18 new TV projects funded in push to balance gender behind camera


Screen Australia has announced 45 new screen projects, including 18 TV and 11 Online projects, as part of its Gender Matters initiative.

TV projects approved include new projects including from Diana Glenn, Kat Stewart, Jane Harber, writers Elise McCredie, producers Claudia Karvan, Joanna Werner, Jo Porter, Liz Watts, Sue Maslin, Andrea Denholm, directors Daina Reid, Rachel Ward, Mirrah Foulkes and mentorship under Imogen Banks, Erin White, Alice Bell and Tracey Mair.

Screen Australia received a record-breaking 452 applications for its Brilliant Stories (333) and Brilliant Careers (119) initiatives, the most applications ever received for a funding program.

The $5 million Gender Matters program is targeted to creative teams that are at least 50% female by the end of 2018. It was announced in December 2015 as a direct response to the identified gender imbalance in lead creative roles across the screen sector. The disparity is most notable in traditional film with just 32% of women working as producers, 23% as writers and only 16% as directors.

“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,” said Screen Australia Chief Operating Officer, Fiona Cameron.

Gender Matters Task Force Chair Deanne Weir added, “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 Brilliant Stories slate includes 45 original, ambitious and compelling concepts across television (16), online (11) and feature film (18).

Television concepts include Sex in the West, the story of three mixed-faith friends living in Western Sydney and I Am Woman — the life of one of the mothers of modern feminism. Diana Glenn and Offspring’s Kat Stewart and Jane Harber move behind the camera into first-time writing roles with The Elementals, penning the tale of a group of washed-up superheroes in a share house. Public Relations is a comedy set in a PR firm that puts our culture of spin in the spotlight, while Sixteen is a sci-fi tale of sixteen girls who disappear on a three night hike. Writer Elise McCredie is also set to pen crime drama Overflow with Claudia Karvan on board as producer.

The online slate includes Skitbox, the brains behind viral hit Activewear, teaming up with online sensation SketchShe to create Manifest, three female creatives adjusting to life without chai lattes in a post- apocalyptic creative slum. Triple Oh! follows the antics of a mismatched pair of ambulance paramedics, while Funny Rabbit is a dark satire created by one-woman producer / writer / director Biddy O’Loughlin, told through the eyes of a rabbit named Bill. In Sheilas, two sisters dramatically explore the forgotten and most ‘badass’ women in Australia, and Good Grief is a funny and touching series on the inevitability and inconvenience of grief and mourning.



New Faces: The successful Brilliant Stories teams include 27 new directors and 46 new writers (including those extending their careers into new genres and platforms), fast-tracking their careers whilst still allowing them to learn from experienced practitioners.

Brilliant Careers is about creating business and industry infrastructure around women that is ongoing, and covers various business initiatives from networking to new VOD platforms.

Networking applicant Northern Rivers Screenworks will run The Athena Project, a program that will provide writers and directors from regional areas around Australia with industry forums, while Bunya Engendered will see women from diverse backgrounds develop their stories within a writers lab and have access to ongoing networking and mentorship support.

Mentorship and training applicant and renowned producer Imogen Banks (Offspring) and writer Alice Bell (Puberty Blues, The Beautiful Lie), will address the lack of new female voices coming into the TV industry by taking 12 uncredited female writers through the process of developing a series with Smart for a Girl – ROAR.

Another successful application is The Causeway Forward, from the production company behind Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook and upcoming The Nightingale, who will aim to use development funds to identify, nurture and promote stories by women.

Directors including Gillian Armstrong, Samantha Lang and Sherpa’s Jennifer Peedom are just some of the representatives from Australian Directors Guild attachment proposal with Gender Careers for Screen Practitioners – a two-year plan to place female directors in the feature film and television space. It will not only seek to change the shocking lack of female directors (16% in feature film in 2014), but will give them the credits they need to progress into more opportunities.

Mamamia.com.au will soon be moving into narrative storytelling as well as providing a distribution avenue for a Screen Australia-supported web series for its female audience base with Mamamia: Love | Laugh | Learn. The business development concept already has Starting From Now’s director Julie Kalceff and story producer Rosie Lourde attached.

