Deanne Weir and Olivia Humphrey.

Female-led Australian feature films and content-related technology start-ups are the focus of a new company launched by entrepreneurs Deanne Weir and Olivia Humphrey.

Born out of a shared passion for local stories told through a gender lens, Storyd Group will work with filmmakers, founders, and investors to find new audiences and support innovation in storytelling, technology, and finance models within the country’s independent film sector.

The company’s first official film investments are Gracie Otto’s Seriously Red and Daina Reid’s Run Rabbit Run, the latter of which commences production this week.

Both Humphrey and Weir have also invested Renée Webster’s How to Please a Woman, which is being produced by Tania Chambers and Judi Levine.

Elsewhere, Storyd has optioned Lyn Yeowart’s debut novel The Silent Listener for screen adaptation and has made investments in two content-related technology start-ups – Viewie, an app where anyone can publish and watch videos about their favourite tv shows and movies; and Omelia, a new tool designed to help writers and game designers develop, plan, structure, and manage stories in real-time.

Humphrey, who spent 20 years in media distribution before founding global indie film streaming platform Kanopy in 2008, said she and Weir would use their experience to help filmmakers find new forms of finance and explore better paths to market.

“Female-driven projects find it more difficult to access funding, distribution and exhibition opportunities, so Storyd intends to play a role in bringing a more balanced view of the world to our screens,” he said.

“Our investments in film-related start-ups will complement our vision for a globally competitive and robust Australian independent film sector.”

Weir, who helped set up Screen Australia’s Gender Matters Taskforce during her time on the agency’s board and is also chair of the Sydney Film Festival and For Film’s Sake, said the venture combined the pair’s love of film with their business experience and investment funds under a “very clear” gender lens.

“Olivia and I have known each other since our Austar days nearly 20 years ago,” she said.

“It was a joy to watch her create Kanopy from nothing, taking the risk to move her family to San Francisco and build the company into an international success. 

“Since Olivia’s exit from Kanopy we have been talking about the intersection of storytelling and technology, and the entrepreneurial mindset needed for Australian screen creatives to succeed in an ever-changing global market.

“We are both passionate advocates for gender equality, and we want to see more screen stories about women, told by women.”

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