Women Wrote Half SWANZ 2014 Nominated Scripts!


The New Zealand Writers Guild has announced the Finalists for the Script Writer Awards NZ 2014. Fantastic to see so many women's names. Warm congratulations to you all!

BEST FEATURE FILM SCRIPT
Max Currie – Everything We Loved
James Napier Robertson – Dark Horse
Gerard Johnstone – Housebound
Sophie Henderson – Fantail

BEST TELEVISION ONE-OFF DRAMA
Fiona Samuel – Consent: The Louise Nicholas Stor
Donna Malane & Paula Boock – Field Punishment No.1 
Donna Malane & Paula Boock – Pirates of the Airwaves

UNPRODUCED FEATURE FILM SCRIPT COMPETITION
Gillian Ashurst – Gnats 
Dianne Taylor – The Last Hippie Trail 
Tania Wheeler – Umbrella Man
Richard Goodwin – Immortal Diamond
Jackie Owens – Three Gardens


BEST SHORT FILM SCRIPT
Aroha Awarau – Home
Hamish Bennett – Ross and Beth
Charlie Bleakley and Cohen Holloway – Coconut
Gregory King – UFO

BEST PLAY
Simon Ward – Thumper
Aroha Awarau – Luncheon 
Rochelle Bright – Daffodils 
Pip Hall – Ache

BEST TELEVISION COMEDY EPISODE
Fiona Samuel – Agent Anna: Series 2 Episode 10.
Fiona Samuel & Natalie Medlock – Agent Anna: Series 2 Episode 7
Roseanne Liang – Flat 3: Episode 11
Millen Baird - Auckland Daze: Episode 1

BEST TELEVISION DRAMA EPISODE
Fiona Samuel – Nothing Trivial: Season 3 Episode 2
James Griffin – The Almighty Johnsons: Series 3 Episode 13
James Griffin – Step Dave: Episode 6
Gaylene Preston and Dave Armstrong – Hope and Wire: Episode 5

Here are two pie charts for the nominations. The first describes the genders of the writer(s) attached to each nomination.

Writer gender, 2014 SWANZ nominations


The second is the writer gender split for feature-length scripts, including telemovies.

Writer gender for feature-length script nominations

I've drawn two conclusions from these. Firstly, in New Zealand, there's significant depth in the pool of talented, hardworking, women scriptwriters available. Secondly, that depth, as reflected in these nominations, is not matched by the New Zealand Film Commission's (NZFC) investment in development of feature scripts by women screenwriters over the four years from 2009, which I measured from its Annual Reports and wrote about here.


The proportion the NZFC invested in development of projects written by women corresponds almost precisely with the proportion of women-written scripts nominated for the SWANZ Best Feature Film Script. But that proportion doesn't match women's achievement as writers of feature-length work, as measured in these nominations.

Furthermore, women's strong representation in the Unproduced Film Script nominations reminds me of the research I did earlier this year.  The NZFC has funded very few features with women protagonists for production over the last decade. But 80% of the scripts written by women who answered my questionnaire had women or girls as protagonists. I'm convinced that excellent women scriptwriters' feature film scripts are less often produced with or without NZFC funding because of at least factors–

a) women tend to write about women;
b) producers, men and women are less interested in scripts by and about women than those by and about men; and
c) as an institution the NZFC has an embedded culture that, in spite of the best intentions of individuals who work there, is biased towards stories by and about men.

What will effect a change?

I hope that producers – especially women producers – will look at these nominations and these charts and think about how they can work with women scriptwriters to get their feature-length scripts onto the big screen as well as onto small ones.

I've just interviewed veteran producer Robin Scholes, and of course asked her the 'woman question' and found one aspect of her response particularly illuminating. She said–
I think there is a real niche in the market for films with strong female characters.
Could it be that producers and others haven't yet caught up with the reality that there's more than ' a real niche' for films with strong, complex, women characters? So I tweeted a question, designed to ensure I was uptodate with the current research–



@BiatchPack was in first, with this one– Hollywood Movies With Strong Female Roles Make Money.

Shortly afterwards @GitgoFilms sent this link– The Dollar and Cents Case Against Hollywood's Exclusion of Women.

And then @GitgoFilms had another thought–

  
@RealMaryAgnes added another thought, that #womenmeanbusiness (love it!)


@TheDirectorList confirmed that those two links do it the best.

And then this tweet-and-link, which may or may not be a response but was great to see!


My warm thanks to these lovely American women writers, filmmakers and activists, who keep me up to date, even on their Sundays!!!

So, I'm hoping that New Zealand producers take this on board, seek out women screenwriters and ask 'How can I help?' And flood the NZFC with projects by women. And I hope that the NZFC decides that to be fair it needs to take action to reverse its development investment trend away from their current one, which favours male screenwriters and their stories. Preferably a reversal that also results in more production funding going towards features about girls and women.

SWANZ AWARDS Thursday 25 September Doors 7.00pm | Ceremony 7.30pm Classic Comedy Club Queen St AUCKLAND $35 per member | $45 per non-member | Entry by Doorlist (doors 7pm) Limited Open Bar from 7pm: Get in Quick - all night $ Cash Bar follows Finger Food & Frivolity

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