Tea with the Dames

Befitting the Queen’s Birthday, we’re giving members the chance to win a double pass to Tea with the Dames (in NZ cinemas June 7), a unique celebration of the lives and careers of acting royalty Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright and Dame Maggie Smith.

Tea with the Dames invites you to spend time with these acting legends as they talk about their lives and their professional experiences across theatre, television and film. Directed by Roger Michell (My Cousin Rachel), the film includes a range of astonishing archive material. Candid, funny, caustic, irreverent, poignant and utterly engrossing, this unmissable release is proof that there is truly nothing like a Dame.

★★★★★  Wildly enjoyable – The Guardian

View the trailer

To enter the draw

Simply email admin@degnz.co.nz with your full name, postal address and the name of your favourite Dame.

Draw Closes: Thu 31 May, 9am

Winners will be notified Thursday.

Last updated on 5 June 2018

View from the Top banner

Thanks to the New Zealand Film Commission, I was fortunate to attend the Cannes Film Festival 2018 where hopes and dreams are realized or not, and was reminded of where we Kiwis sit in the global film industry with our 5 – 15 films each year—somewhere towards the back unless someone has been good enough to put themselves in the front row.

The film industry remains dominated by two territories—North America and Europe. In 2016, 2,123 feature films were produced in Europe alone, in the US 789, while the total worldwide for that year for the top 10 markets was approximately 7,973. India with its massive output including Bollywood films tops the list with 1,903. China is clearly a major player now, too, with 944 films, but it is still grappling with how to be most effective with its money and create films with international appeal.

Although Europe is a conglomeration of cultures, in fact in film they have a shared sensibility. European films dominated European sales agents’ catalogues at Cannes, although films from South America, Africa, and the Middle East vie for space as Europe looks to other territories for the next great filmmakers. Saudi Arabia has recently thrown its film doors open and both the commercial and cultural film sectors are queuing to get in.

It’s this attraction for the new that’s possibly one reason New Zealand has been thrust aside at Cannes. In many respects we’ve already had our time in the Cote D’Azur sun. Vincent Ward, Jane Campion and a couple of others preceded Christine Jeffs with Rain, which was the last NZ film selected for Cannes in 2001. A more likely reason is that we just haven’t had a filmmaker and film with Cannes appeal. That doesn’t stop us from trying, though.

Each year thousands of films including those from NZ seek selection at Cannes. It’s hard to get in and when films do, the filmmakers, their film bodies or investors, and their sales agents celebrate. Director’s Fortnight, International Critics Week, Un Certain Regard and the most prestigious of all, Official Competition, are the sought after sections. Repeaters who are Cannes darlings often dominate official competition. This year it was Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s turn to take the top prize, the Palme d’Or, with his seventh Cannes selection.

While we all dream of a film in competition, what most Kiwi filmmakers attending Cannes are doing there is hoping to secure international sales and distribution for films that have yet to be made. A fantastic script, unknown but talented director, internationally renowned cast, commerciality, festival potential—all or a combinations of these things are what sales agents are after.

Some seek films that are bright, full of hope, comedic, or genre, and exhibiting clear commercial potential. Others are attracted to the darker side, the auteur vision, the arthouse film that could break out, although it’s definitely harder to find sales agents for such films these days even though it’s what many Europeans are still making.

We are in a sub-category of our own at Cannes, like our Australians and Canadians colleagues, with our English language peculiarities that are neither definitively US indie or European arthouse. UK sales agents although part of the European makeup are obviously more friendly to English language films, but certainly are more driven by commerciality than their European counterparts. The same for those from the US.

Elevated genre is one way for us to break out, whether it’s horror, drama or thriller, but you can’t go past a great script whatever type of film you are pitching. It’s a matter then of finding a sales agent who loves the script as much as you do. But you’ve got to get them to read it first. To do that you and your project will be put through the wringer, sometimes gently sometimes not, to see if it meets that particular sales agent’s yardstick. And the yardsticks do differ.

One key ingredient that gets films made and into the market it seems to me is passion—The passion of the writer, director and producer that’s going to see them go the hard yards across many years to get their film up. And the passion that the sales agent and distributor must have to take a film on—it’s a tough environment for them these days and you hear of as many bankruptcies or close downs as you do successes. One sales agent I know told me that from Berlin in February to Cannes in May this year, he knew of four sales agents that went bust.

Filmmaking ultimately though is about hopes and dreams, whether it’s arthouse, tent pole or something in between. Every filmmaker understands this no matter what genre or budget they are working with. The big question we all confront sooner or later is whether our hopes and dreams can be realized or they just remain pie in the sky. And Cannes can help you find the answer while delivering the spectacle that makes it the most glamorous film festival around.

I highly recommend that anyone who wants to make a film go to Cannes. It’s fun, sobering, hard work, overwhelming, and it will break you out of that isolationist world that we all mostly operate in. And I suggest you go soon. If Cannes doesn’t adapt to the changing screen world, it could end up as just a fond memory of what it used to be.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 8 June 2018

Director Chris Dudman

Up-skill with this two-day practical guide to the directing process. 

