/News 16.03.23


As the newly appointed Head of Production at Consolidated Media Services, Naomi Cleaver is a highly accomplished executive with decades of experience and a proven track record of success in the international and Australian film industry. Along with her passion for promoting gender diversity and representation, Cleaver is committed to empowering women in the industry and encouraging them to remain confident, courageous and optimistic even in the face of the industry’s gender imbalance.

“I think there’s definitely more of an openness to having women in leadership roles in film and television,” she says. “It no longer feels like you’re constantly the only woman in the room. That still does happen, but there is change.” 

It’s fair to say Cleaver has been part of the change herself – one of Australia’s most successful producers, her recent credits include the large-budget series for Universal Television and Matchbox Pictures, La Brea (2021) and the Australian-Chinese feature film, The Longest Shot (2018), which premiered on 40,000 screens throughout China.

The WAAPA Arts Management graduate has held key roles on other successful productions such as 2019’s highest Australian box office earner, Ride Like A Girl (Co-Producer) and ABC TV’s highest rating drama, also in 2019, Mystery Road 2 (Line Producer). 

Cleaver has joined Melbourne-based film & TV finance and production group, Forte Corp Holdings and straddles its Consolidated Media Services and Forte Corp Pictures subsidiaries as Head of Production. Headed by CEO Craig McMahon, Forte Corp Holdings is proud to include women in other key roles. Currently they include General Manager Alicia Graham, formerly Regional Director of global production agency eg+ Worldwide, and Simonne Overend as Consulting Head of Development, formerly Essential Media’s Vice President of Scripted Television for the US.

Consolidated Media Services is a turn-key solution offering production supervision and physical production services for international production companies wanting to film in Australia. Cleaver is viewed by Australia’s federal and state film funding bodies and global completion guarantors as an asset to any production and is regularly referred by state funding bodies to international production teams wishing to film in various states in Australia.

Accomplished she may be, but Cleaver regards mentoring and sharing her knowledge with women as one of the true delights – and duties – of working within the industry and makes it her mission to keep the message positive.

“I absolutely believe that there’s been no better time for women in the film and television industry than right now. Obviously there is still a long way to go, there’s no doubt about that. But I believe we no longer have to pretend that we’re not who we are. In the past, there has been this unstated rule that women had to be more masculine than men to get along. Now, I think women are genuinely seen as being a vitally important part of the industry in terms of their voice and their style.”

Naomi Cleaver, Head of Production at Consolidated Media Services

She also does acknowledge the existing need for gender balance efforts, such as Screen Australia’s Gender Matters task force, which has a KPI of having 50 per cent of the key creatives across all projects that receive Screen Australia development and production funding to be women, over a three-year-average. 

“It’s an interesting time, because, to some degree, my point of view is that we still need these slightly artificial mechanisms in order to get women into power. But as more women ascend, the need for such things will dissipate.”

Cleaver points to the US as the beacon leading the way, where Pearlena Igbokwe is Chairman of the Universal Studio Group (Universal Television, Universal Content Productions, Universal Television Alternative Studios and Universal International Studios) and Erin Underhill is President of Universal Television. 

Igokwe is the first woman of African descent to head a major US television studio. “This is not lip service. She is the best person for the job,” says Cleaver, a proud Gumbaynggirr woman, who is also passionate about diversity.

For Cleaver, the changes in the industry are clear from her own experience. In the early days of her career, she regards herself as fortunate to have worked with some of the powerhouse female producers of the time, including Sue Maslin. She says learning from those women who had “an incredible work ethic” and were prepared to do everything, “from sweeping the floors up” was a gift. 

However, fortunately, expectations are different now, and roles are more specialised. Cleaver states while women in the industry should work as hard as they see fit, they should understand and set their boundaries. 

“I particularly love showing women that you can have a family outside the industry because that was a big thing when I was younger, and I looked around and I didn’t see that. There was this notion that you must work so hard as a woman, just to prove your mettle. And then there was an assumption that once you’d had a kid, you weren’t coming back. That has definitely changed.”

So, what’s Naomi Cleaver’s advice for women, whether starting out or established in the industry? 

“My advice is, don’t be fearful. It’s fundamentally about being yourself. The authentic self trope has been thrown around a lot. But I think this is an industry that calls for us to actually show up as our authentic selves. Also, when an opportunity comes to you, and the first thought that you have in your mind is, ‘I couldn’t possibly do this’, shut that thought out.”

Naomi Cleaver, Head of Production at Consolidated Media Services

“When I am mentoring other women, I just find that so many have got the ability to do it, but they hold themselves back going, ‘I couldn’t possibly do that’. So, I always say, ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen?’

“If someone says no, it’s not the worst answer to get. No is the second-best answer. Don’t be afraid of the no.”

Naomi Cleaver, Head of Production at Consolidated Media Services

For the record, she says “maybe” is the worst answer; but even then, she encourages women to be brave. 

“The statistics still say that everything is incredibly imbalanced in terms of gender,” she says. “But we’re getting there. So perhaps don’t see those numbers as completely disappointing. Know that the numbers are not where we want to be, but they’re also not where we were.”

Written by: Julietta Jameson

Want to know more about Consolidated Media Services and how the team can help your project?

Contact Alicia Graham; 
[email protected] 
or visit cm.services