekend, just like I was on most weekends between the years of 1996 and 1990 at the multiplex near the shopping mall, about five miles from my childhood home in Columbus, Georgia. The funny thing is that somewhere between then and now, I accidentally changed part of the conversation about which of those movies get made. You obviously gave that talk well before the pandemic or any of the current concerns about movie theaters and public health existed. But I imagine you must be thinking about that a lot during this time right now. So do you have any new perspective on why movies matter and why this experience matters? Well, you know, I think the absence of these communal environments wherein we learn about what it means to be human and right. And that was sort of a link that I was making between religion and movies, is that, you know, um, but I think what's interesting to me about movies and I would include television and really any storytelling in this regard or art more generally, the movies as a popular medium is that, you know, fortunately we have these virtual spaces where we can sort of commune around them and it's not quite the same, but it still ends up being a common language and a common touch point for humankind. Right. You know, I think Netflix just put out that they had seventy eight million people watched Gina Prince Bythewood movie The Old Guard. And when I meet somebody and they've watched it also, we will have a really positive conversation about Gina Prince bywords, brilliant work, and we will feel closer as a consequence. And that has nothing to do with us being both black or both men or whatever it is. It's just that like we saw this thing about these people and we bonded over it. I don't know. I'm really appreciative that that exists. Now, that's the positive side. There is also a negative side, which is and I think that the sort of moment of racial reckoning that we're seeing around the globe is in large part connected to the movie industry, because when we go into a room and we sit with a lot of people we don't know and we learn about the world and what we learn about the world is a lie in terms of race, in terms of gender , in terms of sexuality, in terms of religion. Those lies being projected 40 feet high in front of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people have real human substantive consequences, particularly for black lives. You know, I've increasingly, over the last few months been struck by the notion that the first ever Hollywood blockbuster was birth of a nation. And, you know, we're seeing the consequences of it now. So I think it cuts both ways. I'm and part of the reason why I'm so attracted to film as an art form is because it does cut both ways incredibly sharply and with an incredibly large sword. Hmm. What is one movie or book or cultural artifact or idea that's made you a better human? I mean. Look, I'm very lucky in that I have two parents who. Very clearly communicated to me and my two younger siblings that we could do anything and as black kids in the Deep South in the 80s, that probably wasn't true. But they convinced us of that anyway, and I think between that and their very clear expectation that the obligation that we had was not just to do whatever we wanted to do and aspire to whatever we wanted to aspire towards, it was to make sure that we made it more likely that anybody had more of a chance of doing it. Somehow they managed to convince us that, like we could do anything and also explain to us that the world was organized so that not everybody could and that we it was our responsibility to make sure that everybody could. And that's not a cultural artifact, but it's the thing that for me, I'm most thankful for and it's the thing that I hope I'm able to incorporate from a values perspective and all of my work and the arts that I contribute to. I don't know if that answers your question, but it's something that I been greatly on my mind of late. And a related question right now, in this point in your life, what is something that you're trying to be a better human at? I'm trying to have more patience with people. I'm trying to be better at recognizing that the world is on fire, figuratively and literally, and that everybody is going through a lot. And that moment when I feel the need to judge or they feel the need to cast disapproval on, I need to take a moment and realize that there may be other explanations than that, which I would assume. Well, Franklin, Leonard, thank you so much for talking with us. It's been an absolute honor and a pleasure being a pleasure. Thank you for having me. