Out, gay and deaf actor, director and writer Dickie Hearts was selected among top finalists as recipient of the inaugural SEE YOURSELF initiative, created to improve the presence of LGBTQ people and stories within television and film. Dickie will receive $5k and a development deal to bring to life his original digital series pitch with Project Greenlight Digital Studios (PGLDS) and Section II.
"GLAAD is proud to have partnered with Project Greenlight Digital Studios and Section II in selecting Dickie Hearts as the recipient of the inaugural SEE YOURSELF production grant for his funny and groundbreaking pitch for 'SAVE THE WORLD," said Ray Bradford, Director of Programs, Entertainment Media, at GLAAD.
"Telling an episodic, comedic superhero story with a gay, deaf protagonist is not only unique and worthy of support, but it accelerates acceptance by amplifying the voices of queer people with disabilities, whose stories often go overlooked."
Filmmakers were invited to submit a short pitch for an original digital series, focusing on themes relevant to LGBTQ audiences. The contest allowed a variety of genres to be submitted that ranged from dramatic, to comedic, to thriller, or documentary style. Twenty semi-finalists were then selected and voted on by the public. The “audience winner” automatically moved to the Top Five where they and four other finalists were then asked to provide additional materials.
The winning video is entitled SAVE THE WORLD and was made entirely by a deaf crew through sign language, with the exception of a sound person and voiceover artist, and there was a mixed deaf and hearing cast with interpreters on set. Grant recipient Dickie Hearts states:
"I am incredibly grateful and humbled by this amazing opportunity, which is truly a win for the LGBT, Sign Language, Disability, and Diversity communities. More importantly, I cannot wait to share this superhero love story that I am most passionate about."
These finalists were chosen by the creative teams at PGLDS, Section II, and GLAAD, in addition to a panel of several LGBTQ-identified judges which included creator/writer/actor Kit Williamson (Netflix’s Eastsiders), writer/comedian Lauren Flans (Wild ‘N Out), and filmmakers David Au (Eat With Me), Michelle Ehlen (Butch Jamie), and Andrew Putschoegl (BFFs).
Adaptive Studios’ Vice President of Digital Video, Brittany Turner, said “We are beyond proud to have partnered with both Section II and GLAAD on this significant contest. We at Project Greenlight Digital Studios aim to provide opportunities to up-and-coming filmmakers. Collaborating with these two great organizations helped us extend that opportunity to emerging talent and showcase the LGBTQ community.” She continued “We’re very excited for Dickie Hearts and are looking forward to working with him on developing his original digital series.”
Allie Esslinger added “Section II is thrilled to be working with Dickie and the entire SAVE THE WORLD team as they create a truly unique story and showcase an exciting array of LGBTQ characters from across the spectrum. It's always been our mission to provide filmmakers with opportunities to expand their work and audiences with new filmmakers to follow and support. Having had the support of Project Greenlight Digital Studios and GLAAD for this competition has allowed us to be an ally to both creators and consumers in the LGBTQ space.”
The need for original, creative and diverse LGBTQ content is all too apparent when you analyze the findings within GLAAD's annual entertainment industry studies. As found within the 2015 Where We Are On TV report, only 25 (4%) of the 881 regular characters expected to have appeared within the 2015-2016 broadcast primetime season were identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. And of the 126 releases counted from the major film studios within the 2016 Studio Responsibility Index, only 22 (17.5%) contained LGBT characters. In partnering to create the SEE YOURSELF digital series initiative, GLAAD advanced its mission of accelerating acceptance by pushing for more LGBTQ characters and substantive storylines.
More information on the contest and the winning video can be found HERE.
Adaptive Studios is a pioneering media studio focused on the acquisition and development of intellectual property across all platforms. Sourcing material through partners including studios, talent agencies, management companies and production houses, as well as in-house, Adaptive creates and produces film, television, digital entertainment, books and graphic novels – focusing on whichever platform best fits the story. Adaptive produced the highly acclaimed, Emmy®-winning Project Greenlight for HBO and, alongside the show’s executive producers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, launched Project Greenlight Digital Studios last year. Through PGLDS, they are actively “greenlighting” an expanding slate of new digital series with emerging filmmakers. For more information visit www.adaptivestudios.com.
Section II is the destination platform for audiences seeking female-focused LGBTQ films and television. The company showcases content and creators relevant to the queer-female demographic and has licensed and acquired the world’s largest collection of LBTQ features, shorts, and series. With their Digital Marketplace up and running, the company has recently expanded into producing original content, including the series FOR EX-LOVERS ONLY by Andrew Gitomer and Jonathan Stromberg, which screened ahead of last night’s announcement of the SEE YOURSELF competition at Outfest.