Screen Australia Funds $3 Million Female-Led Film And TV Revolution

It's the most projects ever bankrolled in one day.

12/07/2016 9:21 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:57 PM AEST
Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy
Kate Winslet stars in female-led Australian film The Dressmaker.

Few people watch the credits, but look and you'll see there are no more female names today than 30 years ago.

Screen Australia is sparking a historic shift in the industry, today announcing the most film, TV and multimedia projects ever funded in a single day -– and they're all led by women.

Tuesday's $3 million announcement for 45 story ideas, 13 industry projects and a series of career mentoring initiatives is the start of program Gender Matters: Brilliant Stories and Brilliant Careers with the target of seeing 50 percent female creative teams by the end of 2018.

Screen Australia / Anthony Calvert

Chief operating officer Fiona Cameron told The Huffington Post Australia Screen Australia couldn't stand idle anymore.

"I believe feminism is a responsibility and not a label," Cameron told HuffPost Australia.

"It's the responsibility of everyone in a leadership position.

"Screen Australia has been watching the numbers of female directors, writers and producers barely change for 20 or 30 years and it's our time to do something about it."

Of the projects funded today, there are big names like actor, director and producer Claudia Karvan but there are also 20 percent completely unknown women who have never had a credit before.

"As a government department with declining resources, that's a bit scary for us," Cameron said.

"In film, once you have one credit, it's much easier to get a second, but in a male-dominated industry, there's a whole pool of talent that's being ignored."

The Dressmaker / Fairfax Media
Hugo Weaving and Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker.

The Dressmaker producer Sue Maslin knows how important these first grants are, as her big break in the industry actually came from a women's film grant.

"I'll never forget, it was $3456 to make my first film, and it was the most exciting day of my life.

"In the late 70s early 80s there was in interest in feminism in film and there were specific programs to support that but by the 90s, there was a sense they'd done their job and that women were starting to migrate to those senior roles but they hadn't.

They'd say 'great story Sue, but it's very female focused'.

"In my 30 years, the numbers of female directors have remained pretty much the same and when you look at the people in a room to greenlight a film or a TV show, they're overwhelmingly male."

When she was pitching box office hit The Dressmaker, she came up against resistance from mostly male greenlighters.

"The film took over $20 million at the box office, and has now sold over 200,000 DVDs, yet when I first pitched it, I was led to believe the fact that it would be huge for female audiences would be limiting," Maslin told HuffPost Australia.

"They'd say 'great story Sue, but it's very female focused', as if it was a negative."

This slew of funding will result in stories being told int he short term, but will also aim to create a situation where the people Maslin and co are pitching to are half female.

Getty Images
Claudia Karvan will work with writer Elise McCredie.

Claudia Karvan, who is producing one of the stories that was funded told HuffPost Australia there were talented women ready to nurture the next generation of filmmakers.

"We all go through our own lives from a subjective point of view and I look around and the industry looks incredibly healthy," Carvan said.

"I seek out other women to work with and it creates a very rich environment.

"This is a galvanising force that I feel has set all these women's imaginations free."

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