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of How to be a Better Human. That's our show for today. Thank you to our guest, Franklin Leonard. You can find the black list at B.L. Seek Elstein Dotcom. I am your host, Chris Duffie. This show is produced by Abby MONITUS, Danielle Arezzo, Frederica Elizabeth Yosfiah and Karen Newman at Ted and Jocelyn Gonzalez, Pedro Rafael Rosado and Sandra Lopez among from Peru Productions. For more on how to be a better human visit, ideas dot.com. We'll see you next week.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
conventional wisdom 11
black list 5
franklin leonard 3
action movies 3
black panther 3
black people 2
female driven 2
driven action 2
feet high 2
academy awards 2
guiding principle 2
black lives 2
support movies 2
upper middle 2
superhero movies 2
excellent film 2
art form 2
gina prince 2

ngrams of length 3

collocation frequency
female driven action 2
driven action movies 2

ngrams of length 4

collocation frequency
female driven action movies 2

Important Words

  1. abby
  2. absence
  3. absolute
  4. abundance
  5. academy
  6. access
  7. accidentally
  8. accomplishment
  9. act
  10. action
  11. actions
  12. actors
  13. actual
  14. advice
  15. advocate
  16. advocates
  17. affinity
  18. affirmative
  19. age
  20. aggregators
  21. aggressively
  22. aliens
  23. allowing
  24. amazing
  25. america
  26. amount
  27. amounts
  28. analytics
  29. angeles
  30. angry
  31. announcement
  32. annual
  33. answer
  34. answers
  35. anticipate
  36. apocalyptic
  37. apply
  38. appreciative
  39. arezzo
  40. art
  41. artifact
  42. artistic
  43. artistically
  44. arts
  45. asian
  46. aspire
  47. aspiring
  48. assume
  49. attached
  50. attention
  51. attracted
  52. audience
  53. audiences
  54. awards
  55. awe
  56. bad
  57. based
  58. basically
  59. basis
  60. battle
  61. beach
  62. beautifully
  63. beauty
  64. behalf
  65. beloved
  66. bias
  67. big
  68. biggest
  69. billion
  70. birth
  71. bit
  72. black
  73. blacklist
  74. block
  75. blockbuster
  76. bonded
  77. book
  78. boss
  79. bottom
  80. brain
  81. break
  82. brilliant
  83. broader
  84. build
  85. built
  86. business
  87. bythewood
  88. bywords
  89. capitalistically
  90. car
  91. cardiff
  92. careers
  93. carry
  94. cars
  95. cast
  96. catalyze
  97. caught
  98. celebrating
  99. celebrity
  100. central
  101. challenge
  102. challenging
  103. chance
  104. change
  105. changed
  106. charming
  107. chases
  108. check
  109. checking
  110. chennai
  111. childhood
  112. china
  113. chongqing
  114. chris
  115. church
  116. cinema
  117. citizen
  118. class
  119. classic
  120. clear
  121. cliched
  122. climactic
  123. clip
  124. closed
  125. closer
  126. collaboration
  127. color
  128. columbus
  129. comedy
  130. comfortable
  131. coming
  132. commercially
  133. common
  134. communal
  135. commune
  136. communicated
  137. communities
  138. community
  139. company
  140. compelling
  141. concerns
  142. concretely
  143. conform
  144. congress
  145. connected
  146. consensus
  147. consequence
  148. consequences
  149. considered
  150. consistently
  151. constant
  152. constantly
  153. contend
  154. content
  155. continued
  156. contribute
  157. controlling
  158. convention
  159. conventional
  160. conversation
  161. convince
  162. convinced
  163. coogler
  164. cool
  165. corporate
  166. cost
  167. create
  168. created
  169. creative
  170. creed
  171. critic
  172. critical
  173. critics
  174. cry
  175. cultural
  176. culture
  177. curious
  178. current
  179. cut
  180. cuts
  181. daily
  182. dangerous
  183. danielle
  184. day
  185. decide
  186. decision
  187. decisions
  188. deconstructing
  189. deep
  190. deeply
  191. default
  192. describe
  193. describes
  194. deserves
  195. difference
  196. differently
  197. difficulty
  198. diminution
  199. director
  200. disapproval
  201. disguise
  202. displacement
  203. disrespectful
  204. distribution
  205. diverse
  206. diversifying
  207. diversity
  208. dollars
