Kicking goals and building careers
Mustangs FC leads the way in starting important conversations and putting diversity and inclusion front and centre
Matchbox Pictures’ Mustangs FC leads the way when it comes to television shows starting important conversations and putting diversity and inclusion front and centre.
Over its three seasons, the comedy drama that follows an all girls’ soccer team as they navigate friendships, families, feminism and football hasn’t shied away from storylines that address the contemporary issues experienced by 9-13 year old girls today: mental health, body image, blended families, sexual orientation, disability and gender equality.
On top of this the Mustangs FC cast and crew is more than 60% female, the young leading cast represent a wide range of backgrounds including First Peoples, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan, Indian, Lebanese and Sudanese, and the first two seasons had a ratio of 3:1 for female directors.
Producers Amanda Higgs and Rachel Davis developed the series together after discovering a shared desire to create stories for girls that reflect their real lives and experience. For both of them, for a show with young women in the lead, it was enormously important to see women in charge behind the camera too and to have visible pathways to leadership across all roles.
“It was fundamental to the aspiration of the show, to have young women writing and directing a series about young women,” said Higgs and Davis.
“We’ve always maintained Geena Davis’ mantra ‘If she can see it, she can be it’. Visibility is key, as is championing the storytellers of the future. And it would remiss not to mention the amazing men who’ve worked alongside us, and who’ve championed what the show stands for as strongly as our leading women.”
In order to maintain a pipeline of female practitioners, the production actively developed new talent throughout all three series, teaming up with Film Victoria and the Australian Directors Guild (ADG) to offer placements and attachments across the departments.
“The great thing about making three series of 13 episodes is that there are very real and defined opportunities for emerging creatives to achieve their first television credit,” said Higgs and Davis.
“The other key factor in this commitment to giving opportunities to early career practitioners is the very deep well of experience in our writing, directing and production teams, who are not only able to support these opportunities, but enthusiastically champion them. It’s all about mixing the two to create a holistic approach to upskilling. It was a delight was to see how our young cast responded to the inclusion of emerging female creatives.”
Corrie Chen, who had undertaken three attachments before joining Mustangs FC, directed her first block of broadcast TV on the first series. She was nominated for an ADG Award for her work and has since gone on to direct episodes of Five Bedrooms and SeaChange.
Amie Batalibasi undertook a Film Victoria-supported director placement on series two and an ADG Shadow Director opportunity on series three which saw her direct a full episode.
“Taking the step from indie short films to television is a huge leap, but after completing a Film Victoria Director Placement on Mustangs FC in 2018, I was ready to step up and direct my first episode of TV on Mustangs Season 3 through the ADG Shadow Director program with mentor Roger Hodgman.
“The fact that Mustangs is written and produced by women, primarily directed by women, and there is diverse representation on screen – this is important to me as a woman of colour director making my way in this industry.”
And the list of emerging Victorian talent given opportunities on Mustangs FC goes on.
Sarah Freeman was a producers attachment on series one, an associate producer on series two and earlier this year travelled to Los Angeles to complete a six-month Film Victoria placement with Margot Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment, another production company known as a breeding ground for strong female talent and their stories. She is now producing her own comedy series for ABC and Netflix.
Across the three series Alice Jones moved from production secretary to script coordinator to key talent placement in the writers’ room, while Marisa Nathar’s Film Victoria-supported placement in the writers’ room on series two led to her writing a full episode for series three.
Marisa said writing female-driven stories on Mustangs FC was a dream come true.
“Being mentored and supported by producers Amanda Higgs and Rachel Davis, alongside a kickass team of collaborative writers, was a fantastic way to learn the writing process ‘on-the-job’ and a crucial stepping-stone towards writing my first episode for television. I feel proud to be part of a show committed to diverse representation both onscreen and behind the camera.”
Catch up on series one and two on ABC iView and don’t miss the kick off of series three on the ABC ME app and iView on December 31.
Find out more about our Industry Skills Programs for early to mid-career Victorian screen practitioners.