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Universal Launches Below-the-Line Traineeship, Starting With Jordan Peele’s Nope

February 2, 2022 11:14 | By
Jordan Peele

Image via Universal Pictures

Universal Filmed Entertainment Group has created a California Below-the-Line Traineeship for individuals seeking careers behind the camera — an initiative that will launch with Jordan Peele‘s upcoming horror movie Nope, it was announced Wednesday by NBCUniversal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion division.

The move comes as part of NBCUniversal’s overall commitment to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion within all areas of production, and the company is currently rolling out several wider below-the-line strategies to provide underrepresented talent on-set experience and mentorship. NBCU hopes its traineeship will serve as a model for film and television productions around the world.

Created in collaboration with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), Hollywood Cinema Production Resources (Hollywood CPR) and various IATSE locals, the first cycle of this traineeship welcomed six trainees to the set of Nope, which was filmed on location in Southern California last year. The trainees were comprised of five Hollywood CPR students, who were selected to gain the hours needed to fulfill their Hollywood CPR graduation requirement, and one member from ARC, who joined to gain experience and exposure in visual effects.

Trainees were assigned to a specific department based on their area of study or interest. The selection process included interviews with production executives, relevant stakeholders, and the heads of their respective departments. All trainees will be paid for their work and the duration of each traineeship will vary depending on each production.

“In line with our efforts to provide more gateways into the industry, we could not be more excited to bring this traineeship to a new generation of below-the-line talent,” said Donna Langley, chairman of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. “Honing your craft on the set of a Jordan Peele movie is an opportunity that none of the trainees took for granted. We are extremely grateful to Jordan and the entire Monkeypaw team, who share our passion and commitment to investing in diversity and early career development.”

The Class

Image via Haut et Court

“At our core, Monkeypaw has always sought to highlight underrepresented voices and we have been honored to help share those stories with audiences. We are privileged to further our mission as the first production to partner with the California Below-the-Line Traineeship,” added Monkeypaw president Win Rosenfeld. “It is crucial not only to Monkeypaw’s growth, but the growth of the film industry that all producers collectively commit to initiatives that bring awareness and opportunities to underserved communities to help careers flourish.”

Upon admission, trainees started receiving support and guidance to participate in production meetings, departmental meet-and-greets, and relevant health and safety training. All trainees were also assigned a GTDI and HR partner to ensure the experience would be as rewarding as possible.

Diversity, equity and inclusion have long been hallmarks of UFEG. In 2017, under Langley’s leadership, the studio launched its GTDI department, becoming the first major feature studio to establish a department reporting directly to the Chairman, and the only studio to address these issues with one team delving into both content and work culture.

“As our state works to expand career opportunities for more Californians in the film and television industry, the California Below-the-Line Traineeship is a welcome initiative to increase diversity in below-the-line crew,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Traineeships are an important tool to expand access and foster a more inclusive workforce, supporting California’s commitment to an equitable recovery.”

Governor Newsom recently signed legislation expanding the state’s successful film and television tax credit program, including incentives to meet diversity goals for above and below-the-line workers. The Film and Television Tax Credit Program 3.0 also includes a Pilot Skills Training Program, which provides technical skills training to individuals from underserved communities.

As one of the inaugural collaborators of this traineeship, Hollywood CPR was tapped by GTDI and UFEG because of its long-running program, which over the past 25 years has proven itself as a career pathway into the entertainment industry for locals who don’t have the resources or access. Through this initiative, Hollywood CPR will funnel its talented students and expand its capacity to provide even more training opportunities to the community.