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Podcast – Joanna Werner: Gender Matters

Producer Joanna Werner talks through the Gender Matters KPI alongside her thoughts on the industry.

Joanna Werner

Producer Joanna Werner with director Cherie Nolan on the set of Dance Academy series 1

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Four years since the announcement of Gender Matters, producer Joanna Werner of Dance Academy and Riot is glad the conversation around female representation in the industry hasn’t abated.

Instead, efforts to balance the scales continue to be made, from funding agencies, the guilds, production companies, and organisations such as WIFT, The Natalie Miller Fellowship and more.

For Screen Australia, the agency has met the Gender Matters KPI it set out to achieve three years ago, and now has announced a new one, whereby 50% of the key creatives in projects that receive development or production funding are women, across a three-year-average.

“It’ll be a lot more critical… but I think it’s really important that we keep setting the bar higher,” Werner says.

Screen Australia has also released new industry-wide data and on the podcast Werner talks through some of the trends that stood out to her. Werner, who is also on the Screen Australia Board and chair of the Gender Matters Taskforce, says one takeaway for her was that female representation in feature film directors might be on the increase but is still “scarily low” at 17% industry-wide (2012-2018).

“We still have so much work to do to make sure that women are given the opportunity to helm feature films as a director and given the opportunity to write the scripts that make it into production,” Werner says.

“We’re underutilising such a creative force... it’ll take a long time until those stats come up. It wasn’t fixed by that first round of Gender Matters funding – that absolutely helped and it was fantastic to have the attention, but this is an ongoing challenge and systemic change throughout the whole industry that’s needed so it’s great that the conversation is ongoing.”

Werner also talks to why there might be more women working as producers in TV drama, which is the only key creative role above parity (55%) industry-wide.

“I’d started off really wanting to do feature films but saw no opportunities and no in-roads. For me personally there were more opportunities in television, and that might be across the board,” Werner says.

Werner is also joined on the podcast by Judy and Punch writer/director Mirrah Foulkes and Eliza Reilly, the co-writer/co-director of Sheilas, who briefly speak about the greater impact of support on their careers.

To read the new industry wide data or learn more about the new Gender Matters KPI, visit the Screen Australia website, or click here

The audio at the beginning of the podcast episode is taken from the Gender Matters launch video, with speakers including writer/director Corrie Chen, actor Alison Whyte and producer Sue Maslin.

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