Equitas Entertainment believes films can have a positive social impact by exploring facets of lives often overlooked and, also, by the manner in which we make our films. Our model endeavors to prove that stories can be entertaining, thought provoking, socially responsible, and fiscally profitable. Gender pay equality matched with opportunities for the under-represented in front of and behind the camera make a more rounded work environment and serve the project at every level.
Equitas was built with the intent to amplify the social themes in the stories we tell with academic curriculum, broader movement campaigns, and to support local organizations. This isn’t just our mission, it’s a core part of our business model.
STATEMENT FROM EQUITAS CO- FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER IMPRISONED – HOLLY LEVOW
Equitas Entertainment Partners is committed to tackling inequalities in the entertainment industry and pursuing social impact through every film we produce. We believe that stories can be entertaining, thought provoking, socially responsible, and fiscally profitable. Equitas was built with the vision of amplifying social themes in the stories we tell by building academic curriculum, joining and contributing to powerful movements for social justice, and supporting local organizations and advocates. This isn’t just our mission, it’s a core part of our business model. We ensure that throughout the lifecycle of our projects, we are being very intentional and purposeful by driving equality in pay, promoting female leadership and creating opportunities for underrepresented populations both in front of and behind the camera.
We implemented our mission in our most recent film, “Imprisoned” , in theaters starting September 12th. “Imprisoned”, tells the story of a man who transformed his life, from previously serving time in prison. Dylan now has a stable job, healthy friendships, and a fulfilling relationship with his wife and passionate advocate, Maria. When the local prison warden realized Dylan was responsible for the death of his wife over 25 years ago he stops at nothing to seek revenge, framing Dylan for murder and having him thrown back in prison under the warden’s charge.
The Teatro Correccional (Correctional Theatre) in Puerto Rico has a three-fold mission: to educate, prevent delinquency and risky behavior, and to provide tools for rehabilitation designed to offer incarcerated men and women an opportunity to gain performance skills, and turn their life experiences into plays that can educate on serious topics like alcohol and drug abuse, faith and its impact on their lives, and peer pressure. Run by actor and director Elia Enid Cadilla, the group staged 100 performances throughout Puerto Rico in 2018, and have already performed 72 times in 2019. The group also does community work, like rehabilitating structures that house abused children, elderly people, or women escaping domestic violence.
According to Elia Enid: “Imprisoned” (and Equitas) was a turning point in our (the Correctional Theater Program’s) lives. For years we have kept the group members (once out of prison), in touch with one another through phone, social media and personal communication, for one of the Program’s elements of success is the feeling of a family that creates and does something for others together, of a group united by art and love of what we do. At first I tried to get them performing together once they were out, but in spite of a great deal of effort and a substantial investment in time and our own resources (for many didn’t have transportation and needed either getting picked up by me or money for gas and tolls, plus other expenses – edibles, water, etc.) the entities who asked for their work (and applauded madly, and praised them) did not want to pay them for it. Only once, a church in Vega Alta paid them a decent amount of money that was recollected from the audience, and each one of them left with $290, an awesome thing for them. (The funny thing is, when they were in prison, lots of people wanted to give them things and fete them, but once they are out, however, they are just ex-cons.) The stories I have collected about these contradictions are sometimes amazing, and sometimes only heartbreaking.
And along came “Imprisoned,” which hired formerly incarcerated people to consult as casting 40 current and formerly incarcerated in the film.
For them to be working with all of you was like a small miracle: they were part of a movie cast (“with artists from Hollywood”, as one of them remarked in amazement), and their training in the Program at last enabled them to be in something special where they were welcome and respected. Some of them are still working in different films and projects. I include some photos I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
A post incarceration film training program is a dream I have sustained for over 15 years. Production is an industry that needs to be developed here and would have work opportunities for people who haven’t had the chance to acquire formal educations, but have natural aptitudes and different talents that would allow them to fit in. I’m not talking about acting, even though some would surely love to continue doing some work on that, but training for frequent or even steady jobs as grips, electricians, gaffer, production assistants, what have you, the list is enormous, for even to be affiliated in related and support industries would have tremendous significance in their lives. Recidivism is only too often closely linked to low self-esteem, lack of work opportunities and hopelessness.”