  209. doors
  210. dot
  211. dotcom
  212. dramatically
  213. driven
  214. dudes
  215. duffie
  216. earned
  217. eat
  218. economics
  219. ecosystem
  220. effect
  221. effects
  222. elaborate
  223. eligible
  224. elizabeth
  225. elstein
  226. emphasized
  227. ends
  228. enjoy
  229. entertaining
  230. entertainment
  231. entire
  232. environments
  233. episode
  234. epuron
  235. equity
  236. ethically
  237. excellent
  238. excuse
  239. exhilaration
  240. existed
  241. exists
  242. expand
  243. expectation
  244. expected
  245. experience
  246. explain
  247. explanations
  248. express
  249. fact
  250. factor
  251. fail
  252. familiar
  253. fear
  254. feedback
  255. feel
  256. feet
  257. felt
  258. female
  259. field
  260. fight
  261. figuratively
  262. film
  263. films
  264. find
  265. finding
  266. fine
  267. fire
  268. flawed
  269. focus
  270. folks
  271. food
  272. foot
  273. force
  274. form
  275. forms
  276. fortunately
  277. founder
  278. franchise
  279. franklin
  280. frankly
  281. frederica
  282. front
  283. fruitvale
  284. frustration
  285. fundamental
  286. fundamentally
  287. funny
  288. gave
  289. gay
  290. gender
  291. general
  292. generally
  293. generations
  294. georgia
  295. gina
  296. girl
  297. give
  298. giving
  299. gladd
  300. globe
  301. gonzalez
  302. good
  303. granted
  304. gratifying
  305. great
  306. greater
  307. greatly
  308. greenlining
  309. grew
  310. grossed
  311. group
  312. groups
  313. guard
  314. guess
  315. guest
  316. guide
  317. guiding
  318. guy
  319. guys
  320. harvard
  321. hashtag
  322. heads
  323. health
  324. hear
  325. heroes
  326. hey
  327. high
  328. highest
  329. hire
  330. hiring
  331. history
  332. hmm
  333. hollywood
  334. home
  335. homes
  336. honor
  337. hope
  338. host
  339. hot
  340. hours
  341. house
  342. huge
  343. human
  344. humankind
  345. hundreds
  346. idea
  347. ideals
  348. ideas
  349. identifying
  350. image
  351. images
  352. imagination
  353. imaginative
  354. imagine
  355. immigrant
  356. impac
  357. impact
  358. implicit
  359. importance
  360. important
  361. improvement
  362. inclined
  363. include
  364. including
  365. inclusion
  366. inclusive
  367. incorporate
  368. increasing
  369. increasingly
  370. incredibly
  371. india
  372. indie
  373. indigenous
  374. individual
  375. individuals
  376. industries
  377. industry
  378. information
  379. innocuous
  380. insiders
  381. instinctively
  382. institution
  383. integrate
  384. interact
  385. interesting
  386. interns
  387. internship
  388. interrogating
  389. intrigued
  390. ironically
  391. islander
  392. issued
  393. job
  394. jocelyn
  395. joy
  396. judge
  397. karen
  398. kid
  399. kids
  400. kind
  401. kindness
  402. kinds
  403. knew
  404. lacks
  405. language
  406. large
  407. late
  408. laugh
  409. laurels
  410. learn
  411. learned
  412. leave
  413. leonard
  414. lesson
  415. lessons
  416. level
  417. lie
  418. lies
  419. life
  420. lights
  421. likelihood
  422. limiting
  423. line
  424. link
  425. list
  426. listening
  427. literal
  428. literally
  429. live
  430. lives
  431. long
  432. lopez
  433. los
  434. losing
  435. lot
  436. love
  437. loved
  438. lucky
  439. making
  440. malcolm
  441. mall
  442. managed
  443. market
  444. marquee
  445. martin
  446. massive
  447. materials
  448. matter
  449. matters
  450. means
  451. media
  452. meditation
  453. medium
  454. meet
  455. men
  456. mentioned
  457. merit
  458. meritocracy
  459. met
  460. metacritic
  461. middle
  462. miles
  463. million
  464. millions
  465. mind
  466. minimum
  467. mirror
  468. misinformation
  469. mistreating
  470. mixed
  471. modeling
  472. moment
  473. moments
  474. money
  475. monitus
  476. months
  477. morally
  478. mosque
  479. movie
  480. movies
  481. multiplex
  482. muslim
  483. narrow
  484. nation
  485. negative
  486. neologism
  487. netflix
  488. newman
  489. nice
  490. nights
  491. north
  492. notable
  493. notion
  494. number
  495. numbers
  496. obligation
  497. obstacles
  498. odds
  499. oftentimes
  500. older
  501. open
  502. opinions
  503. opportunity
  504. optimistic
  505. order
  506. organizations
