The Australian Directors Guild has set gender and diversity targets for the emerging directors who are selected for the Screen Australia/ADG director’s attachment scheme.
The guild has committed to have women fill 50 per cent of the attachments and for 75 per cent of the attachments to reflect both gender and cultural diversity.
This is consistent with the ADG’s pitch to Screen Australia, as reported in Fairfax Media, to move towards hiring female directors for 50 per cent of the films funded by the agency.
In another development, the ADG has replaced the MEAA as the union to be consulted by the Immigration Minister when producers apply for 420 visas for foreign directors for TVCs, music videos, documentaries, feature films and TV dramas.
After the guild was registered under the Fair Work Act earlier this year, ADG CEO Kingston Anderson wrote to the Immigration Minister and department and the MEAA to claim its right as the “relevant union” for screen directors.
This week the department affirmed that position, meaning producers who wish to bring in a non-Australian director must apply to the ADG for a non-objection letter to support their application for a 420 visa.
This can be done by going to the ADG website's resources section where the process is set out for producers.
“We had been consulted by the MEAA for some time on directors coming into the country and it became clear that once we were registered we would be the relevant union as stated in the act,” Anderson said.
Anderson tells IF the ADG had long been concerned about the number of foreign directors hired for TVCs. He has no concerns about Coca-Cola bringing in a director for an international TVC, for example, but he challenges the hiring of foreign directors for home hardware commercials.
Foreign directors working in Australian without 420 visas risk fines of up to $66,000 per offence for companies and two years’ imprisonment for individuals.
He said the ADG would object to applications where there is no net employment benefit as prescribed by the act. There are no issues with approving international directors such as Ridley Scott, who is reportedly keen to shoot Alien: Paradise Lost in Australia next year.
The ADG’s commitment to 50 per cent female representation with the director’s attachment scheme started with Beth Armstrong, who is working with Mel Gibson on Hacksaw Ridge.
The proposal for Screen Australia to work towards an even gender split for features originated from the ADG’s affirmative action sub-committee whose members include Gillian Armstrong and Megan Simpson Huberman.
“We know that is a bold target but we think we should start the discussion with that,” Anderson said.
Separately, the ADG is looking to increase the number of attachments each year by securing funding from state screen agencies and from private sources.
Screen Queensland has agreed to fund two attachments on projects yet to be determined. Anderson would like to have 10-12 attachments each year, including seven through the Screen Australia/ADG scheme.
The Guild is also looking at the potential to expand the latter scheme to documentaries and interactive productions.