Diversity in Film (Bechdel, DuVernay and Vito Russo Test)

To ensure scripts are inclusive of females and ethnic groups, one or more of these tests can be applied.

In an era of #metoo and #blacklivesmatter, filmmakers are more aware than ever of how inclusive their projects are to females and diverse ethnic groups. Over the past decade several tests have been proposed to evaluate and measure a scripts diversity and inclusivity.

Here are three popular tests to help evaluate your project:

The Bechdel Test was created in 1985 by Alison Bechdel as a way to measure the representation of strong female characters in film and television. It uses three criteria for evaluation, usually at the script stage, to assess the way female characters are portrayed.

The three criteria are:

  • Are there at least two named female characters?

  • Do they speak to each other?

  • Do they speak to each other about something other than a male "love" interest?

The Vitto Russo Test was established in 2013 to evaluate GLBTQ+ character and askes writers and filmmakers to consider these questions:

  • Does the film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender?

  • Are any of the characters solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e. they are comprised of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight/non-transgender characters from one another)?

  • Are the LGBTQ+ characters tied to the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant impact (i.e. they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or set up a punchline. The character must matter.)?

The DuVernay Test was established in 2016 and named after African American director Ava DuVernay. This evaluation measures the inclusion of people of color through these five points:

  • Are any of the characters of color whitewashed or played by actors of a different ethnicity?

  • Do the characters of color pursue their own goals separate from the white characters?

  • Do the characters of color primarily talk about race?

  • Do the characters of color fulfil harmful, simplistic or down-right racist stereotypes?

  • Is the director, writer, and/or creator representative of the story's culture?

These tests are used to raise awareness for films and their need for authentic and inclusive representations of the whole human fabric.

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