Leah Purcell: #SheDirects and Industry Representation

June 21, 2018
An impressive group of  emerging Australian female directors were on hand to launch an exciting new Create NSW initiative.

At a media launch yesterday at The Mint in Sydney, Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin, along with an eclectic group of emerging female filmmakers, including Leah Purcell and Rachel Griffiths, unveiled a new incentive program aimed at increasing the number of projects with female directors.

The Create NSW initiative, named #SheDirects, will offer $100,000 in grants to up to four 1-hour TV dramas that have female directors attached.

The incentive aims to foster more female representation in the industry, as part of a push to achieve the ‘50:50 by 2020’ gender parity target for directors set by Create NSW.

The program does not apply to episodic comedies, or features, specifically targeting television.

“I think a lot of people, when they they’re crewing up for projects, especially in TV, because you can have multiple directors, they do consider if there a woman out there that could do this job,” Purcell told us.

“And that’s why I’m a part of this, being an Ambassador, being the face. We want to be in people’s faces, and make them conscious of their thoughts, and if we can just get the people to ask that question, then we’re doing our job.”

Purcell, who is gearing up to direct her first feature, The Drover’s Wife, said part of the issue was making people conscious of the issue.

“The more people that have that awareness, the more our industry in Australia as a whole will benefit.”

Back row: Anna Broinowski, Lynn-Marie Danzey, Jane Eakin, Jennifer Peedom and Debbie Lee. Front row: Catriona McKenzie, Leah Purcell, Rachel Griffiths, Samantha Lang and Lucy Gaffy.

The actress turned writer/director said she hopes the initiative will make future generations more aware of the issue.

“I do a lot for young people, I give back, it’s just who I am. I was given opportunity, so I try to help be a mentor on projects, or have young people on mine. And I think we have to start somewhere. Young people, the next generation will be a lot more considerate of all people, with such a multicultural society. I hope that we have women of all races in years to come making change, and putting these stories on screen for the diversity in our country.

“It’s got to come back to film schools, when they’re training producers, when they are training those people on that side, where the money starts.

“I was very privileged in the fact that when I came through, I had a lot of women around me,” Purcell added.

“Whether it was ‘the boys club’, because a lot of people do say it was the mentality of those times, that they just gave roles to mates and didn’t look outside the box that they had in their eyes. We were all trying to knock the walls down to get in, so hopefully with this initiative and the change that has been coming, the upheaval in the industry itself, the walls of those boxes will fall away.”

Applications for #SheDirects are open until Sunday August 5, 2019.

Guidelines can be found here

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