The TV, film and TVC production house formerly known as Jungleboys is making several emphatic affirmative action moves.
Symbolically, the company’s title is now the gender neutral Jungle, reflecting the fact that 50% of the full-time staff is female.
The rechristening co-incides with three initiatives: the promotion of Chloe Rickard to partner and head of film and TV production; the launch of a female creative talent program in collaboration with Screen NSW; and a commitment to employ at least one female in writing, directing or producing on every project.
“The name Jungle is more representative of who we are now, and with our film and TV business incorporating in the US, we should, at the very least, try to pretend to be grown-ups,” said MD Jason Burrows.
One of the first hires at the company nine years ago, Rickard joins the co-founders Burrows, Trent O’Donnell and Phil Lloyd as partners. She said: "The current industry statistics do not match the female talent on offer, and it’s great to be part of rectifying that inequality.”
Monikered Operation Sheena, the initiative co-funded by Screen NSW will see two females hired for 10 weeks, one as a writer-in-residence, the other as a director’s attachment working across the film, TV and TVC slate.
The firm has someone in mind for the director’s placement, which will start early next year and, it is hoped, will lead to the hiring of its first female TVC director.
Executive producer of TVCs Nick Simkins said, "The lack of female directors on our roster bothers us so we’re putting systems in place that ultimately lead to the nurturing and elevation of female directors. This name change, and Operation Sheena, reflects our growth and our company ethos.”
Concurrently Julia Corcoran is being promoted to a full-time position in the film and TV arm, supported by a three year producer mentor program under Rickard.
Julia joins Faddia Aboud, who is half way through a 20-week director’s attachment on the Nine Network’s Muslin comedy Here Come the Habibs!, supported by Screen Australia.
Jungle’s push for greater female representation follows the ADG’s call on Screen Australia to allocate 50 per cent of production funding for features to women.
Today Screen NSW announced it aims to achieve an average 50/50 gender equity in its development and production funding programs by 2020, starting now.
Females are front-and-centre in Jungle’s film development slate. Linda Miscko will produce Death is for the Living, the saga of a terminally ill woman whose psychotherapist gives her a way to live her future in her subconscious, but he starts to write himself into her ‘dream’ future. Kirsty Fisher and Marieke Hardy are writing the screenplay and O’Donnell will direct.
Joan Sauers (script editor on SBS’s The Principal and script adviser on The Babadook) is adapting The Murderous Urges of Ordinary Women, a novel by US author Lois Meltzer which chronicles the comic adventures of four old friends who take up vengeance as their mid-life hobby.
Meanwhile Rickard says a US format deal for No Activity, the improvised comedy for Stan, is in discussion following interest from several parties.