Screen Australia is currently working with state screen agencies to schedule networking events for all Brilliant Stories and Brilliant Careers applicants (regardless of whether their application was successful). The first event is with Screen Queensland’s IncubatHER initiative on 21 July, with more details to follow.

The final two stages of Gender Matters — Better Deals (a pilot program to enhance the distribution and marketing of Australian films with significant female content) and Attachments for Women (a program that requires female attachments to projects when Screen Australia invests more than $500,000) — will be announced later this year.


8 x 30 min
Snap Pants Productions
Genre Action adventure, Comedy
Producers Diana Glenn, Katherine Stewart, Jane Harber, Andrew Walker
Director Sian Davies
Writers Diana Glenn, Katherine Stewart, Jane Harber
Synopsis Three washed up, co-dependent ex superheroes living in a share house wrestle with their responsibilities to save the planet and their desire to do very little. Things heat up with the emergence of a new uber villain and news that they are about to lose their government superhero payouts.

6 x 1 hr
Film Art Media
Genre Drama
Producer Charlotte Seymour
Executive Producer Sue Maslin
Writer Jane Allen, Stuart Page
Synopsis The decline of an ageing parent is the catalyst for a complex drama series around love, loss and shifting loyalties and the discovery that sometimes those closest to you are the greatest strangers of all.

2 x 90 min
Werner Film Productions
Genre Drama
Producers Louise Smith, Joanna Werner
Writer Megan Simpson Huberman, Steven McGregor
Synopsis A two part mini-series based on the inspiring true life story of one of Australia’s best-known and most loved female heroes.

13 x 1 hr
Princess Pictures Holdings
Genre Action adventure, Drama, Thriller
Producers Andrea Denholm, Jessica Leslie
Writer Giula Sandler, Courtney Wise
Synopsis Vivica Webb, a 16 year old orphan murder suspect, is offered refuge at The Phoenix Institute for Gifted Teenagers, only to discover that the school is run by a highly evolved supernatural race preparing for a war against humanity.

6 x 1 hr
See Pictures, Bliss Bomb, Jungle FTV
Genre Comedy, Drama
Producers Ester Harding, Radha Mitchell, Chloe Rickard
Directors Alethea Jones, Daina Reid
Writers Liz Doran, Lally Katz, Greg Waters
Synopsis When media commentator Sarah runs to foreign correspondent Jonathan’s New Delhi doorstep, she keeps her reasons secret. A romantic adventure through India’s extremes is not what she expects, but it may turn out to be what she needs.

2 x 2 hr
Ruby Entertainment
Genre Drama
Producers Stephen Luby, Mark Ruse
Director Daina Reid
Writer Alica Gwinner
Synopsis 28-year-old Germaine Greer is at a crossroads. Does she choose marriage, academia and respectability, or instead pursue a burning personal intuition? Her decision leads to the publication of ‘The Female Eunuch’ which cements her place in the history books as a mother of modern feminism.

6 x 30 min
Porchlight Films
Genre Comedy
Producers Tanya Phegan, Sylvia Warmer
Executive Producers Anita Sheehan, Vincent Sheehan, Liz Watts
Writer/Director Kacie Anning
Synopsis A big-hearted comedic underdog sports series where a working class university student forms a jump rope team to protest the repeal of free tertiary education in 1980’s Australia.

6 x 1 hr
Genre Drama, Crime, Mystery
Producer Claudia Karvan
Writer Elise McCredie
Synopsis When 17-year-old, private school boy Albie disappears without a trace, Detective Sophie Krawitz is on a mission to find him, but his social media trail leads her back to her own family and the past she had determined to leave behind forever. Overflow is a dense, action packed, crime drama set against the backdrop of the mysteriously rising Yarra River.

8 x 1 hr
FremantleMedia Australia
Genre Drama
Executive Producer Jo Porter
Director Rachel Ward
Synopsis A period drama set in a boarding house that explores the social, economic, gender and political issues of the late 19th century, through the story of Women’s Suffrage activist, Vida Goldstein.

