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I was at the Melbourne International Film Festival’s 37 South Financing Market last week when Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia and former NZFC CEO, launched the final two parts of their $5 million Gender Matters plan—a $1 million incentive for distributors to look at and consider quality female-driven projects from the outset, and a fund for placements for women on scripted drama projects that have funding from Screen Australia
Two days later, the Australian Directors Guild held a discussion titled ‘Talking Pictures – Breaking the Celluloid Ceiling’, offering an opportunity to meet the women who challenge the notion that men dominate creative leadership in Australian feature film. The panel brought directors Gillian Armstrong, Jocelyn Moorhouse, Sue Brooks, Kitty Green and Sophie Hyde together to talk about navigating the highs and lows of being a female director in the Australian film industry. I was unfortunately unable to attend this but I did hear some opinions after, including a call for Screen Australia dollar spend to be split 50/50 between men and women.
Here in New Zealand at the guild we held two key discussions together with WIFT to look at gender issues in film and TV. From what we learned DEGNZ developed, got funded and launched the Women Filmmakers Incubator, which will start in September. Through five workshops across a 10-month period, the Incubator provides the opportunity for 10 emerging women filmmakers to develop their knowledge, skils and networks to help further their projects and careers.
To help address the gender imbalance in film, the New Zealand Film Commission launched the JC Cinefem Scholarship in 2015, awarded to cinematographer Maria Innes Manchego. Then in 2016, they announced the Gaylene Preston Directors’ Award, a $50,000 grant fund for one or more women filmmakers to advance their practice.
Behind the scenes at NZFC and in other screen organisations, and outside wherever their funding flows to, there is an expectation that there will be gender equity as much as possible in all things.
The above are baby steps that are seeking to address the systematic discrimination against women and their stories in film and television that has been going on for decades. We need to do more, and at DEGNZ we will continue to look for opportunities to do so.
In the meantime, Guys, get used to the idea that for the foreseeable future you are only going to be able to get a bite at 50 per cent of the pie—a situation for many that is long overdue.