Megan Riakos departs WIFT Australia board

Megan Riakos.

After almost four years with Women in Film & Television (WIFT), Megan Riakos, the driving force behind the nationalisation of the organisation in 2018, will depart the board this month to focus on her slate of projects as an independent producer with Hemlock & Cedar Films.

“It’s difficult to leave behind such a fantastic team and all the programs I’ve been involved in developing,” said Riakos.

“At the same time, I’m excited about what the future holds. WIFT Australia is moving into a dynamic next phase, while I will be able to devote myself fully to the development of my company.”

She will retain an association with WIFT Australia in an advisory capacity.

Riakos first became involved with WIFT in 2016. That year, she wrote an open letter, published by IF, calling out what she saw as an unfair and opaque AACTA Award selection process. She argued it was causing women to be locked out, sparking the infamous Sausage Party Protest on the red carpet of the AACTA Awards. 

The following year, Megan took the helm as president of WIFT NSW with an agenda to go national. She spearheaded the formation of WIFT Australia, alongside founding board members Katrina Irawati Graham, Briony Kidd, Shannon Wilson-McClinton, Alexandra Nell, Kath McIntyre, Margarita Ivanovsky and Anna Cadden.

This new body was an alliance of various previously existing groups including WIFT NSW, and WIFT WA and also led to the creation of new state chapters in QLD, TAS, ACT, NT and SA. WIFT VIC works collaboratively with the national alliance but remains a separate organisation.

“Megan has been a dear friend and inspiring co-conspirator from the start. We would not have WIFT Australia without her,” says WIFT Australia chair Katrina Irawati Graham.

“Her vision and dedication has driven us from gestation, to birth and into our third year. The process of unifying is not always an easy one but it is vital to achieving lasting change. These efforts towards strategic and collective focus continue as Megan moves on to new challenges. As do many of the brilliant programs that she originated.”

Riakos’ achievements while on the WIFT Australia board include: founding the Raising Films Australia initiative, building support from government and industry to develop the first comprehensive survey report on parents and carers in screen in collaboration with University of Technology Sydney, Western Sydney University and Create NSW; developing the Making It Possible (MIP) Program to support carers, with funding support from Women NSW and Create NSW; and collaborating in the development and launch of the Safer Workplace Strategies industry forum to help combat sexual harassment to agitate for the inclusion of safety codes and guidelines within the industry around sexual harassment.

Reflecting on her time with WIFT, Riakos said: “It was through WIFT that I understood that each of us have the power to make a difference. That by speaking up you can change policy and bring an issue to the forefront, but you can also support people on an individual level, to let them know that they are a part of a community.”

“It’s time for me to step aside to make room for newcomers and new ideas. But I will continue collaborating with WIFT members as my valued colleagues and friends, including as a mentor in the Gender Matters Connect program.”

Riakos’ most recent project with Hemlock & Cedar Films is horror anthology, Dark Whispers – Volume 1, which has just debuted on SBS On Demand.

She recently wrote and directed an episode of the horror series Deadhouse Dark which premiered at Canneseries last year and will launch online on Shudder at the end of April. She has also optioned the rights to Robin Klein’s YA classic People Might Hear You, which she is developing for the screen with Enzo Tedeschi (The Tunnel, Event Zero).