Aussie production industry comes together for short film celebrating gender inclusivity

An independent short film by a majority-female crew is turning gender stereotyping on its head, celebrating the inclusive message of #BesideNotBehind.

Written,  shot, edited and released all within two weeks in time for International Women’s Day (8 March), Beside Not Behind plays on the old saying that “Behind every great man is a great woman” and promotes the message that support can, and should, go both ways. It follows three women in everyday situations where gender bias, presumption and misconception exists in sometimes the most subtle ways.

Its portrayal of women excelling in fields perceived to be male-dominated takes its cue from this year’s IWD theme of #PressforProgress – a strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

Olivia Cheung, Integrated Producer at The Royals, and Cassie De Colling, award-winning director with The Otto Empire,  came  together after hearing too  many stories about discrimination and  gender bias in the film and advertising workplace. They wrote the script over a weekend with three weeks lead  time in order to make the film in time for International Women’s Day.

In the Australian film industry, women make up 32% percent of producers and just 16% of directors and 23% percent of writers.

Cheung said: “It was an ambitious goal to begin with; typically a social campaign of this size would be planned for at least 6 months, and we managed to get this together from concept to delivery in 3 weeks, with the support of so many people willing to donate their time and  skills.

It just goes to show how many people connected with the #BesideNotBehind message – to make things  truly equal and not about gender, it’s about supporting each  other. There’s a lot of mixed feelings around the gender equality and feminist movement which can divide men and women, which is why we felt it was important to share a message that it’s about supporting each other, which I think is the unique thing about our campaign.”

De Colling added: “We’ve made a lot of progress in removing gender bias, differences in pay gap, creating more opportunities for women and men to stand shoulder to shoulder. I was keen to make a piece people would watch and feel like they could acknowledge the subtle differences of the current gender divide but more so be a part of the message of acknowledging and supporting each other.

The thing that made this job so magic for me was looking around on set and  seeing such a passionate crew of women and men championing the message #BesideNotBehind – it was incredibly  fulfilling. Everyone involved has worked  around the clock to create the best film possible given the resources and  time. #BesideNotBehind gave us all an opportunity to expand our networks, learn from each other and  have a truly iconic piece to show at the end.”


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