Australian advocacy organisation For Film’s Sake recently announced Attagirl, an intensive narrative feature film development lab running in 2020/21 and 2021/22, supported by Screen Australia’s Enterprise Business and Ideas program.
Created by Sophie Mathisen, Executive Director of For Film’s Sake, Attagirl will see up to 12 majority female and/or non-binary creative teams participate in a 10-month incubator program designed to support the development trajectory of narrative features in an increasingly digitally-focused marketplace. The course content centres on three major pillars – story, market and audience – with support provided by international screen agencies and leading international film festivals.
Whilst the initial Attagirl program included travel to three continents to participate in three international festivals, the COVID-19 pandemic has pivoted the program to a predominantly digital delivery, championed by Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the Sydney Film Festival (SFF). Selected teams will each be assigned an Project Mentor who will, over the course of the three workshops, engage Script, Audience and Financial Consultants to support creation of strategies for progressing their films to production and release. Attagirl will culminate in a financing forum integrated into Sydney Film Festival in 2021, drawing together new and established financiers dedicated to the creation of diverse stories.
The approach is based on FFS Executive Director Sophie Mathisen’s Churchill Fellowship in 2018 that identified a need for supported distribution strategies as key to achieving greater participation by female and marginalised filmmakers. An early pilot of the approach, entitled Filmonomics Australia, ran in conjunction with UK organisation Birds Eye View and was supported by Screen Australia, the Queensland Government through Screen Queensland and the Brisbane International Film Festival.
“A major finding of my Fellowship was how the changing nature of distribution is stalling completion of many female-driven films,” said Sophie.
“With the decline of theatrical revenue for smaller budget films, investors are increasingly more risk-averse in deciding whether to support new talent who rely on third-party investment to trigger government support. If we are to see a significant shift in the numbers of women and non-binary creatives working in feature film, a reimagining of the financial pathway is crucial. A more innovative, audience-centric approach needs to be adopted to prove not only the cultural, but economic viability of their work. Attagirl has brought together an exciting roster of stakeholders committed to the feature film format and we are excited to launch at a time when the wider screen sector is reassessing its methods and mission for working.”
Female creators are chronically underrepresented in the English-speaking feature film market. Of the people working in feature film creative roles in Australia between 2012/13 and 2017/18, only 17% of the directors were women, with female writers (23%) and producers (36%) faring marginally better. According to a recent UNESCO report, in Europe only one in five films is directed by a woman, and only 16% of the funding goes to films directed by women.
“It will take our whole industry to commit to deliver a more equitable spread of voices telling Australian stories, and we’re pleased to support Sophie Mathisen and her team pursue this market and audience-led approach,” said Nerida Moore, Head of Development at Screen Australia, a major funding body of the initiative.
Kylie Munnich, CEO of Screen Queensland, says, “It’s fantastic to see Attagirl emerge from our support for Filmonomics in 2018. In continuing our support for such equity-providing initiatives, Screen Queensland is actively committed to fostering much needed change in our industry for increased female and non-binary representation, and overall diversity.”
A minimum of six creative teams from Australia will be selected. All members of these teams must be Australian citizens or permanent residents. The films they are developing must be on the path to being Australian films (i.e. they will satisfy the Significant Australian Content test) or Official Co-productions.
Applications are open now and close midnight AEDT 16 August. No late submissions will be accepted. Applicants should review the full guidelines before applying.