Screen Queensland launches gender equity initiative

Screen Queensland will roll out four new programs this year in a bid to address the gender imbalance in the Australian screen industry.

The move follows Screen Australia's $5 million investment over three years to tackle gender equity.

Screen Queensland's new initiatives include a Women’s Filmmaker Showcase, where the screen body will create an online female filmmaking showcase to promote existing female writers, directors and producers and their work.

It will also establish a mentor and leadership program designed to pair established filmmakers with early career female screenwriters, directors and producers.

Thirdly, the screen body will provide creative attachments for women in key creative roles.

It will also develop and hold an annual incubator with international leaders in the industry to gather intelligence and implement best practice to grow women’s participation in creative roles in Queensland’s screen sector.

The four initiatives will be supported through evaluation to benchmark and measure the progress.

Screen Queensland will evaluate (numbers and percentages) of applications and funding of women in key creative roles (writer, director, and producer) across relevant Screen Queensland programs and initiatives carry out the Bechdel Test on scripts submitted as part of applications/funded across relevant Screen Queensland programs and initiatives, according to a statement.

The plan follows the Australian Directors Guild's commitment to have women fill 50 per cent of the attachments and for 75 per cent of the attachemnts to reflect both gender and cultural diversity. 

Screen Queensland, chair, Linda Apelt, said the organisation was proud to launch the initiative to support the targets set through Screen Australia’s recently announced Gender Matters, to address the gender imbalance within the industry.

"Our new initiative will help bring about real change in the screen industry and will support the five-point plan announced by Screen Australia in November," she said.

"There is incredible momentum worldwide in the screen industry on this issue and as an agency working directly with filmmakers, we have a responsibility to remove barriers that create this gender imbalance and the opportunity is now."

The MPAA’s annual statistics on moviegoers released in March 2014 found that the majority of people who go to the movies are women (52 per cent).

But we’re seeing stories that are about men 85 per cent of the time.

Apelt said there were strong commercial reasons to back female stories on screen and for screen agencies to play a role in supporting those stories.

"The screen industry maintains a unique role in the creation of cultural identity and is an industry of influence," she said. 

"But on and off screen, representation of women is not currently a reflection of audience or society.

"There are a scarce number of Australian films that are targeting women audiences, and yet there is a large volume of research and evidence that shows that women of all ages spend more time viewing television than men and that women comprise a larger share of cinema goers."