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Studio drives diversity through data

A studio backed by venture capital firm Atomic and led by former CBS and BuzzFeed executives is aiming to use data science to advance diversity in film and TV.

Kartik Hosanagar

Jumpcut is claiming to be the world’s first data science-driven studio to be “de-risking” diversity in film and TV by identify underrepresented storytellers with high potential.

Designed to help Hollywood buyers source inclusive talent and evolve beyond sequel culture, the storytellers identified by Jumpcut will then be partnered with potential producing partners and buyers.

Twelve projects are already in the works with Disney and producers Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting), Shelby Stone (Bessie, The Chi) and showrunner Scott Rosenbaum (Chuck, The Shield), according to Jumpcut, which is led by CEO and founder Kartik Hosanagar, author of A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence.

The Wharton professor and data scientist came up with the idea for Jumpcut after he said he experienced industry bias first-hand, when producers interested in his screenplay didn’t feel confident taking a chance on an unknown writer’s work.

Hosanagar is joined by Winnie Kemp, previously senior VP of originals at Super Deluxe and CBS, where she developed and executive produced Chambers on Netflix which featured a Native American lead, and This Close on Sundance Channel, a show with deaf creators and cast.

Dilip Rajan, a former product manager at BuzzFeed, who helped scale BuzzFeed quizzes and user-generated content, is also on board.

Jumpcut is seeking to use data to prove demand for diverse voices and stories and to assure buyers there’s an audience so that they can confidently invest.

Research has shown Hollywood loses US$10bn a year due to lack of diversity, and despite films with diverse casts faring well at the box office, decision-makers rely on tried-and-true formulas that reinforce past biases, Jumpcut claims.

The company analyses data from YouTube and other platforms to identify high-potential creators to partner with. These then test their ideas with audiences of 100,000+ potential viewers to narrow their focus to concepts with proven demand and marketing potential.

Creators then participate in the Jumpcut Collective, an incubator programme through which emerging creators develop ideas from concept to pitch in six weeks. In addition to accessing Jumpcut’s data and tech, participants will receive coaching from industry experts.

“There’s never been a more important time to bring greater representation and diversity to Hollywood. I’m deeply enjoying working with Jumpcut to help elevate fresh voices and global stories,” said Bender.

“Everyone says they want the industry to be more inclusive. No one knows how to do it. We’re betting that data and technology can help the film and TV industry be more experimental and bold and advance beyond sequel culture. Jumpcut’s data platform aims to understand audience demand for moonshot projects that don’t involve a superhero or previous mega box office hit,” said Hosanagar.

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