Australians have taken steps this year to address the systematic problem of gender disparity in the local film industry. First we had Smart For A Girl, a contest run through Endomol Shine (one of Australia’s most successful media brands). It provided mentoring and pathways for entry-level screenwriters. Now we have the launch of The Big Pineapple competition.

The initiative is by Women in Film & Television (WIFT) and For Film’s Sake (FFS), and it moves past conversation towards action to bring more female-led films to an Australian audience.

The contest aims to change the environment in which it took the producer of The Dressmaker, Sue Maslin, and her stars Judi Davis and Kate Winslet, seven years to find financing for the film before its male leads, Liam Hemsworth and Hugo Weaving, were cast.

This is the competition’s inaugural year and it takes direct aim at the issue by putting up a $50,000 prize for emerging filmmakers. It’s a contest designed for teams, not individuals, and while it promotes female-led productions, the contest is not exclusively for women. Men can and are encouraged to enter, though they must only occupy one of the five production roles: writer, producer, director, cinematographer or lead protagonist. The four remaining positions must be filled by women.

It’s an interesting way to invert what is usually the norm. Teams submit a one-page synopsis for their proposed feature film. Then shortlisted submissions will be offered further development and feedback opportunities.

The overall winner will receive the cash prize to take their feature film from page to screen. It’s not just about the money, though: the winning team will also receive industry support, both during the development stage and for distribution.

Submissions close on March 31. More information here.