FremantleMedia relents, adds local director to Hanging Rock miniseries

FremantleMedia has agreed to hire an additional local director for Picnic at Hanging Rock following criticism it had imported a foreign director.

Canadian Director Larysa Kondracki remains on the series along with Australian director Michael Rymer, but FMA will additionally hire a local female director. Two early career Victorian female directors will also be attached to observe the production process.

Jo Porter, FremantleMedia Australia Director of Drama said: “Fremantle Media acknowledges the sensitivity around the selection of the creative team and as a consequence, we have engaged with Screen Australia, Film Victoria, the Australian Director’s Guild and the commissioning broadcaster, Foxtel, to move forward in a productive manner.

“We assembled two directors who will bring this iconic story to life and honour the incredible legacy of the Joan Lindsay novel. We now welcome the engagement of a third, Australian female director to work with Michael and Larysa on this landmark project,” she said.

“This is a unique opportunity for true international collaboration on this major work. Larysa is a gifted director and is held in high esteem internationally, helping to maximise the drama’s success in foreign territories such as the US. Michael has an enviable track record in Australia and abroad and brings a unique perspective to the telling of Australian stories.”

Ian Hogg, CEO FremantleMedia Australia & Asia Pacific, said: “FremantleMedia Australia has a strong track record of championing gender equality. We have a proud history of taking Australian-led stories overseas, including Foxtel’s Wentworth, which is now an international success and has attracted critical acclaim for telling strong female stories.”

Samantha Lang, President of the Australian Directors Guild said, “The decision by Fremantle to hire a female director to direct an episode of the series and receive the credit is a significant outcome and could only have occurred with the support and commitment of our colleagues at Foxtel, Screen Australia and Film Victoria as well our advocates at WIFT who raised industry awareness of the issue. It also sustains the work that has gone into the Screen Australia ‘Gender Matters’ initiative.”

Sophie Mathisen, WIFT NSW President added, “Given the disproportionately low instance of female directorship of significant works of dramatic film and television, WIFT NSW welcomes the addition of a third female director to the upcoming Foxtel and Fremantle production of Picnic at Hanging Rock. Through a united effort with the ADG we are pleased with this outcome that will provide a meaningful credit on a domestic project of scale”

Significantly, Screen Australia has also committed to changing their program guidelines and propose to make it an expectation that applicants for direct funding of television productions guarantee their project is written and directed by Australian citizens or residents.

“This will ensure that Australian directors will be engaged on Australian funded productions” said Kingston Anderson CEO of the ADG.

The ADG also thanked Foxtel for their ongoing support of Australian drama and for the engagement of Australian directors.

Film Victoria CEO, Jenni Tosi said, “The two female director placements on offer builds on Films Victoria’s track record in recognising the value of women in the screen industry and the importance of ensuring they have access to development and progression opportunities in the industry.

“The addition of a third Australian female to the directing team on Picnic is a terrific example of the collaborative and co-operative spirit that exists between screen agencies, Guilds, businesses and broadcasters here in Australia. We’re delighted this matter has been resolved and we look forward to the production enjoying great success with audiences at home and abroad.”

Applications for the female director placement opportunities close at 5pm, Friday 6 January at www.film.vic.gov.au

Written by Bea Christian and Alice Addison, the miniseries begins shooting in Victoria in February.

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