Given the #MeToo movement and initiatives such as Screen Australia’s Gender Matters, it is astounding that female directors in Australia are still subject to workplace bullying and intimidation.
No one is more surprised by this recurring behaviour than Australian Directors’ Guild president Samantha Lang and the organisation’s CEO Kingston Anderson.
The Guild continues to receive complaints of bullying from female directors and in one case, two from the same person about the same production company a year apart.
“This concerns us a great deal,” says Anderson, who takes up these complaints with the relevant production companies. “Harassment continues because the same management are still in their jobs and directors feel intimidated.”
Lang tells IF: “It is surprising that the Guild is still getting calls from directors who are in extremely difficult situations. They need advice and support. The ADG aims to provide as much support as it can for all our members.”
Distressingly, Anderson knows of one director who refused to lodge a complaint, fearing that if she did she would never work again in the screen industry. The Guild also received a complaint from one male director.
The ADG is hopeful the new Screen Industry Code to prevent workplace discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying will drive cultural change.
Developed by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Screen Producers Australia and Live Performance Australia (LPA), the code will come into effect on September 3.
Each production will have designated people to whom complaints can be referred and there will be education campaigns and industry training.
When the new code was announced last week SPA CEO Matt Deaner said: “Everyone has the right to a safe workplace. The Screen Industry Code will provide producers with practical tools to create a safe and positive work environment for all workers in our industry. We are united and committed to this cause.”
LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson said: “It’s important for our industry to have consistent standards and practices that provide safe and respectful workplaces for all our workers. While many of our members already have policies and procedures in place, we see a vital role for providing an industry code and tools that can be implemented by companies irrespective of company size, capability or resources.”
While Anderson fully supports the new protocols he worries about directors who are employed by the smaller production companies and are bullied by executives, asking, “How do they lodge a complaint?”
This follows the code of conduct to assist the prevention of sexual harassment which Screen Australia has applied to all productions approved since April 2. Failure to comply with the code will be considered a serious contract breach and would threaten the producer’s ability to secure Screen Australia funding.