"Female driven stories do have a place on our screens."

Megan Riakos

By Megan Riakos

On 14 January 2014, I was in the midst of shooting the final week of my first feature film Crushed.  We had assembled an amazing team together for not much money, to complete the film in not much time.

On that same day Variety released an article titled ‘Employment Of Women In Film Production Dips Below 1998 Levels’.  It goes on to reveal that in the U.S. only six percent of features are directed by women.  SIX PERCENT!  Australia fairs a little better (but not by much) at roughly eighteen percent.

And it’s not just behind the camera where this is happening.  A survey published in the Hollywood Reporter shows that of the top one hundred movies, only fifteen percent had a female protagonist.

That is why I decided to self-fund the production of Crushed.  A director of my standing, not just as a woman, but as an emerging director in a crowded landscape, is swimming against the tide to direct a feature.  I decided that rather than wait for permission, I would forge ahead with a film with not one, not two, but three strong female characters.  Other than myself as the Writer/Director/Producer, the key creative team behind the film also included another female Producer and lead actress Sarah Bishop and a female Production Designer, Cate Rann.

We were able to attract a host of talented actors to the project such as Roxane Wilson, Les Hill, Helmut Bakaitis and Millie Spencer-Brown and now we have the makings of a strong female driven mystery thriller.

But that’s the problem, principal photography has been completed and the edit is underway, but we need more money to help complete the film.  Things like music, sound design and colour correction are vital parts of the process that we still need to fund, so we have created a Kickstarter campaign to help get the film to the big screen.

Kickstarter is an online crowdfunding site that enables the community to get behind a project and in return are rewarded.  In our case we decided to treat the campaign as an opportunity for the community to pre-purchase downloads of the film and tickets to screenings.  We wanted Kickstarter to help us build an audience around the film rather than just be a means of raising money and to help prove that there is a market for films like mine.

Actress Millie Spencer-Brown (who plays ‘Harriet’) with director Megan Riakos and Sarah Bishop.

I truly believe that a female voice must be heard within our society and the arts is a reflection of the society – what does it say when women represent such a small minority?  I’m not saying that everything I do as a filmmaker is explained by being a woman, without comparing myself to Julia Gillard, “It doesn’t explain everything, it doesn’t explain nothing, it explains some things.”

No matter what, Crushed will be finished: I am one stubborn woman.  But with more support behind the film, I have a greater chance of beating the statistics and proving that female driven stories do have a place on our screens.

In the words of Cate Blanchett at this year’s Oscars “…those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the centre are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.”

Megan Riakos is the Writer, Director & Producer of the feature film Crushed.   She has written and directed over a dozen short films, documentaries, music videos and commercials and has written several features, including Defeat, a political drama about a female U.S. presidential candidate, which was a Final Draft Break Script Competition semi-finalist.  She is currently in post-production on the thriller feature film Crushed set in the Mudgee Wine Country in Australia.

Crushed is the story of a young woman who returns home to her family vineyard after her father dies in an accident on the winery. But when his death is ruled a murder and her mother becomes the prime suspect she must uncover the truth.

The Crushed Kickstarter campaign has 7 days left to reach its target goal of $35,000 to get Crushed on the screen. There are a range of rewards for backers including tickets to the Mudgee vineyard premiere or Sydney screening, wine lovers packages, digital downloads of the film, merchandise packs, sponsors packages, or an opportunity to have a private Skype with members of the cast and crew including  lead actors Sarah Bishop & Les Hill from Underbelly & House Husbands! To pledge your support visit the Kickstarter campaign here, and to find out more about the film visit Facebook, and follow Crushed on Twitter or contact Megan Riakos directly via email at [email protected]