A Vancouver film production company is apologizing over what it’s calling a “misunderstanding” after a crew member was ordered to remove a Black Lives Matter T-shirt because it was “too political.”
The lighting technician, who Global News has agreed to call Billy because they fear speaking out could limit future employment, said the incident happened Wednesday on the set of the true crime film Gone Mom.
“My boss came up to say my producer saw me wearing the shirt, and told me not to wear any more Black Lives Matters shirts or anything that’s too political on set,” Billy said.
They refused to remove the shirt, and told the employer they weren’t coming back the next day.
“Black Lives Matter is a human rights movement, and it’s not a political one. He’s wrong to think that it’s inappropriate attire at work,” Billy said, adding that on-set dress code for off-screen crew is considered “anything that is comfortable.”
“It was very upsetting. I kept to myself the whole day, and I just couldn’t take it anymore so I started telling my family and my friends.”
That’s when things snowballed, as crew members took to social media in outrage over the incident, several of them coming to work the next day wearing Black Lives Matters shirts of their own — only to be told to remove them as well.
Some talent even threatened not to work, Billy said.
“Someone told me that actors caught wind with what happened and they were calling their managers and were trying to get the correct information about this attire policy, from the production, and that if nothing was done they were going to walk out.”
Billy told Global news that following the outcry, they got a phone call from two other producers on the production Thursday night.
“They sent their apologies to me on behalf of (the other producer) and the production studio, and that something like this should never have happened, and the policy will change and there was a misunderstanding,” Billy said.
“I really felt that their apology was sincere.”
Friday afternoon, they said they also accepted an apology from the producer who wanted the shirt removed.
In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Slumber Productions said the company encourages “our staff to support any political or social they are passionate about.”
“Unfortunately a producer on the set of Gone Mom misinterpreted the guidelines for appropriate workplace attire and ask crew members to change clothing.”
“All of our crew members are welcome to wear apparel that reflects the causes they support.”
The company said no crew members were asked to leave or disciplined.
The producer at the centre of the controversy apologized to affected crew and was removed from the set, it said.
Billy added that they hoped the incident brought attention to the issues around Black Lives Matters and spurs people to learn and improve.
“It’s just unbelievable that something like this happens. It never should have happened to begin with,” they said.
That appears to be what has happened, as supporters throughout the industry are planning to wear BLM attire to work on Monday as a show of support