Screen Australia sees lift in female creatives

Fadia Abboud, Niki Aken and Erica Glynn

Screen Australia has reported an increase in females as screen creatives in funded film and television projects.

Three years ago under its Gender Matters initiative, Screen Australia set a KPI target of all production funding projects having at least half of the key creative roles occupied by women.

Today it reports a 56% result, with a particular rise amongst female producers, with more work to be done for parity amongst writers and directors.

“Over three years ago we set out with the objective of better utilising the talents of Australia’s female screen creatives. Today’s results are an incredible milestone for both Screen Australia and the industry,” said producer Joanna Werner, Screen Australia Board member, chair of the Gender Matters Taskforce. “This is by no means the finish line to achieving gender parity, particularly in writer and director roles, but today we celebrate that systemic change in our sector is well underway.”

The KPI considered the key creative roles of writer, director, producer, and in the case of narrative content (drama), the protagonist. The results for 2018/19 show an increase in female participation across features, documentary and online, whilst television “remained high.”

“I’m particularly pleased to see year-on-year growth in the amount of feature films that met the Gender Matters KPI. There is a substantial slate of female-directed Australian films due for release including Angel of Mine, Ride Like a Girl, The Nightingale, Babyteeth, Judy and Punch, Animals, and Relic, so it’s essential we vote with our wallets and go to see these films in the cinema to support this wave of talent,” noted Werner.

Screen Australia Head of Development, Nerida Moore said, “Gender Matters fundamentally changed the way we make funding decisions at Screen Australia. It put consideration of what stories are being told and who is telling them at the centre of our decision making. The initiative has had a profound impact on our staff, and has primed us to be able to champion inclusivity more broadly.”

Screenwriter Elise McCredie noted, “Visibility and support for female filmmakers, through initiatives like Gender Matters, has been absolutely fantastic. Stateless which I’m currently showrunning, has predominantly female Heads of Departments. In the past couple of years I believe there’s been much greater awareness of gender equity in both crewing and the composition of writers’ rooms.”

Director of feature film, Judy and Punch, Mirrah Foulkes added, “I really feel a great change in terms of the amount of emerging female directors out there. I feel like there’s a whole swathe of people alongside me, ahead of me, behind me and that feels exciting.”

Screen Australia now plans to have 50% target in key creatives across all projects that receive both development and production funding to be women, across a three-year-average, and will not include the role of protagonist.

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