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A total of 58 female-led projects have received nearly $2.7 million (AUS$3.5 million) in financing from government funding agency Screen Australia as part of its new “Gender Matters” program.
The projects include Rachel Griffiths’ debut as a feature director, Ride Like a Girl, telling the story of Michelle Payne, Australia’s first female Melbourne Cup winning jockey; a new period TV drama from Rachel Ward and FremantleMedia Australia called Propinquity; thriller Runaway from writer Mirrah Foulkes and executive producers Jane Campion and Jan Chapman; and Girls In Hotels, which reveals the last 24 hours in the life of one woman, from Gracie Otto and Jessica Carrera, who have partnered with Rose Byrne in production company Dollhouse Pictures.
Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said: “We need to make meaningful change that will create new opportunities for women in this industry…. We felt we needed to do everything we could to support the outstanding female talent in this country. We want to flood the pipeline and create new opportunities for women both emerging and established. Courage, imagination and vision are needed in driving the change to address gender imbalance in the industry. We at Screen Australia are up for the challenge, and we think you are too.”
According to Screen Australia statistics, women working in feature films in Australia make up just 16 percent of directors, 31 percent of producers and 23 percent of practicing writers.
With the Gender Matters $5 million five-point plan, the agency is aiming to ensure that its production funding is targeted to creative teams that are at least 50 percent female by the end of 2018.
The agency received a record-breaking 452 applications for Brilliant Stories (projects) and Brilliant Careers (business funding), the most applications ever received for a Screen Australia funding program.
“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 COO Fiona Cameron.
In addition to projects from high-profile filmmakers, Gender Matters will provide financing for film, TV and online projects from new writers and directors, as well as mentoring and work placement programs. The successful Brilliant Stories teams include 27 new directors and 46 new writers, fast-tracking their careers and forgoing the need for a production credit to access SA funding.
Leading TV producer Imogen Banks, for example, will run a mentoring program, Smart for a Girl: Roar, which will take 12 new female writers through the process of developing a TV series, working on four different concepts from start to finish, brainstorming and plotting the ideas, and taking them from a first draft to a network pitch. “I’m absolutely hopeful that at the end of it we’ll have a few brand-new shows ready to go,” Banks said.
The projects, covering all genres across feature films, television and online, are in various stages of development and production.
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