  507. organized
  508. oscar
  509. oscars
  510. overcome
  511. overrepresented
  512. overseas
  513. pacific
  514. packaging
  515. pandemic
  516. panther
  517. parents
  518. part
  519. partnered
  520. passed
  521. paths
  522. patience
  523. pedro
  524. people
  525. peoples
  526. percent
  527. perfectly
  528. person
  529. personally
  530. perspective
  531. peru
  532. pipeline
  533. place
  534. planet
  535. plastic
  536. play
  537. pleasure
  538. point
  539. poor
  540. popular
  541. portion
  542. position
  543. positive
  544. power
  545. powerful
  546. practices
  547. presents
  548. pretentious
  549. prevent
  550. previously
  551. priced
  552. prince
  553. principle
  554. prior
  555. problem
  556. problems
  557. process
  558. produced
  559. producing
  560. productions
  561. professor
  562. profitable
  563. profitably
  564. program
  565. progress
  566. projected
  567. projects
  568. promise
  569. providing
  570. public
  571. publicly
  572. put
  573. question
  574. race
  575. racial
  576. rafael
  577. rage
  578. ragnarok
  579. railroad
  580. raises
  581. ran
  582. read
  583. real
  584. realize
  585. reason
  586. rebuild
  587. reckoning
  588. recognizing
  589. reemerge
  590. refugees
  591. regard
  592. regular
  593. related
  594. relationships
  595. religion
  596. religious
  597. relying
  598. remake
  599. remember
  600. remotely
  601. reopen
  602. reopened
  603. repeated
  604. representation
  605. represented
  606. reputable
  607. requirements
  608. resources
  609. response
  610. responsibility
  611. responsible
  612. rest
  613. returns
  614. revenue
  615. review
  616. reviewing
  617. ripping
  618. ritual
  619. robot
  620. robots
  621. role
  622. roof
  623. room
  624. rosado
  625. rotten
  626. rule
  627. rules
  628. running
  629. rustics
  630. ryan
  631. saccharin
  632. sacred
  633. sadness
  634. sandra
  635. scared
  636. scene
  637. school
  638. screen
  639. screenplay
  640. screenplays
  641. screenwriters
  642. screenwriting
  643. script
  644. scripts
  645. seat
  646. seek
  647. sees
  648. sell
  649. senior
  650. sense
  651. sequences
  652. set
  653. seventy
  654. sexuality
  655. shares
  656. sharply
  657. shopping
  658. shout
  659. show
  660. shows
  661. shutter
  662. siblings
  663. side
  664. sign
  665. similar
  666. similarly
  667. simple
  668. simply
  669. sit
  670. slightly
  671. smith
  672. social
  673. sold
  674. song
  675. sort
  676. sounds
  677. sources
  678. south
  679. spaces
  680. speak
  681. spread
  682. stacy
  683. star
  684. start
  685. started
  686. state
  687. statement
  688. states
  689. station
  690. step
  691. stop
  692. stopping
  693. stories
  694. storytelling
  695. straight
  696. strange
  697. struck
  698. structure
  699. structured
  700. studio
  701. study
  702. stuff
  703. substantive
  704. sudden
  705. super
  706. superhero
  707. support
  708. supportive
  709. survey
  710. sword
  711. systemic
  712. table
  713. tackling
  714. talented
  715. talk
  716. talking
  717. tangible
  718. taste
  719. ted
  720. television
  721. telling
  722. temple
  723. tend
  724. tendency
  725. tens
  726. tension
  727. terms
  728. terribly
  729. thankful
  730. theater
  731. theaters
  732. thinking
  733. thor
  734. thresholds
  735. time
  736. times
  737. title
  738. today
  739. tomatoes
  740. ton
  741. top
  742. tortures
  743. totally
  744. touch
  745. trans
  746. transportation
  747. triage
  748. true
  749. trust
  750. tut
  751. tv
  752. tycho
  753. um
  754. uncomfortable
  755. undercover
  756. underground
  757. united
  758. unproduced
  759. unsellable
  760. upper
  761. usc
  762. values
  763. valuing
  764. venice
  765. view
  766. virtual
  767. visit
  768. waititi
  769. wales
  770. wanted
  771. wanting
  772. waste
  773. watch
  774. watched
  775. watches
  776. watching
  777. ways
  778. week
  779. weekend
  780. weekends
  781. weird
  782. white
  783. wildly
  784. winning
  785. wins
  786. wisdom
  787. woman
  788. women
  789. won
  790. wondering
  791. words
  792. work
  793. worked
  794. workshops
  795. world
  796. writer
  797. writers
  798. wrong
  799. wrote
  800. yeah
  801. year
  802. years
  803. yosfiah
  804. younger
  805. zealander