by Libby Gandhi.
Women in Film and Television New South Wales (WIFT NSW) have partnered with UK-based Raising Films to cast a spotlight on the difficulties faced by parents and carers within the Australian film industry.
The collaboration joins several recent initiatives aimed at equalizing opportunities. In December 2017 Screen Australia launched their Gender Matters portal designed to increasing female involvement in filmmaking, while WIFT lead a national online forum promoting safer workplaces. The American ‘Free The Bid’ campaign, which advocates on behalf of female directors for equal opportunities, also arrived in Australia in December 2017 with Jasmin Tarasin at the helm.
Raising Films offers parents and carers a system and platform for speaking out. A UK Study by the organization found that 79% of those interviewed felt their caring role had negatively impacted their career. This was not merely due to the cost of childcare, but the physical demands of pregnancy, and inflexible and demanding work practices.
“Being a parent is like being in production 24 hours a day, with no turnaround and more laundry” says Hope Dickson Leach, Co-Founder of Raising Films.
An investigation backed by the British Film Institute concurred. The study, titled ‘Raising Our Game: Next Steps for the UK Film and Television Industry’ concluded that the UK screen sector suffered from a “precarious and exploitative culture” due to “casualised labour practices, deregulation, [and] deunionisation”.
Furthermore, it highlighted that “people are scared of being blacklisted [for speaking out] and not rehired to work on the productions they want to work on” (David Andrews).
Now, thanks to the advocacy of producer Leonie Mansfield and scriptwriter Nicole Dade, the movement has arrived in Australia.
Raising Films Australia (RFAU) aims to create conversations that make change happen. They intend to challenge the lifestyle demands of the film industry at a structural level to promote flexible working hours and access to child and/or elderly care that would support filmmakers with families. The movement provides a formal means of combatting discrimination and catalyzes normalized conversations with employers about caring commitments.
In the immediate future, RFAU and WIFT are planning a survey and report in order to compare the UK and Australian industries, and to work together on addressing barriers and discrimination. Raising Films Australia encourages the film industry to respond positively and practically to its concerns.
Testimonials and further information about Raising Films can be found on their website www.raisingfilms.com