Holiday Viewing – Check Us Out on Youtube

Finally got some free time over the holiday season? Revisit or catch up on some of our guild events from the year on our DEGNZ Channel, which is currently live. Here’s a small selection you might like:

Film Talk: Q&A with Geoff Murphy on his seminal Goodbye Pork Pie.
The Collaborators Series: Lee Tamahori and Robin Scholes – From Once Were Warriors to Mahana
DEGNZ Selects: In conversation with Niki Caro
– and more!

We’ll be adding more vids in 2017 so make sure you subscribe.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

From the team here at DEGNZ, we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic festive season. Thank you for all your support during 2016.

Our office will be closed from 23 December until Monday 9 January.
We look forward to seeing you in 2017 for another great year!

 

Been There, Done That

As 2016 draws to a close it’s time to look back and prepare for 2017.

First item on the agenda is my editorial of two weeks ago titled ‘It’s Up To You (Unfortunately)’. Some people mistook this to mean that the guild won’t go into bat for you when there are issues. Not true. I had hoped my mention of the effort we went to in regard to the appalling terms and conditions on some productions being produced for Māori TV with Te Māngai Pāho funding (some of which I did not write about) was evidence that we intervene when necessary. And as I also mentioned in No. 3 of my points in regard to what to do with a contract presented to you, you can bring it to us. And if there are real issues with the contract, we will take them up with the producer or production company.

Copyright has been a biggie here at the guild, particularly this year. We are fighting for directors to get copyright in audiovisual production and cinematographic film as they have in many other countries around the globe. When you have copyright, you have a better opportunity to earn revenue for your creative effort beyond the actual production phase. And as the author (not yet recognised either) of the production you deserve it. One of the avenues we work through on this is We Create (former Copyright Council), a body that represents the interests of many organisations in the creative sector. Separately and with We Create, this year we made representations to Government as they investigated the role of copyright and design in the creative sector. You can read the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment review here.

2016 saw the end of our original three-year programme of professional development thanks to the New Zealand Film Commission. In 2016 we were able to draw for our membership on the expertise of directors Niki Caro, Australian Rachel Perkins and Canadian Jennifer Baichwal, editors David Coulson, Australian Dany Cooper and American Doug Blush, Sundance Artistic Director Gyula Gazdag, cinematographer Alun Bollinger, and a host of other talented Kiwis who have given their time and expertise to help advance your craft skills and knowledge. The year ahead will see more of the same, once again thanks to NZFC.

Our efforts to open the doors for directing in TV drama with our attachment initiative has seen two male and three female DEGNZ members observing and directing on episodes of drama series or one-offs: Matthew Saville, Aidee Walker, Jamie Lawrence, Helena Brooks and Cathy McDonald have all had placements, and we will announce one other early in the new year. We look forward to seeing more of these directors’ work on the small screen. NZ On Air has kindly funded our TV drama directors initiative again for 2017.

Our Women Filmmakers Incubator is halfway through its approximately yearlong course, and so far it has provided plenty of stimulation for our participants. Our hope is that it will fast track our filmmakers, providing them with insight and knowledge that will enable them to make good decisions about their projects and careers.

The Incubator is the first of the guild’s practical initiatives designed to help address the gender issue, which has really come to the fore in 2016. Various other approaches have been implemented around the world to deal with gender inequity in the film industry. At home, NZFC has made some moves with a second year of a gender specific award, an unofficial equity policy around talent development, script development and production funding, and the backing of our Incubator. Their statistics, announced at the Big Screen Symposium were encouraging, but expect more on this next year. I had the pleasure of meeting with Australian producer Sue Maslin in November at the SPA – Screen Forever conference. Sue produced the very successful The Dressmaker, directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse. Her take on gender inequity in film here.

At the Film Commission, Dave Gibson has been in place for three years now and things have certainly changed in his time. Whether or not you like the direction the NZFC is going in, Dave has made it very clear what direction that is, and that’s a good thing.

There have been some great critical and commercial local box office successes in the last three years: Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Tickled, Poi E, Free In Deed, Chasing Great, Mahana, Born to Dance, A Flickering Truth, The Ground We Won, 25 April, What We Do In The Shadows, Housebound, The Dark Horse, The Deadlands, Fantail and others. Where the line is drawn with these films between Dave Gibson and past CEO Graeme Mason due to long lead times is debatable, but we can celebrate their successes none the less. There’s certainly an obsession now both domestically and internationally with people in the industry for the next Wilderpeople. We may just have to wait for Taika to get around to it. When you look at the figures for the NZ box office earnings in 2016, you can see why. It’s depressing to say the least to see the local box office almost exclusively dominated by US studio films. There is no consolation that it’s the trend globally, even in France.

