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