6 x 30 min
Revlover Films
Genre Comedy
Producer Martha Coleman
Director Sarah Bishop
Writers Claire Phillips, Sarah Bishop, Ainslie Clouston
Synopsis An outrageously funny and biting satirical ensemble comedy set in a PR firm that struggles to keep its clients out of the papers and their d**k pics offline.

6 x 1 hr
Entertainment One Films
Genre Comedy, Drama
Producers Troy Lum, Jude Troy
Executive Producer Fadia Abboud
Writers Fadia Abboud, Lina Kastoumis, Gillian Stein, Amal Awad
Synopsis A sharp, warm and celebratory story of three Arab, Muslim and Christian female friends living in contemporary Western Sydney. Their friendships and loyalties are tested as they balance community and family expectations with their own desires and ambitions.

8 x 30
Carver Films
Genre Comedy, Drama
Producers Anna McLeish, Sarah Shaw
Director Mirrah Foulkes
Writers Mirrah Foulkes, Luke Davies
Synopsis Rose returns from her life overseas to convince her eccentric ageing parents to move into assisted living. As they dig their heels in, she suddenly finds herself parenting them and having to face the dysfunctional family dynamics that bubble to the surface.

10 x 50 min
Madman Production Company
Genre Drama, Science fiction
Producers Nick Batzias, Virginia Whitwell
Director Amy Gebhardt
Writer Veronica Gleeson
Synopsis Sixteen girls disappear on a three-night hike. They return pregnant – carrying a new species.

10 x 1 hr
Cordell Jigsaw Productions
Genre Drama, Romantic comedy
Producer Paul Bennett
Director Jennifer Leacy
Writers Samantha Strauss, Ally Burnham, Paul Bennett
Synopsis A contemporary workplace comedy set against the dramatic highs and lows of the book publishing industry.

12 x 11 min
Spirited Pty Ltd T/Highly Spirited Genre Family
Producer Sophie Byrne
Executive Producer Julia Adams Director Shaun Tan
Writer Lally Katz
Synopsis Two siblings discover a strange world beneath a deceptively ordinary surface: a wise local buffalo; an inch-tall exchange student; a hidden room that leads to other countries; a lost deep sea diver and many other mysteries, all raising questions about what it means to be a family.

8 x 1 hr
Common Language Films
Genre Drama
Producers Julie Kalceff, Rosie Lourde
Writer/Director Julie Kalceff
Synopsis Two women, former school friends, are reunited. While they each appear to have moved on with their lives, there is still one thing holding them back – their unresolved feelings for each other.


Genre Comedy, Drama
Producer Dan Prichard
Director Martha Goddard
Writer Vanessa Bates
Synopsis The journey taken by a family…to make a family, humorously navigating all the agonies and ecstasies of the Great Big Fertility Ride.

Genre Comedy, Drama
Producers Trudy Hellier, Maria Theodorakis
Executive Producers Susie Dee, Nicci Wilks
Writer Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves
Synopsis A mother and daughter’s tumultuous relationship is put to the test in a bid to find love, hope, independence or even a Tinder date, after years of roaming in their caravan in search of greener grass.

Paper Rabbits
Genre Science fiction, Action adventure, Comedy
Producer Debra Liang
Writer/Director Makoto Koji
Synopsis A vivid intergalactic animated anthology following young space-faring women as they overcome, grow and succeed on the vast cosmic stage.

Genre Comedy
Writer/Director/Producer Biddy O’Loughlin
Synopsis A dark comic satire and poignant series about the human condition as told through the eyes of a rabbit named Bill.

Genre Comedy, Drama
Producer Amanda Reedy
Executive Producer Nicole Minchin
Director Amanda Jane
Writers Natalie Harris, Jess Harris
Synopsis A funny and touching series on grief. Whether it’s mourning a loved one, your youth, or last night’s bottle(s) of pinot, grief is inevitable and never convenient.

