Screen NSW steps up gender parity push
Screen NSW is stepping up its push for gender equity in the screen sector, announcing a requirement that all TV drama series must now include female key creatives on their team in order to receive development or production finance. The agency also announced a raft of new initiatives for women in writer, director and producer roles with top NSW production companies and on big budget international productions shooting in Australia.
Amazons@GiantDwarf is a partnership between Screen NSW and the company behind The Chaser to train and crew up an all-female live TV studio floor crew for events at the Giant Dwarf Theatre in Sydney. Giant Dwarf will work with Western Sydney-based ICE (Information & Cultural Exchange) to ensure roles for women from Western Sydney.
Also announced today, Northern Rivers-based Tatiana Valesco will receive a Screen NSW grant to support her in a director’s attachment on the big budget feature Thor: Ragnarok, working with director Taika Waititi.
Acclaimed actress Sacha Horler will progress her career ambitions to produce with an internship at Goalpost Pictures Australia (The Sapphires, Cleverman), working with leading female producers Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne.
These initiatives are the latest in a suite of strategic interventions in male-dominated roles in the screen sector following Screen NSW committing to a gender target of 50:50 by 2020 in November last year.
Recent funded attachments include two emerging female writers Cate Stewart and Helen Dallimore on the writing team for Here Come The Habibs 2. Helen’s internship led her to write a full episode of the second season of the hit show and Cate has stayed with production company Jungle in a paid position on season 2 of No Activity for Stan.
Nina Oyama recently finished an internship in the writer’s room on The Chaser’s Election Desk while Penny Greenhalgh emerged from an internship in The Checkout writers’ room with Giant Dwarf, to step into a role in the writer’s room of a new series with Ambience Entertainment.
Screen NSW also supported Trackdown Studios to employ graduate female audio engineer Rose Mackenzie Peterson in a full-time position, and is supporting Northern Rivers Screenworks’ new Athena Project to fund career development opportunities for four regional NSW women working in the screen industry.
“The purpose is to place women in meaningful internships that lead to real jobs and screen credits and thereby populate the industry with more women,” said Screen NSW CEO, Courtney Gibson.
Sacha Horler said: “It's wonderful being in this industry, because I wake up every morning knowing there are kick-arse women knocking down walls every day. I want to work with them. Now I am. I very excited to learn from Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne at Goalpost. Lucky me!”
While Sacha Horler will migrate the skills she has developed as one of the country’s most accomplished actors, Jed Malone used her medical degree to great advantage when interning as a director’s attachment on the first series of Nine's upcoming Doctor Doctor. Essential Media kept Jed on the team as medical adviser on the show and she was then invited to join the writers’ room for the final two episodes.
Screen NSW also brought together the partners on She Shoots, an initiative of AFTRS, Screen NSW, Women NSW and Executive Women’s Television Group, a group of NSW-based senior women from Australian production companies and broadcasters, to provide training and on the job opportunities for camera operators and sound recordists on reality TV productions. Screen NSW paid travel and accommodation costs for three regional women to attend the initial training course, held at AFTRS.
“Screen NSW has worked closely with industry to identify the best ways to achieve systemic change. Production companies, broadcasters and other screen organisations have been incredibly supportive and we’re starting to see real impact as a result,” Ms Gibson said.
“But in order to move the needle even further, going forward, it will be a requirement for any television drama series to include female writers and/or directors and/or producers to secure development or production finance from us.
“If we are to achieve gender parity in our industry, we need to ensure there is equity of opportunity for women, and increased opportunities for people from other under-represented groups in the community.”
Ms Gibson said that Screen NSW has also taken the decision that it will not sponsor, support or participate in any initiative, event, conference, market or festival which include all-male panels and don't foster female participation and diversity more broadly.
"Sad to say, even with all the work and discussion around gender and diversity, you still see all-male panels at events in our industry - in 2016! If event organisers and screen industry organisations are to obtain financial support from Screen NSW they will need to guarantee participation by women and other under-represented groups."
See full media release below.