Create NSW beats screen funding gender equality target

Rachel Perkins directing the Create NSW-supported ABC series ‘Mystery Road’ (Photo: John Platt).

Create NSW has already achieved its target of an average 50:50 gender split in its screen development and production funding programs by 2020.

Its predecessor Screen NSW set that goal in 2015, recognising that females were poorly represented, particularly in key creative roles.

“Now the challenge is to maintain that average,” Create NSW acting executive director Grainne Brunsdon tells IF.

“It will take constant work, particularly with the number of women directing TV dramas.”

Women accounted for just 30 per cent of the directors who received funding in fiscal 2015-16, compared with 57 per cent of producers and 41 per cent of writers. 

In 2017-18 women represented 45 per cent of directors, 62 per cent of producers and 50 per cent of writers.

So, overall the percentage of women in key creative roles improved from 44 per cent in 2015-16 to 53 per cent in 2017-18.

Among the prominent women whose careers have been nurtured by the agency is director Shannon Murphy, who will make her feature debut with Babyteeth after she helms the four-part drama The Ropes for SBS, both produced by Lingo Pictures.

The list includes:

  • Fadia Abboud, who co-directed an episode of Jungle Entertainment’s Here Come the Habibs! and the Create NSW Generator Emerging Filmmaker Fund short Concern for Welfare, which aired on SBS as part of Sydney Mardi Gras 2018 40th anniversary series celebrations.
  • Darlene Johnson, who had a production attachment on Screentime’s The Secret Daughter and is now moving into directing TV drama.
  • Lucy Gaffy, who is directing episodes of the third series of Easy Tiger’s Doctor Doctor after a director’s attachment on the second season.
  • Nel Minchin, who received production funding for her documentary Making Muriel, which follows P.J. Hogan as he adapted his 1994 hit Muriel’s Wedding into a musical.
  • Mirrah Foulkes, who received funding for her feature directing debut Judy & Punch.
  • Matilda Brown’s Let’s Talk About series two, which got development and production finance following the success of the first series developed through Screen NSW.
  •  Jen Peedom, who was supported for Tenzing, her first narrative drama, through the Amplifier program.
  • Sally Aitken, who received production finance for her upcoming doc The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook

Brunsdon confirmed the screen agency will receive $9.7 million from the NSW government in 2018-19, roughly the same as the current financial year.

The $20 million Made in NSW fund has outlaid more than $19 million, which has leveraged productions worth $408 million, supporting 11,000 jobs.

The latest recipient is Playmaker Media’s 10-part drama Reckoning for Sony’s TV networks in Europe and Latin America.

Create NSW is in discussions with the government in hopes the fund will be renewed.