Screen Australia Kiboshes Gender Gap With $3M Pledge To Female Filmmakers

It’s an absolutely enormous day for the Australian screen industry, you guys. And if you’re a fan of locally-focused stories created and told by kickass women, then get ready for content.
Back in December Screen Australia announced the beginning of their ‘Gender Matters‘ initiative, which would set aside funding and create programs to stimulate a shift towards gender parity in the Australian film industry. The government-backed film fund set the goal of funding creative teams and stories that are at least 50% female by 2018.
Today, in what is a record-breaking day for the board, Screen Australia revealed the first batch of projects to receive funding under the initiative. 45 story ideas, 13 industry-backed career initiatives, for a total of 58 new projects. This is the largest batch of projects funded in a single day in the agency’s history, by some margin.
Screen Australia COO Fiona Cameron stated that the announcement today is an absolute “game-changer” for the industry, with projects from film, TV, and online all receiving vital cash.

“Gender Matters is unashamedly providing express-lane access to female business ideas and stories. The funding boost provided by Screen Australia has been a game-changer, providing the industry with an opportunity to get behind some very commercial and creative prospects. It’s now time for action.”

Meanwhile Gender Matters task force chair Deanne Weir stressed the importance of going outside of Screen Australia’s usually very rigid selection guidelines in order to find important emerging voices.

“What is significant is not just the number of applications we have been able to attract and support, but that the Gender Matters program has opened up funding opportunities for applicants who might otherwise fall outside of the established structures. For instance, nearly 20% of the successful Brilliant Stories teams would not normally be eligible for Screen Australia development funding because they do not have that magic first professional credit. Although there are good reasons for these checks and balances, by opening the door a little wider, Screen Australia is showing faith in the potential of many female filmmakers. I absolutely believe that the opportunities being created today will have a resounding effect on our screen industry for many years to come.”

The program was founded to address the rampant disparity in the industry, which currently only sees female representation in about 32% of working producers, 23% of writers, and just 16% of directors in the Australian film and TV industries.

The new slate of commissioned projects features works from a raft of new and established names. Some of the more notable projects are as follows:
  • Rachel Griffiths directorial debut in ‘Ride Like a Girl,’ a feature film based on Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.
  • A romantic comedy film from Nakkiah Lui featuring an interracial couple entitled ‘Kill the Messenger.’
  • Kat Stewart‘s TV writing debut in ‘The Elementals,’ about a group of washed-up superheroes living together in a sharehouse.
  • Sex in the West,’ a 1hr comedy/drama series focusing on three Arab, Muslim, and Christian female friends living in modern Western Sydney.
  • Sheilas,’ a web series from Giant Dwarf and Hannah and Eliza Reilly, playfully celebrating the forgotten badass women of Australian history.
  • Funny Rabbit,’ a dark comedy series from Biddy O’Laughlin about the human condition as told through the eyes of a rabbit named Bill.

This is an enormous, ground-breaking day for the Australian screen industry, and represents a massive step in the right direction towards creating an industry that truly represents all Australians, and the stories that resonate with everyone, not just a select percentage.
Today’s recipients will all share in a total of $3million worth of funding dollars to help their various projects move to the next stage of development.
You can read all the vital info about the slate of projects commissioned today, as well as the Gender Matters initiative as a whole, by visiting the Screen Australia hub.

Source: Screen Australia.
Photo: Supplied.