Screen Australia exceeds gender targets, launches new plans for 2022

Screen Australia has announced it has exceeded its long-term Gender Matters KPI and appointed new targets for 2022.

The announcement:

In a significant moment for the local screen industry, Screen Australia has exceeded its long-term Gender Matters KPI, with 56% of projects receiving production funding having at least half of the key creative roles occupied by women, based on a three year average. The KPI was set in December 2015, originally aiming for 50%.

“Over three years ago we set out with the objective of better utilising the talents of Australia’s female screen creatives. Today’s results are an incredible milestone for both Screen Australia and the industry,” said Joanna Werner, Screen Australia Board member, chair of the Gender Matters Taskforce and acclaimed producer. “This is by no means the finish line to achieving gender parity, particularly in writer and director roles, but today we celebrate that systemic change in our sector is well underway.”

The KPI considered the key creative roles of writer, director, producer, and in the case of narrative content (drama), the protagonist. The results for 2018/19 show an increase in female participation across features, documentary and online, whilst television remained high.

“I’m particularly pleased to see year-on-year growth in the amount of feature films that met the Gender Matters KPI. There is a substantial slate of female-directed Australian films due for release including Angel of Mine, Ride Like a Girl, The Nightingale, Babyteeth, Judy and Punch, Animals, and Relic, so it’s essential we vote with our wallets and go to see these films in the cinema to support this wave of talent,” noted Werner.

Screen Australia Head of Development, Nerida Moore said, “Gender Matters fundamentally changed the way we make funding decisions at Screen Australia. It put consideration of what stories are being told and who is telling them at the centre of our decision making. The initiative has had a profound impact on our staff, and has primed us to be able to champion inclusivity more broadly.”

From an industry perspective, screenwriter Elise McCredie noted, “Visibility and support for female filmmakers, through initiatives like Gender Matters, has been absolutely fantastic. Stateless which I’m currently showrunning, has predominantly female Heads of Departments. In the past couple of years I believe there’s been much greater awareness of gender equity in both crewing and the composition of writers’ rooms.”

Director of feature film, Judy and Punch, Mirrah Foulkes added, “I really feel a great change in terms of the amount of emerging female directors out there. I feel like there’s a whole swathe of people alongside me, ahead of me, behind me and that feels exciting.”

NEW KPI 2022
With the conclusion of the original three-year KPI period, Screen Australia has set a new Gender Matters target based on a headcount system. The new KPI is to have 50% of the key creatives across all projects that receive Screen Australia development and production funding to be women, across a three-year-average. For the new KPI, the key creatives are directors, writers and producers and the tracking period is 2019/20 to 2021/22.

From August 2020, the agency will also publish the headcount breakdown of key creative roles by format (feature drama, television drama, online drama and documentary), across both development and production, as a means of identifying areas which require targeted assistance.

“Our original Gender Matters KPI encouraged collaboration and was successful in increasing the amount of women in individual creative teams,” said Joanna Werner. “With the new KPI we are focussing on the volume of female key creatives working overall. By rolling development funding into the new KPI, we are seeking to ensure gender representation is being considered right from the early stages of a project.”

Nerida Moore added, “The $5 million in targeted funding provided through Gender Matters in 2015/16 was an important and significant investment that has helped the industry take a huge step forward in addressing gender imbalance. Now our challenge is making sure that women are sharing equitably in the $65 million of funding Screen Australia’s Content Unit disperse each year.”

Unlike the original Gender Matters KPI, the new iteration will not include the role of protagonist, but Screen Australia will continue to collect this data and report on it annually. “Whoever is in control of the story will influence what we see on screen,” Nerida Moore continued. “As such over the last three years, the growth in female creatives has had a clear impact on the stories told, with 58% of funded drama productions in 2018/19 having a female protagonist.”

The Gender Matters Task Force has been an important advisory body for Screen Australia. Later this year, Screen Australia will issue an Expressions of Interest for people wishing to join.

Source: Screen Australia announcement


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