'Hangover' producer says new production company employs primarily women of color

Scott Budnick, the producer of the “Hangover” and “Old School” movies, says he made diversity a top priority at his new production company.

“The company is majority women of color,” Budnick, who is the CEO and founder of One Community, told Hill.TV’s Jamal Simmons during an interview that aired on Monday.

“When we walk into meetings in Hollywood that is kind of very male and very white — it’s definitely a different look,” he continued. “But really I think that of course makes us all better.”

Budnick added that the production company has also made an conscious effort to hire former inmates throughout the company, including assistants, interns and executives.

“We want to come to a place of real proximity to the stories we’re telling,” he told Hill.TV.

Budnick made a name for himself creating blockbuster comedies, but in 2013 he decided to switch gears and focus his attention on social justice issues, such as criminal justice reform. He went on to form a support network for former prison inmates known as the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, and in 2018 he created production company One Community.

One Community, formally known as “Good Films,” has raised $50 million in slate financing. The company aims to create movies and shows geared towards sparking positive social change.

The production company is a co-financer on the upcoming Warner Bros. release, “Just Mercy.” The film chronicles the story of civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson and his fight to free an innocent man from death row.

Budnick said the upcoming movie, which stars Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, isn’t a typical issue-based film, saying he doesn’t like content that tries to “preach” to viewers. 

“I don’t like to call it a social impact campaign only because I really believe this is a big, movie star-driven awards-winning film,” he told Hill.TV. “It’s not an eat your vegetables, take your medicine issue-type film.”

The producer hopes the film will create more awareness around the need for criminal justice reform.

In December, President Trump signed the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill known as the First Step Act into law.

The sweeping legislation is aimed at reducing mandatory minimum sentences in certain instances and preventing lapses in criminal offenses by helping former inmates reenter society.

But some advocates argue that criminal justice reform still has a long way to go, saying the overhaul only addresses prisoners at the federal level, which accounts for just a small percentage of the overall U.S. prison population.

“From the left and the right, there are going to be ways to activate around criminal justice reform once you see this film,” he told Hill.TV.

“Just Mercy” is set to open nationwide on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 20, 2020.

—Tess Bonn