Sara Gajic.

Fulcrum Media Finance business affairs executive and WIFT NSW vice-president Sara Gajic has been nominated for NSW Young Woman of the Year.

The award, to be announced on International Women’s Day, recognises outstanding contribution to industry, community and society.

Speaking to IF, Gajic described her role at Fulcrum as broad, putting together offers for films of budgets both big and small, as a well as some legal work to drive films to close.

“I actually find the business side of film really exciting. It’s really stressful but in a good way; it’s challenging and no one project is the same. It’s a constant learning experience and you never get bored,” she said.

Gajic stumbled into the film industry by chance. She graduated from Macquarie Uni with a Bachelor of Psychology and Bachelor of Laws and went on to get a Masters of Laws from the University of Sydney, but never wanted to be a “conventional lawyer”.

A passionate animal advocate, Gajic got her start in animal law and ended up working in the same building as See Saw Films and Fulcrum. Some part-time work for Fulcrum eventually led to a more permanent position.

“I always saw film as this foreign Hollywood concept. It was literally just by luck that I scored a job in Australia in the film industry,” she said.

The same passion for advocacy that informed Gajic’s work in animal protection continues via WIFT NSW. In her time there, she’s established a mentorship program and a film club designed to boost box office numbers for female-driven stories.

Gajic sees the current conversation surrounding gender imbalance in the industry as an opportunity to help bolster careers.

“My opinion is that one of the problems is that women might not necessarily put their hands up or go and pitch, or apply for funding, because they might feel that they’re underqualified or that they don’t have enough experience,” she said.

“I think that the best way to address that is to give an opportunity for either work or mentorship, provide editing facilities at competitive rates or offer regular training programs and seminars. That sort of thing is, at the moment, really useful and I would like to see [it] continue.”

The mentorship program that Gajic runs through WIFT, the Big Screen Sister Scheme, is inspired by Rebecca Hardman from See Saw Films and Sharon Menzies, her boss at Fulcrum.

“The two of them are just incredible, fierce professional women, and I felt I was really lucky to them to guide me,” she said.

While many mentorship programs pair an emerging professional with a head of department, or production, distribution or financing company, Gajic said her initiative aims to connect women breaking into the industry with those only a few steps ahead.

“If you can pair emerging professionals with people who are maybe two or three steps ahead of them, then it’s a way of connecting them with someone in the industry that can give them a leg up and it makes progress just seem a little bit more attainable,” she said.

While the program has only had one round so far, it’s already led to jobs. Gajic said one of the best stories to come out of it was a woman who scored a position in a LA writers room.

“Until that point she hadn’t really had a job as a writer but she wanted to. The pairing just ended up working out really well and her ‘big sister’ scored her a job overseas. I was so happy to see that.”

Voting for the NSW 2017 Women of Year Awards closes Sunday February 26.

Winners will be announced at a breakfast ceremony on March 8, International Women’s Day.

Join the Conversation

3 Comments

  1. The WIFT Mentor Scheme was established over 20 years ago, and has been championed by the likes of Harriet McKern, Sally Corbet and especially Ana Tiwary, who did an amazing job for many years.

    It has previously been funded by Screen NSW and Screen Australia (although there has been no funding for several years).

    So the WIFT Mentor Scheme was not “established” by Sara at all.

    Sara and the new WIFT committee may have re-branded it “Big Sister” – but what does that say really ?

    … that women can only get support and learn from other women ?
    … at the expense of possibly working with experienced men ?
    … that an older woman cannot get a mentorship if she is older than her more experienced and younger mentor ? thus ruling out women re-entering the workforce after time out for family.

    The “big sister” label implies that all the mentees are “little sisters”.

    We are in a professional industry, not the playground.

    It’s pretty condescending to emerging professional women who don’t perceive themselves as little girls.

    … please !!

    Time for WIFT to start treating women in the screen industries like professional adults.

    But what can one expect when the WIFT executive roll around on the floor chanting male genitalia …

    Would you want one of this lot in your space representing you in front of your clients ?

    Speaking as a woman – I sure as hell wouldn’t !

  2. There are online records of Screen Australia providing funding for the WIFT Mentor Scheme that date as far back back to 1994-95, and other documentation shows the WIFT mentor program dates back to WIFT’s inception in 1982

    http://afcarchive.screenaustralia.gov.au/archive/annrep/ar94_95/9_icd.html

    The WIFT Mentor Scheme, which primarily focused on screen craft, ran almost uninterrupted since then and continued even during the years when there was no funding thanks to the gracious efforts of WIFT Committee volunteers. It was also supported via the Guilds and various other Companies, as well as numerous Mentors who gave considerable amounts of time, uncompensated.

    When Tania Chambers headed Screen NSW, she was a passionate supporter of the scheme, and supported WIFT’s launch of the Media Mentorship for Business, which Ana Tiwary helmed (alongside managing the craft mentorships)

    Funding applications for funding of the WIFT Mentor Scheme were presented as part of last year’s Gender Matters and also to Screen NSW.

    Neither organisation chose to provide support.

    The 2016-2017 WIFT president was ready to abandon the WIFT Mentor Scheme altogether.

    While Sara certainly did NOT establish the WIFT Mentor Scheme, kudos to Sara for volunteering to coordinate and manage the scheme this year.

    Care needs to be taken in managing these programs so that they don’t exclude women in mid-career, otherwise there will continue to be a shortage of women who are experienced senior screen professionals – who are themselves approached to be mentors to future younger generations of filmmakers.

    Below are a few more links which show the WIFT Mentor Scheme has a long and proud history

    https://www.facebook.com/artsqueenslandAQ/posts/10203188419771995

    https://www.facebook.com/MMWprogram?fref=nf

    https://www.theloop.com.au/mentorship/overview

    https://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=76087

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *