Jungle update: Operation Sheena - female creative talent initiative
In November, NSW based production company Jungle announced Operation Sheena, a three-part initiative to address gender equity in its organisation. Those initiatives are the launch of a female creative talent program in collaboration with Screen NSW; a commitment to employ at least one female in writing, directing or producing on every project; and the promotion of Chloe Rickard to partner and Head of Film and TV production. We catch up with Chloe Rickard and get an update on Jungle’s first director attachments and the team to discuss the initiatives.
Chloe Rickard - Partner/Head of Production - Jungle
How is Operation Sheena going?
Jungle launched Operation Sheena, supported by Screen NSW, in mid-November this year in conjunction with our name change, formerly Jungleboys.
After the successful employment of Fadia Abboud under a Screen Australia Directors Attachment program for Here Come the Habibs!, Jungle decided to continue the initiative with a 10 week Writer in Residence and Director's Attachment placement across both the commercial and film and television arms of the business.
Cate Stewart will take up the directing position. We are yet to select a writer, but aim to do so by early 2016.
The aim is not to take on juniors, but rather give female creatives, who have already demonstrated significant talent, the opportunity to get the exposure and experience they need to take their career to the next level.
Julia Corcoran, Jungle staffer, has also been promoted into a full time position within the film and television arm and supported by a three year Producer Mentor Program.
Jungle also plans to undertake research in the New Year that looks at the employment of women in the Australian screen industry, with the central objective to understand the awareness, barriers and suggested solutions to the gender employment gap. This will be in collaboration with Screen Audience Research Australia (SARA).
Jungle’s aim is to lead and advocate change measuring success and holding ourselves out as one case study for the industry.
Since launching Operation Sheena, how has the industry reacted and how do you feel the announcement has affected the perception of Jungle in the industry?
The industry has been very positive.
Delegates at the Screen Forever conference applauded the announcement during the A Fistful of F-Words session hosted by Courtney Gibson and our Facebook page has had only positive comments.
In terms of the advertising industry, the reaction has been positive with congratulatory emails and positive feedback.
It seems the timing is right with everything else that is going on in the industry – Screen NSW targets, Screen Australia’s Gender Matters task force and Sandra Levy, former AFTRS CEO, Lumina article, Does Gender Matter?.
Our own staff has also reacted very positively. Many have expressed their happiness to be part of positive change.
Have you been approached by other individuals/ production teams interested in how Jungle approached and delivered Operation Sheena?
Lots of feedback and enquiries.
Some great quotes:
“what a fantastic initiative”
“Earlier this month, I got the opportunity to attend Screen Forever and the F-Word session that you were part of. I was hoping to walk away from Screen Forever feeling motivated to pursue a career in the screen industry and genuine optimism about what someone from my cultural and educational background could achieve if I put myself out there and your presence definitely helped! I am hopeful I can start to confidently steer stories that resemble my own lived experiences onto screens, connecting with audiences who want to see these stories come to life, too.”
“Great move yes Jungle much better and initiatives for women tops.”
Has the mood changed at Jungle since the announcement? How do the staff feel?
We currently have two female creative led films in development with Screen Australia as well as a new female led TV series that is just around the corner. Sheena fits well with these projects and overall it feels as though we are moving in the right direction.
The current industry statistics do not match the female talent on offer, and I’m thrilled to be part of rectifying that inequality
Nick Simkins - Jungle EP of TV Commercials said: “This change reflects our growth as a company and we think it reflects our company ethos more accurately. We’re also putting systems in place that ultimately lead to the nurturing and elevation of female directors.”
Julia Corcoran - Production Assistant said: “It is nice for your company to recognise and push for gender equality in the workplace. I feel excited for my new position and am looking forward to settling into it.”
Fadia Abboud, Director's Attachment said: “Being on a shoot and watching it all happen without the responsibility of it being your own project is one of the best ways you can learn. It has enriched my understanding of directing and has definitely contributed to my skills – its also connected me with people in the industry I would not have normally met and that’s important too.”
Jessie Hildebrand, Assistant Editor said: “I am excited that there is a sense of change happening. I feel reflective that it has taken so long for the industry to get to this stage and looking forward to seeing the outcome.”
Jason Burrows, Jungle MD said: “We feel that the name Jungle is more representative of who we are now; with our film and TV business incorporating in the US, we should, at the very least, try and pretend to be grown ups.”
Cate Stewart -Director's Attachment
Can you tell us from your perspective what the impacts of Jungle’s internships are to industry?
Jungle’s internships have generated such a positive response from the industry, raising an important conversation around gender imbalance that has largely been ignored up until now. Having a well-known production company such as Jungle be so proactive in trying to shift that culture will have an enormous impact on the industry, hopefully encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.
How has this internship impacted you?
I'm a self-taught director so being able to spend time learning from other established directors will have an enormous impact on me personally, and I can see how committed Jungle are in fostering my growth and getting me out there working.