                                                  TOP 25 FILMS AT NZ BOX OFFICE 2016
(As of 14 December)

                 Film                                                                           NZ$                                   Genre

1. Star Wars: the Force Awakens 14,630,909 Action, Adventure, Fantasy
2. Hunt for The Wilderpeople 12,181,512 Adventure, Comedy, Drama
3. Finding Dory 7,079,648 Animation, Adventure, Comedy
4. Spectre 6,240,375 Action, Adventure, Thriller
5. Suicide Squad 5,331,314 Action, Adventure, Fantasy
6. Deadpool 5,187,330 Action, Adventure, Comedy
7. Hunger Games: Mockingjay 5,175,477 Action, Adventure, SciFi
8. The Jungle Book 5,038,731 Adventure, Drama, Family
9. Captain America: Civil War 4,873,481 Action, Adventure, SciFi
10. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice 4,828,479 Action, Adventure, SciFi
11. The Secret Life of Pets 4,221,920 Animation, Adventure, Comedy
12. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them 4,093,982 Adventure, Family, Fantasy
13. Zootopia 3,867,374 Animation, Adventure, Comedy
14. Bridget Jones’ Baby 3,439,598 Comedy, Romance
15. Doctor Strange 3,223,748 Action, Adventure Fantasy
16. The Revenant 3,113,551 Adventure, Drama, Thriller
17. The BFG 3,096,791 Adventure, Family, Fantasy
18. Jason Bourne 3,004,682 Action, Thriller
19. The Lady In The Van 2,734,063 Comedy, Drama
20. X Men: Apocolypse 2,684,281 Action, Adventure, SciFi
21. Me Before You 2,363,754 Drama, Romance
22. The Monkey King 2 2,227,352 Fantasy
23. The Conjuring 2 2,215,562 Horror, Mystery, Thriller
24. Ice Age: Collision Course 2,183,649 Animation, Adventure, Comedy
25. Kung Fu Panda 3 2,074,038 Animation, Action, Adventure

NB: Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Finding Dory, The Secret Life of Pets, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Doctor Strange and Pete’s Dragon are still in theatres.

NZ On Air now has a new and streamlined funding strategy in place after a very quick round of consultation. They are still getting lambasted for their drama funding decisions, and seem to be trying to make up for it in the low-cost web series space both with ideas and gender. But a $100,000 webseries budget is a bit different to a $7 million drama one. It is in a tough place, though. NZ On Air hasn’t had a budget increase in nine years and it’s at the mercy of broadcasters who decide what’s going to get made for broadcast. Everybody including NZ On Air is looking to the online space for freshness and innovation, but the revenue model still isn’t there. And that’s not the panacea anyway. The Danish public broadcaster DR has proven with The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen that you can take risks and earn rewards in a non-commercial broadcast environment if you make the commitment. Commerciality seems to kill innovation not breed it in our advertising-driven public broadcaster model. Now that Broadcasting is no longer a Ministerial portfolio, we could be up for more woes in the NZ TV sector in the year ahead. Will we as Screenz editor Keith Barclay mooted in his latest e-news see the merging of NZFC and NZ On Air in 2017?

2016 has been the year of the streaming player Netflix. They are firmly cemented in the production and distribution landscape, and a staple of the NZ screen consuming diet. Their acquisition and production might is immense, from Oscar fodder like Beast of No Nation to Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down and now The Crown. You can’t talk to a NZ TV producer these days who isn’t scheming to sell something to Netflix. Together with Lightbox, Neon and now Amazon Prime, Netflix dominates the screen content landscape, at least amongst particular demographics. I was at an event recently where a broadcaster asked for a show of hands from a small group of filmmakers for those who watch free-to-air TV—nobody put their hand up. Yet free-to-air audiences in NZ are still big, as NZ On Air’s 2016 audience survey attests. But the changes in the screen industry won’t let up.

AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) are the new buzz acronyms. At every conference or market I’ve been to this year in Europe, the US, Australia and here, AR and VR are being touted as the next big thing. The only examples I’ve experienced have been VR. And I’ve yet to come across anything that’s delivered more than novelty value. But there’s always next year.

2016 has been a very buoyant year for the screen industry. Domestic production levels have essentially stayed the same. There has been a lot of international film & TV production in New Zealand, thanks to the incentives. When speaking to one of the main crewing companies a week or so ago I was told that 80 per cent of the people on their books were on jobs. Commercials filmmakers are busy, and branded content is still on the up. Inquiries at NZFC for international projects are steady, and there are a number of big projects confirmed: Ash Versus Evil Dead 3, Peter Jackson’s Mortal Engines with Christian Rivers at the helm, The Shannara Chronicles, and Ava Duvernay’s film A Wrinkle In Time for Disney.

We may well see more of an Australian invasion in 2017. Matchbox and Seesaw have set up here, and the Australians are very keen on our incentives for TV. Matchbox has been shooting the second series of Wanted in Queenstown, and SPP has the third series of their NZ – Aus copro 800 Words with Seven Productions well in hand. There is the possibility of a yet-to-be officially announced series in the offing from Seesaw, which will likely be shot here.

At the guild, our long-serving president Peter Roberts has stepped down after nearly four years to be replaced by Wellington-based director Howard Taylor. Peter served the guild well during some tumultuous times and proved an ever-present resource for the guild and the membership, and we thank him for it. Howard is a highly experienced director (and former editor) who, living in Wellington, gives us a stronger presence with government and the funding bodies as well as an ear on the ground with our Wellington colleagues. We said goodbye to board members Richard Riddiford and Costa Botes and thank them for their efforts, and welcomed Alyx Duncan to the board, which now has equal gender representation.

