TV drama backed by Screen NSW must now include female key creatives

25 July, 2016 by Staff Writer

Courtney Gibson.


Screen NSW has stepped up its push for gender equity, announcing that all TV drama series must now include female key creatives in order to receive development or production finance.

CEO Courtney Gibson said Screen NSW had worked closely with industry to identify the best ways to achieve systemic change.

"Production companies, broadcasters and other screen organisations have been incredibly supportive and we’re starting to see real impact as a result,” she said.

“But in order to move the needle even further, going forward, it will be a requirement for any television drama series to include female writers and/or directors and/or producers to secure development or production finance from us.

“If we are to achieve gender parity in our industry, we need to ensure there is equity of opportunity for women, and increased opportunities for people from other under-represented groups in the community.”

Gibson said that Screen NSW had also taken the decision that it will not sponsor, support or participate in any initiative, event, conference, market or festival which include all-male panels and don't foster female participation and diversity more broadly.

"Sad to say, even with all the work and discussion around gender and diversity, you still see all-male panels at events in our industry – in 2016! If event organisers and screen industry organisations are to obtain financial support from Screen NSW they will need to guarantee participation by women and other under-represented groups," Gibson said.

The agency has also announced a raft of new initiatives for female writers, directors and producers, pairing them with NSW production companies and on international productions shooting in Australia.

Amazons@GiantDwarf is a partnership between Screen NSW and the the team from The Chaser to train and crew up an all-female live TV studio floor crew for events at the Giant Dwarf Theatre in Sydney.  Giant Dwarf will work with Western Sydney-based ICE (Information & Cultural Exchange) to ensure roles for women from Western Sydney.

Also announced today: Northern Rivers-based Tatiana Valesco will receive a Screen NSW grant to support her in a director’s attachment on feature Thor: Ragnarok, working with director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople).

Actress Sacha Horler will undertake an internship at Goalpost Pictures Australia (The Sapphires, Cleverman), working with leading female producers Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne.

Horler said:  “It's wonderful being in this industry, because I wake up every morning knowing there are kick-arse women knocking down walls every day. I want to work with them. Now I am. I'm very excited to learn from Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne at Goalpost. Lucky me!”

These initiatives are the latest in a suite of strategic interventions in the screen sector, following Screen NSW committing to a gender target of 50:50 by 2020 in November of last year.

Among Screen NSW’s recently funded attachments are two emerging writers, Cate Stewart and Helen Dallimore, on Here Come The Habibs 2.

Dallimore wrote a full episode of the second season and Stewart has stayed with production company Jungle in a paid position on season 2 of No Activity for Stan.

Nina Oyama has also finished an internship in the writer’s room on The Chaser’s Election Desk and Penny Greenhalgh’s internship in The Checkout writers’ room has led to a role in the writer’s room of a new series with Ambience Entertainment.

Jed Malone used her medical degree when interning as a director’s attachment on the first series of Nine's upcoming Doctor Doctor.  Essential Media kept Malone on the team as medical adviser on the show and she was then invited to join the writers’ room for the final two episodes.

Screen NSW has also supported Trackdown in employing graduate audio engineer Rose Mackenzie Peterson in a full-time position, and is supporting Northern Rivers Screenworks’ new Athena Project, which aims to fund career development opportunities for four regional NSW women working in the screen industry.

“The purpose [of the Athena Project] is to place women in meaningful internships that lead to real jobs and screen credits and thereby populate the industry with more women,” said Gibson.

Screen NSW also brought together the partners on She Shoots, an initiative of AFTRS, Screen NSW, Women NSW and Executive Women’s Television Group, to provide training and opportunities for female camera operators and sound recordists on reality TV productions.  

Screen NSW paid travel and accommodation costs for three regional women to attend the initial training course, held at AFTRS.