Genre Comedy
Producer Sarah Bishop
Writer/Director Shae-Lee Shackleford
Synopsis Post-apocalyptic creative slum has become home for three female creatives adjusting to life without chai lattes. A book promising to manifest their desires out of thin air leads them to magical thinking and misconstrued ‘thanking the universe’ when really they are just ‘stealing’. Can love, belief and spirituality hold them afloat in a comedy of delusion, or do fabulous miracles just happen?

Weave Films
Genre Comedy, Drama
Producers Emma Masters, Kristy O’Brien
Director Emma Masters
Writer Lucy McNally
Synopsis Wannabe hotshot journalist, Elle Walker, gets more than she bargains for when she moves from Sydney’s Bondi Beach to a tabloid television newsroom in remote northern Australia.

Giant Dwarf
Genre Comedy
Producer Nikita Agzarian
Executive Producer Julian Morrow
Writers/Directors Eliza Reilly, Hannah Reilly
Synopsis A playful celebration of the forgotten and most badass women in Australian history.

Genre Comedy, Drama
Producer Eva Di Blasio
Director Julietta Boscolo
Writer Louise Woodruff Sanz
Synopsis When the global internet is destroyed, the residents of a sleepy town that technology forgot – Sunshine – find themselves catapulted to the verge of becoming a world power. As they ready themselves for their annual ‘Sunshiny Fair’, the population face a global apocalyptic meltdown, served up alongside a nice slice of award-winning sponge cake.

Genre Comedy, Drama
Producer Poppy Stockell
Director Melvin Montalban, Poppy Stockell
Writer Erica Harrison
Synopsis In the shadow of the night, a comically mismatched pair of Sydney ambulance paramedics working the graveyard shift inadvertently explore life, death – and each other, as Tayls introduces Josh to her policy of ‘life-affirming sex’ to help ‘balance things out’ when a patient dies.

Galvanized Film Group
Genre Comedy
Producers Holly Fraser, Heather Ogilvie Director Erin White
Writer Fiona Gillman
Synopsis When did ‘virgin’ become the new ‘slut’?


Australian Directors Guild (ADG)
Company Directors: Ray Argall, Jonathan Brough, Samantha Lang, Michela Ledwidge, Jennifer Peedom, Nadia Tass, Stephen Wallace, Jeffrey Walker Manager: Kingston Anderson Directors: Gillian Armstrong, Rebecca Barry, Anna Broinowski, Megan Simpson Huberman Summary At its core, the ADG Gender Careers program will identify, introduce and place female directors into the feature film and television space. Run over two years with production and broadcast partners, the program will provide 12 women directors with relevant credits to stimulate real directing opportunities.

Bunya Productions
Producer: Greer Simpkin
Summary Bunya Production’s Engendered program will provide opportunities for emerging and mid-career creatives from diverse backgrounds to develop their stories within a TV writers lab run by a highly experienced international mentor. Engendered will also create ongoing networking and mentorship support.

Causeway Productions
Producers: Kristina Ceyton, Sam Jennings
Summary Causeway Films continues to launch the international careers of some of Australia’s hottest female writers and directors. With Gender Careers support Causeway will consolidate and expand on its success by bringing in another female producer. It will also create a seed development fund with a commitment to identify, nurture and promote more female talent onto its expanding slate of screen projects.

Closer Productions
Company Directors: Sophie Hyde, Rebecca Summerton Producer: Christine Williams
Summary Closer Productions will further support the careers of their existing female principals and offer opportunities for new talent. Committed to identifying and supporting exceptional female voices, Closer’s early development fund will allow the company to nurture identified talent and allow women’s stories to flourish.

Endemol Shine Australia
Producer: Imogen Banks Writer: Alice Bell
Summary ROAR’s premise is simple: take twelve, uncredited, female writers through the process of developing a television series from genesis to network pitch. The renowned producer, Imogen Banks and writer Alice Bell will work to redress the serious problem of no new writers coming into the TV industry and will assist female writers to get their first job.

