Screen Australia To Boost Female-Led Projects With 'Gender Matters' Initiative

Screen Australia has introduced a five-prong funding initiative entitled "Gender Matters", which it hopes will have a positive effect on the number of women in behind-the-camera creative roles.

There are those in the Australian film industry who probably didn't need a statistics report to tell them things were a bit unbalanced. But the stats are there, and Screen Australia is acting on them with a range of programs that should not only encourage creative women to apply, but also mean more women will find their way into leadership positions.

Here's the lowdown:

As for recent projects which have been funded, here are the proportions of teams with at least 50 per cent women on the team:

If we're aiming for numerical perfection, each of those bars should be at 100 per cent, which would mean all projects have a 50/50 split. But the key area of concern is film, in which only 29 per cent of teams are at least 50 per cent female.

To that end, a total of $5 million will be targetting women-led projects — $3 million to get them production-ready within two years, and a further $2 million of support for placements, distribution incentives, marketing and industry networking.

The initiative is composed of five points:

The Women’s Story Fund – an initiative to stimulate awareness and increase industry activity around storytelling by women, focusing on bold, original and compelling fully-formed story concepts.   Enterprise Women – business support to create industry infrastructure around women, encouraging mentorship schemes, placements, slate development, workshops, events and proposals for strategy and business development.   Attachments for Women – in circumstances where Screen Australia invests more than $500,000 in a project, attachments or reverse attachments are proposed to provide valuable production experience for women who want to break into the industry as creatives or crew.   Matched Distribution Guarantee Support of up to $300,000, to enhance the distribution and marketing of quality Australian films with significant female content, encouraging close partnership with distributors on female-driven projects.   Assessment criteria changes – to be made across Screen Australia, aimed at encouraging projects that promote gender and cultural diversity and removing the barriers faced by women who take time out of the workforce, including added consideration of Gender and Cultural Diversity in overall slate assessment.

For approved projects, any funds committed by a distributor towards marketing can be matched by Screen Australia, up to $300,000.

While the funding will be heading to many different aspects of development, production, and marketing, point one will hopefully target that 29 per cent figure in the film category. Allocations of at least $100,000 per film project will be made.

Point 5 seems a little vague, but that section of the initiative is targetting the selection criteria for all of Screen Australia's projects, encouraging the entire organisation to "promote gender and cultural diversity and removing the barriers faced by women who take time out of the workforce".

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