Used and dumped – not this time round. Image: Nora Heysen’s painting of Transport driver (Aircraftwoman Florence Miles). Nora Heysen was the first female war artist, and struggled hard to get close to the war in New Guinea after painting a lot of lovely portraits of senior nurses.
The second wave renaissance of the Australian screen sector had several parents, from Whitlam’s river of cash into the ABC, the rise of tax mechanisms and the sheer energy of a new generation chafing at the bit.
There were disturbing signs that it would turn into another generation of patriarchy, which was stopped by individuals and groups who fought for change. That first generation of feminists are now honoured elders and powerful matriarchs in our sector.
But the message of those times was also clear – there is no reason for complacency, and real change only goes far enough if the campaigners remain implacable. Social justice can never be taken for granted. Bureaucracies are never reliable, and the sector must own its destiny.
With this history, and a sense of ongoing joy about screen creativity, women screen leaders have launched Dame Changer, designed, in the words of the announcement, ‘to build the leadership capabilities and career success of women in screen.’
The official launch of DAME CHANGER will be next Thursday March 8, International Women’s Day, at an event in Sydney where Margaret Pomeranz and Gretel Killeen will be ‘in conversation’ about the challenges and opportunities facing women in the industry.
DAME CHANGER has been formed by women with expertise across the industry in development and distribution, directing, screen writing, producing, marketing and finance, all with a shared commitment to advancing the careers of women in screen.
“We aim to build resilient, sustainable and successful careers for women in screen. Teaching women how to lead and develop successful projects and teams to ensure long term viability is our business objective,” said one of DAME CHANGER’s founders Heather Oxenham.
DAME CHANGER is launching targeted programs to build women’s business skills, professional knowledge and commercial confidence. Targeting mid-career women who have close-to-market screen projects that need assistance to launch, DAME CHANGER will offer two strategic programs, SCREEN TANK and MENTOR TO MARKET.
Honouring a historic Australian legend in screen who did it all back in the 1930’s, DAME CHANGER will also offer a Lottie Lyell Scholarship every year to a woman who displays the grit and tenacity required to be successful in this industry. The Scholarship will assist to subsidise participation in an approved international training program.
Margaret Pomeranz, Patron of DAME CHANGER, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be part of Dame Changer. I’ve been a great believer in the talents of women for many decades and this initiative to promote their careers in the film and television indusScreen Tank is an intensive 3-day program with local and international industry professionals to be held from 30th April – 2nd May 2018. Projects will be hot-housed by industry experts and participants will receive constructive and actionable feedback to apply directly to their projects. A combination of professional development, mentoring and coaching knowledge with networking access will provide a rich experience for women keen on breaking through the glass ceiling to achieve success. Applications close April 9. To apply, go to: https://www.damechanger.com/screentank/
The Mentor to Market “Project Accelerator” will offer a structured 12- month project development program. Entry to this program will be offered to selected Screen Tank participants who show real tenacity and leadership. They will be paired with Industry professionals and mentors tasked with developing their project to be market ready. For further information go to: https://www.damechanger.com/mentor-to-market/
Margaret Pomeranz, Patron of DAME CHANGER, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be part of Dame Changer. I’ve been a great believer in the talents of women for many decades and this initiative to promote their careers in the film and television industry is exciting, hopefully producing a dynamic shift in the status quo.”
The DAME CHANGER management team is Debra Richards, CEO of AusFilm, Jane Corden, Managing Director of MoneyPenny Production Accounting, Anni Browning, Managing Director, Film Finances Australasia, executive producer Bridget Ikin, production executive Heather Oxenham and lawyer and banker Amanda Dobbie.
Director and writer Rachel Ward has lent her support to DAME CHANGER. She said: “I don’t believe any more in the adage, ‘best person for the job.’ Nothing will change for women in the industry unless action is gender focused, for a time, in order for women to catch up. We need to organise and consolidate our power bases as men have done so well for so long. Dame Changer gives us that arena.”
Producer Bridget Ikin said: “We all know there’s a massive gender imbalance in the film and television industry. The stats are alarming, and aren’t getting better! Our new organisation, Dame Changer, will offer very practical support to women as they aspire to put together their first substantial project – via leadership, mentoring and specific coaching. A very healthy by-product of this support is that we’ll all be the beneficiary of more female-centred stories, designed to depict and explore our diverse lives as women.”
DAME CHANGER has been supported by Create NSW through its Industry Development Fund.
“In collaboration with our industry which, to its credit, was able to see the urgent need for change, the Create NSW 50:50 by 2020 gender target was achieved three years ahead of schedule and we now have gender parity across overall numbers in director, writer and producer roles in all screen productions receiving Create NSW funding,” said Create NSW CEO Michael Brealey. “We see DAME CHANGER as having an important contribution to make to ensure women continue to be given opportunities for career progression.”
Fiona Cameron, COO of Screen Australia, said: “To address gender disparity in the screen industry requires the whole sector to work together, and independent initiatives like Dame Changer are invaluable. It’s always encouraging to see women who are in senior positions helping the next generation of female creatives, and bit by bit we are seeing the range of career opportunities available grow.”
“If our vision for sexual equality in this industry and on our screens is to be realised it has to start with ensuring sustainable careers for our mid-career women,” Jane Corden said.
International Women’s Day In Conversation with Margaret Pomeranz and Gretel Killeen is a partnership between DAME CHANGER and BIZ GALS. The event is will be from 6pm – 8pm on Thursday March 8 at the Parkroyal Darling Harbour. You can book here https://www.damechanger.com/international-womens-day-2018/.