Trailblazer tackles industry gaps
White men may dominate the national and international film industries, but local filmmaker Jub Clerc is blazing a trail for two sorely under-represented sectors — indigenous Australians and women.
Clerc, a Nyul Nyul/Yawuru woman who splits her time between Quedjinup and the Kimberley, recently returned from Byron Bay where she was one of 12 women selected for Screenworks’ nationwide Athena Project.
The career-enhancement project aims to close the industry’s gender gap by supporting female filmmakers in regional Australia.
Clerc said one of the biggest take-home messages was of society’s unconscious gender bias, amplified in the male-dominated film industry.
“There are a lot of female filmmakers … but only 13-16 per cent of them are actually employed,” she said.
“I’m a big believer in hiring the best person for the job, but it’s hard to know who the best person is when so many women are out of work.”
Through the Athena Project, Clerc learned of the gender gap and the ways Screenworks was working to combat it.
“A lot of us have children and that support network hasn’t been there in the industry,” she said.
“You spend just as many years as your male counterparts studying … and then of course you have a family, if you want to, and the support just wasn’t there to get the women back into the industry.
“You had to have a pretty amazing partner, which I’m pretty lucky to have, who supported you 110 per cent.
“That’s what they’re really looking at.”
Another initiative supporting Clerc’s development as a filmmaker is Screenwest’s Feature Navigator Program, which she was accepted into in August.
The 12-month tailored program will support Clerc as she works towards her debut feature-length film.
Clerc has made many short films and documentaries and worked on major Australian films including Bran Nu Dae, Mad Bastards and Satellite Boy.
She is also the indigenous film co-ordinator for the South West’s biggest annual film festival, CinéfestOz.
Clerc’s next venture will now be shooting her first full-length film, titled She Begins By Breaking.
The film is inspired by her own childhood and retells Clerc’s experiences on a National Geographic photographic expedition down WA’s coast.
“I was 14, really innocent, probably more like today’s 12-year-olds,” she said.
“I didn’t pay any attention to boys at the time ... but of course I had to go fall head over heels in love with the trainee photographer.
“And I met a girl in Coral Bay, a dancer, she was dynamic and voluptuous and everything I wasn’t.
“That trip was my awakening … so this story is sort of an ode to my childhood.”
As well as an homage to her past, Clerc said the film would incorporate quirky elements, like obscure dream sequences.
“There’ll be things you wouldn’t normally see black fellas doing, like roller skating and singing opera,” she said.
With the help of the Feature Nav program, Clerc hopes to be in pre-production by 2018.
It is also likely Clerc, a Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts acting graduate, will cast herself in the film.
“I’m an actor too, so I do appear in most of my films,” she said.
As she does with her own films, Clerc said it was important for people to create opportunities for themselves. She said it was also important that under-represented sectors like indigenous Australians and women had a voice in the arts.
“I stayed in filmmaking because once I saw how little (of an) indigenous voice there was in filmmaking, I realised it wasn’t a passion as much as a necessity,” she said.
“The necessity of it is my passion.”
Clerc also thanked Screenworks for “taking the lead” in closing the industry’s gender gap.
“It’s an amazing initiative that will change the face of Australian filmmaking and will hopefully set a really beautiful precedent for the world,” she said.
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