Thanks for your support in 2016.

Next year DEGNZ will undoubtedly see more of the same challenges and some new ones. We remain committed to ensuring the creative, cultural and financial wellbeing of our members. We are here to serve your needs and available to talk, meet and take up issues on your behalf, so get in touch if you need to.

Have a safe and enjoyable break, and see you all next year.

Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te Tau Hou

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

DEGNZ Board Member’s Short for 2017 Sundance

KICKASS KIWI ACTION SHORT FILM ‘DO NO HARM’ SELECTED FOR PRESTIGIOUS SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2017

A Kiwi-made action short film will have its World Premiere in January at the prestigious 2017 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The festival received almost 9000 short film submissions from around the world, and Do No Harm was one of the 68 selected. The film is the first and only New Zealand film to be selected for this year’s Sundance line-up, and is in good company with the short film directorial debut of Kristen Stewart.

Kiwi-Chinese screenwriter and director Roseanne Liang has made the jump from comedy webseries ( Flat3, Friday Night Bites ) and romantic comedies (My Wedding and Other Secrets ) to kickass Hong Kong-style action in this latest film.

Produced by Hamish Mortland, and executive produced by Tim White (who also exec produced the Richie McCaw doc o Chasing Great, The Dark Horse, and the upcoming Pork Pie), the film was funded through the Premiere Pathways Fund of the New Zealand Film Commission, a fund specifically for short ‘proof-of-concept’s for feature projects. The team hopes to leverage the success of the short film prequel to attract interest in an associated action fe ature film project called B lack Lotus.

Hong Kong actress Marsha Yuan stars with Jacob Tomuri, a Kiwi actor who is perhaps best known as the stunt performer for Tom H ardy in b lockbuster hits T he Reven ant, Legend and Mad Max: Fury Road. Jacob takes on both stunt and acting duties in the film, where he plays a blue-collar hitman tasked with finishing a job.

http://www.sundance.org/blogs/news/short-film-program-announced-for-2017-festival

INFO IN SHORT:

Title: Do No Harm
Synopsis: 3am. 1980s Hongjing. In an aging private hospital, a single-minded surgeon is forced to break her physician’s oath when violent gangsters storm in to stop a crucial operation.

Written and directed by ROSEANNE LIANG (Flat3, Friday Night Bites, My Wedding and Other Secrets)
Produced by HAMISH MORTLAND
Executive Produced by TIM WHITE (Pork Pie, Chasing Great, The Dark Horse)
Starring MARSHA YUAN & JACOB TOMURI (Kiwi Actor, Stunt performer for Tom Hardy in The Revenant, Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road)

 

ENDS

It’s Up To You (Unfortunately)

In the past couple of weeks I have been contacted twice about director terms and conditions. The first was from a director who had worked on a number of projects that required out of town travel and no allowances were paid for per diems, accommodation or mileage for the use of a personal vehicle on the job.

The second was from a director disturbed about the rates being offered for a contract directing position, which from the director’s perspective devalued the creative contribution they would make as an experienced director.

As we all know and I’ve said this before, NZ is a deregulated labour market and in the screen industry all negotiations over contracts are done on an individual basis. We are unable to collectively bargain at this time to set rates and terms and conditions, and any guild standard contracts are used on a voluntary basis by production companies (and usually adapted).

Each individual must try to set the terms and conditions under which they will work. In such an environment, the individual is at a distinct disadvantage.

On the DEGNZ website, we have a guide to pay rates for directors and editors. We are revamping one by one our outdated standard contracts, which is a very slow and involved process. We look to have the first new one available in the first quarter of 2017.

The Blue Book, which is a guide to terms and conditions set by the NZ Film & Video Technicians Guild, is the defacto standard for screenworker contracts in New Zealand.

Funding contracts from the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air expect producers to adhere to the guidelines in the Blue Book.

Te Māngai Paho, the Maori screen funding agency, is the only major screen funding body that does not reference the Blue Book in its contracts. This essentially allows unscrupulous production companies working with TMP funding to avoid what are generally accepted as fair terms and conditions for screenworkers, and has I believe institutionalised what I term the ‘poverty production’ levels of a number of Māori production companies making projects for Māori Television. DEGNZ has specifically requested to TMP that their contracts include a clause requiring producers adhere to Blue Book T & Cs and been turned down.

Essentially contract negotiations fall to you, so here’s what you should do:

  1. Read your contract it before you sign it.
  2. Check the Blue Book here to see what standard terms and conditions are if you don’t know them.
  3. If you don’t understand the contract or are uncertain about it, get a knowledgeable friend, your guild, or your lawyer to read it and discuss it with you.
  4. If there are specific items you want addressed, request amendments, additions or deletions.
  5. If you remain unhappy with the contract terms on offer, decline the work if you can afford to do so. (By accepting, you essentially endorse the conditions.)

John Key resigning is not going to make any difference to NZ labour laws anytime soon.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director