Company Directors: Margie Brown, Mandy Lake
Summary Following the international success of the 10-part Animal Planet series Snake Sheila/Snake Boss, Queensland factual producer Flickchicks will realise the potential of its existing factual slate and provide career opportunities for two female screenmakers.

The Goodship Agency
Company Directors: Courtney Botfield, Tracey Mair
Summary The Goodship Agency will upscale to employ a brand integration specialist to secure brand partnerships for an expanding slate of film, television and online productions. Brand integration and screen content has huge untapped potential which film distribution and marketing specialists Tracey Mair and Courtney Botfield are well placed to mine.

Hardy White Pictures
Company Directors: Michelle Hardy, Erin White
Summary Michelle Hardy and Erin White will develop the Hardy White Pictures slate of original TV and online projects and develop professionally as business owners while nurturing emerging talent.

Company Director: Alexandra Burke
Summary International Sales Agent, LevelK, offers a 1 year part time internship in Australia that will enable the successful applicant the chance to gain hands on market experience and the skills to further a career in distribution or production.

Creative Director: Mia Freedman Managing Director: Kylie Rogers Editor: Kate de Brito, Head of Podcasts: Holly Wainwright Head of Editorial Strategy and Product: Rebecca Jacobs Head of Sales and Broad Media: Danika Johnston Summary Mamamia is Australia’s largest online distribution platform for news and stories about and for women. This partnership with Screen Australia will enable Mamamia to move into the narrative story space while also providing an avenue for online web series supported by Screen Australia to gain access to audiences and generate revenue.

The Natalie Miller Fellowship
Company Directors: Julia Adams, Jackie Fletcher President: Sue Maslin
Summary The Natalie Miller Foundation has built an impressive brand and reputation promoting female leadership in the screen industry. The Natalie Miller Leadership Program will focus on career advancement and leadership for women from all Australian states and territories as well as formal mentorships with established screen industry professionals.

Northern Rivers Screenworks
Managers: Ken Crouch, Lisa O’Meara
Summary Screenworks will run The Athena Project, a program that will provide writers and directors from regional areas across Australia with the opportunity to participate in a career development forum in Byron Bay designed to impart strategies and information about building a successful career in the screen industries. There will also be ongoing support opportunities for participants that will build networks and create viable and strategic career pathways and plans following the forum.

The Real TV Project
Company Directors: Angela Betzien, Leticia Caceres
Summary RealTV will enable successful theatre director, Leticia Caceres, and playwright, Angela Betzien, to extend their experience, skills and talent onto the screen via exciting long term attachments with Matchbox and Madman.

A reel announcing all Brilliant Stories and Brilliant Careers recipients, plus a selection of high resolution photography will be available from the Screen Australia News Room from 12 July.
• Gender Matters hub
• Gender Matters video series
• Gender Matters: Women in the Australian Screen Industry Report (Dec 2015)

Film projects announced


  1. As an industry professional and veteran of 20 years, I’ve never heard of many of these people working in TV or film – where did they come from? The advertising industry? Publishing ? overseas ? I thought the whole premise was the help ‘women who worked in the industry’ not opening up the industry to take more jobs away from it.

    • As an industry professional you should also be familiar with Screen Aus guidelines, or at least the ability to access them. Projects are selected according to submissions and criteria, which is directed to creative teams. In any case the projects do include many in the industry and the projects will directly lead to more work for both genders. And fostering new talent is a positive, not a negative, regardless of the industry.

  2. A really fantastic example of what happens when a government bureaucracy comes up with an expensive scheme that has no relationship to the market place. You could simply take a one-pager of the TV ideas to the broadcaster and it becomes clear in an instant if they’re at all interested. Most of these ideas are unlikely to create any commercial interest and a load of money is wasted. And a large number of these people are very well established and don’t need this subsidy. It really is WTF stuff.

    • To put the cost of the program in some sort of perspective: it’s roughly equal to a long weekend’s worth of government fuel taxes, or what Ch9 has agreed to pay for ~3 NRL games from 2018, or a one-off hit of less than 50c per household…

      Dig deep down the back of your armchairs, go for a drive, and watch the footy, Australia!

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