Australian female TV screenwriters begin Gender Matters programme | Broadcast | News | Rapid TV News
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Fifteen entry-level female TV screenwriters from Australia have been selected as part of Endemol Shine Australia’s Smart for a Girl: ROAR development programme.

Alice Bell and Imogen Banks with Smart for a Girl ROAR applications 7 August 2017The women, chosen from 935 applicants, will work in groups with renowned producer Imogen Banks (Offspring) and screenwriter Alice Bell (Puberty Blues, The Beautiful Lie) on how an idea is developed into a TV series through the processes of a writers’ room. The programme has received funding from Screen Australia’s Gender Matters: Brilliant Careers initiative.

“There was so much promise inside those 935 applications – it was excruciating limiting ourselves to four projects, so we’ve stretched to five. Gender Matters has unearthed a rich seam of potential and enabled us to tap into it, however lightly. It’s been a hugely rewarding experience already and with our first room running on Monday, we’re about to start the fun part,” said Imogen Banks.

Alice Bell added: “Reading the 935 submissions personally (yes, every single one!) has shown us what we suspected when we set out to create the Smart For A Girl: ROAR initiative – that there is a high level of untapped talent out there. Imogen and I feel privileged to be able to work with these emerging female screenwriters, guiding them into realising their ideas creatively, but also exposing them to the television industry in a nurturing way.”

The successful applicants and their ideas for development include: Unruly Girls from creator/writer Clare Young, shadow writer Ella Roby and note-taker Lily Daubney is a mini-series inspired by the 1961 riot at the Parramatta Girls Home; tense drama series ID from creator/writer Vanessa Gazy, shadow writer Zuleika Khan and note-taker Katherine Sullivan.

The Spoils is a half-hour drama comedy from creator/writer Zoe Pepper, writer Anna Lindner and note-taker Lili Owen about a woman chosen to pioneer a new planet, while Reconciliation Rescue from creator/writer Angelina Hurley, shadow writer Alisha Hnatjuk, and note-taker Matilda Ridgeway is a comedy series, following an Aboriginal woman who finds herself accidentally caught up in bringing the nation together. Finally, Empath from creator/writer Ash Ricardo, shadow writer Imogen McCluskey and note-taker Georgina Love, is a one-hour drama series centering on a woman who accidentally discovers that a revolutionary new medical device can read emotion.

The Gender Matters KPI was announced by the Government funding agency Screen Australia in December 2015 in response to the identified gender imbalance in Australia’s lead creative roles across the screen sector. The KPI aims to have 50% of successful production funding applications led by women by the end of 2018/19.

“Whilst we are getting close to gender parity across the titles that receive our production funding, the results are uneven with the television and online sectors continuing to do the heavy lifting,” said Fiona Cameron, COO, Screen Australia.

“However, successful applications for female-led feature films have jumped considerably to 39% in 2016/17, from a low bar of 22% in 2015/16. Documentary is also slowly inching towards parity, with 42% of successful production funding applications going to projects from female-led teams across the last two financial years.”