Participant Alyssah Powell works as cinematographer as interns shoot a scene during a session of the Academy Gold Production Track Program at Warner Bros Ranch in Burbank, California, on August 1, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

BURBANK, – Debate is raging inside a dark, cavernous soundstage on the Warner Bros Ranch — about a mushroom.

One film crew member wants to try lighting the six-inch prop from the right. Another favors the left.

Richard Crudo, a veteran Hollywood cinematographer whose credits include “American Pie,” observes for a moment before stepping in.

“If you can light it right, you’re going to get an Academy Award,” he says, with a wry smile.

Crudo is overseeing 30 or so young interns from the elite “Academy Gold” summer program, set up by the industry body in a bid to promote diversity in the aftermath of the #OscarsSoWhite campaign.

The scheme is targeted at those from underrepresented backgrounds — women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.

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It sees aspiring filmmakers attend panels and workshops across Los Angeles in collaboration with Tinseltown giants including Disney, Sony and Paramount — before each is paired up with a mentor.

Crudo — a member of the Academy, which hands out the Oscars — says Hollywood has taken these steps after finally realizing its rich, white male-centered universe was “just an untenable situation.”

“It’s hard for everyone to crack in, and especially hard for minority people and people who’ve been underrepresented in the industry for many years,” he says.

“It was time — it was high time.” (AFP)



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