The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ and Top of the South Film Production Society (TOTS) presents the first of two Top of the South Island Directors Toolkits with New Zealand director Chris Dudman.

This workshop will take place in Blenheim, with a second in Nelson scheduled for early August.

About Chris Dudman

Chris’ career has involved writing and directing short films, commercials, feature and series documentary and series TV drama. He directed short film successes THE GRAFITTI OF MR TUPAIA and CHOICE NIGHT, and later co-wrote and directed HARRY, the gritty crime drama series starring Oscar Kightley and Sam Neill. He wrote and directed THE DAY THAT CHANGED MY LIFE, the multi-award winning documentary about Christchurch’s devastating earthquake. He most recently directed two standalone episodes of James Patterson’s true crime anthology series MURDER IS FOREVER for U.S. company Stephen David Entertainment. Chris was also a longtime partner of and director at Auckland TV commercials company Robber’s Dog.

Directors Tookit

Chris will explore the directing process from his own personal experience on a variety of directing assignments from commercials to long-form documentary, from short film to dramatic television series. He will discuss the way he prepares (analyses scripts, casts, rehearses actors, storyboards), the way he directs actors and camera, and the way he works with editors and composers during post-production.

Taking a warts and all approach, he will use highlights and low-points as examples showing how he adapts this process to the various forms of the work he’s directing. In doing so he’ll touch on the differences between being a gun for hire and working on projects he’s instigated, on collaboration and compromise, on the director/producer relationship, on making decisions under pressure, avoiding pitfalls, the role of chance and luck…

His intention is to create a dialogue in the workshop – about process and what is really involved in directing as a career…

And, most importantly, why it has been worth it.

Sat 23 June, 9am – 5pm
Sun 24 June 9am – 4pm

Where: Marlborough campus, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), 85 Budge Street, Blenheim

Cost: Free
Class: 20 max

Blenheim Registration

Register by Wednesday 13 June, 4PM. Priority for Blenheim will be given to Marlborough TOTS Film Production Society members, as a result, Nelson TOTS Film Production Society members may be placed on a waitlist (Nelson members will be given priority for the Nelson workshop).

TOTS members: Fill in the form below and DEGNZ will contact you to confirm your place.
DEGNZ members: If you would like to attend, please email admin@degnz.co.nz to be placed on the waitlist.

These workshops are closed to TOTS and DEGNZ members only.


This event is brought to you by the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ and Top of the South Film Production Society, and made possible thanks to the New Zealand Film Commission.

Top of the South Society    NZFC


Last updated on 4 July 2018

Rehearsal & Performance logo

Rehearsal & Performance is a practical half-day workshop focused on developing directors and actors’ tools to build better director/actor relationships for on-screen results.

Guided by director/producer Simon Bennett, participants will explore a scene in groups (one director, two actors) in a safe and non-pressured environment. Lunch is provided.

Simon Bennett

Simon Bennett / photo courtesy of Amanda Billing

Simon Bennett has worked extensively as a stage and screen director and producer since graduating from Toi Whakaari in 1988. In 1995, he moved into television work: first directing, then producing Shortland Street.

In the years since, Simon’s directing highlights have included five seasons of Outrageous Fortune (for which he won an Achievement in Directing award in the 2007 Air NZ Screen Awards), Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business, The Almighty Johnsons, and Spies and Lies.

We are honoured to have Simon facilitate this workshop.

When: Sat 16 June, 9am – 2pm
Where: DEGNZ, Level 2, 66 Surrey Crescent, Grey Lynn, Auckland


Register your interest

Registrations close Tuesday 5 June, 10AM.

Spots are limited to four directors and eight actors. If your name is selected, DEGNZ will contact you directly to confirm your participation. Only members of DEGNZ and Equity NZ are eligible to register.


The selected directors and actors will be expected to do some script prep beforehand. DEGNZ will provide the scene in advance.


The Rehearsal & Performance series is hosted by Directors & Editors Guild of NZ with the support of the Equity Foundation and funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.



Last updated on 24 May 2018

Young Creators: Ready Set Network

“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Networking, however, can be an awkward business. Here’s an alternative: speed networking for Young Creators.

At this event, you’ll have the chance to make connections in a number of fast, informal 8-minute sessions, plus the opportunity to grab a drink and mingle at the end of the night. Meet potential collaborators, whether you’ve got a project to share or are on the look out.

This event is for directors, editors, writers and producers. Come prepared (we’ll send you tips and details ahead of time!).

Thu 31 May // 6:30pm – 8:30pm

West End Lawn Tennis Club
Cnr West End Rd and Fife St, Westmere, Auckland

DEGNZ Young Creators is a programme of events with a mission to inform and inspire younger or emerging directors and editors to build successful, sustainable careers in the screen industry.


TICKETS: Registration essential as tickets are limited! Ends Friday 25 May.

DEGNZ members – Free
Non-members – $5

This event is R18.

DEGNZ Member Pre-release: Ticket registrations for DEGNZ members opens on Tue 8 May, 2PM – 48 hours before the general release.


Last updated on 24 May 2018