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I do hope everyone had a restful and restorative Christmas and New Year’s break, because here we go again.

Like 2021, a false sense of security across the summer has been ended this year, quicker than last, with COVID bashing down the doors once more.Thankfully, production has been rolling in Auckland since the move to Orange and a number of shows are in production or have completed. We are all wiser about how to operate in a COVID environment, but the new strain means new adjustments for all.

The Government gave up on the elimination strategy last year and we are now faced with having to live with COVID in our personal and work lives.

At the Guild, we have conducted our risk assessment for the office and our events, which were severely impacted in 2021. A number of our workshops require close proximity between actors, whether it be Rehearsal & Performance, Directing In the Intimate Zone, or Rehearsal Dynamics. Others we are able to conduct in an online environment—not ideal but possible—like the Directors Masterclass, Director’s Toolkit, Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator, and the Table Reads that we do with NZWG.

We have reviewed all of these and our other one-off events and will be rolling out our Omicron-adjusted workshop and event programme from February. Keep an eye out for a new series of workshops that will look in detail at our template film agreements for directors (under development) and editors (already available), so that you can better understand and negotiate your contracts.

In the meantime, we all need to prepare for home isolation with the Omicron variant of COVID. If you haven’t already done this, you’ll find the Government’s information page on how to prepare your household for COVID here and the updated guidelines for life at Red here.

For those contemplating production, ScreenSafe continues to provide a comprehensive set of guidelines and advice for productions here. Continue to check regularly as this will update with Omicron and Rapid Antigen Testing.

We could well see for NZ productions the introduction of strict Zones on set with Omicron. If you want to understand what shape this could take, see the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and Teamsters document on COVID protocols on set, including how their Zone system works.

As always, the guilds are always contactable and ready to assist in these trying times. If you are having an issue, need some advice or assistance, or require some help, as members you can reach out to me or the ED of the organisation that represents you. So don’t hesitate.

Although we continue to be challenged by the pandemic we can still count our blessings that Aotearoa New Zealand hasn’t yet been as severely impacted as many other countries. It’s still summer. And with the acceptance that COVID is here to stay, we have more freedoms than in past systems used to control the spread.

Stay safe, stay well, and enjoy yourself wherever and whenever you can—it’s good for your wellbeing.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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What a horrible bloody year it’s been for the New Zealand screen industry.

Lockdowns interrupting domestic and international production here. Local films having their releases shortened or delayed. The New Zealand International Film Festival cancelled in Auckland. The LOTR TV series moving to the UK. Cowboy Bebob cancelled after one season. The list of woes goes on.

At the Guild, COVID has impacted significantly on our professional development programme, although we have managed to do some talks and workshops online. At least we have still been able to make progress on members’ rights, the Screen Industry Workers Bill, and the Reform of Vocational Education amongst other things, but it’s fair to say we, and I’m sure many others, are Zoomed out.

A lot of us have gone to the wall mentally, emotionally and financially in 2021. And as we close out the year we have the threat of the Omicron variant to prolong our COVID concerns. But as the US, the UK and Europe face massive rises in infection rates and increases in deaths, I believe we can still consider ourselves fortunate. Yes, some things could have been done better here in the face of this pandemic, but with our now close to 90% nationwide vaccination rate for those 12+, we seem to be in good shape to square off against the viral uncertainties of 2022.

Christmas and New Year are almost upon us and the festive cheer in some ways has never been more welcome.

It was any eye opener for me, having been isolated to the rural outskirts of Auckland for the last few months, to be in Ponsonby for Xmas lunch yesterday with the DEGANZ team. Aucklanders are out. Dollars are flowing into businesses and out into the regions, hopefully unaccompanied by COVID.

Film and TV production is back up, with crew looking to be busy as the year ends and through the summer.

NZFC told us today that a good bunch of our films—features and shorts—have had international success this year. Further, domestic production will be way up next year, thanks in part to the Premium Production Fund, and the level of international production spend forecast in NZ for 2022 looks set to match the average of previous years.

As you all hopefully take a restorative and enjoyable break across the weeks ahead, I’d like to thank you for your ongoing support of DEGANZ, whether as a member or collaborator with us in the guild’s purpose and activities. We couldn’t do it without you.

Meri Kirihimete!

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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What’s happened to the TVNZ – RNZ business case that Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi commissioned to be ready for mid-year, with presentation to Cabinet by the end of 2021?

You might have, like I did, missed the article about it in Stuff in early November.

It’s been delayed.

Sure, COVID has made it difficult for everyone to stay on track, including Government. However, Kevin Kendrick, the TVNZ CEO has now officially resigned, after a stellar performance taking TVNZ from a loss making entity with no dividend to Government, to an organisation making a profit. No mean feat in a streamer-challenged world.

Kedrick is certainly bailing at the right time for his career, leaving the task of navigating the difficult future to whoever gets the job next.

You’d hope that the TVNZ board is giving due consideration to whatever the new organisation will look like as they work through the job applicants. But do they actually know what’s coming right now? And how many of them will still be sitting on the board once the organisation gets rejigged anyway? They have been a corporate, profit-driven board for so long it’s hard to imagine most of them will retain their positions, or want to, even though TVNZ is supposedly going to maintain some elements of advertising revenue generation into the future.

The changes at Three have undoubtedly made things more complicated for our national broadcaster. Three has gone from being permanently on the edge of bankruptcy to being owned by the largest media organisation in the world, in Discovery. And in the process of setting up they’ve hired former General Manager of Digital Content at TVNZ, Juliet Peterson.

Peterson is now Senior Director, Programming (ANZ) at Discovery, while Vicky Keogh has gone from Commissioner Factual and Unscripted Comedy at TVNZ to the role of Executive Producer, Factual Lead, Discovery (ANZ).

The new TVNZ CEO will have a tougher playing field to square off on with two new free-to-air channels—sorta—in Gusto and Rush, Discovery’s existing digital channels already here, and the launch of streaming service Discovery+ next year.

TVNZ has already locked into its line-up for 2022, as has Three. Advertisers and the industry were given insights at both broadcasters’ programme launches in recent weeks. Reality featured strongly at TVNZ and Three, as did the emphasis on local content, although scripted was notably missing from Three’s presentation.

But it was the announcement from Kris Faafoi that I was more interested in, right now. What shape is TVNZ – RNZ going to take? What’s it going to mean for local content? And will it become a real public broadcaster? The answers are clearly not going to be in the Xmas sock this year.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

My first job right out of film school was to take over an overnight unpaid assistant editing job on a low budget feature… and I had no idea what I was doing.

Film school gave me friends in the same industry, and a good grasp on how to use Avid and what editing was about creatively, but at the time there was little instruction on the technical aspects that the assistant editor role required. I think we only had one day on how to assist!

I was given a short overview of the job by the previous assistant and was left to it. It was a little bit of a trial by fire but (thank goodness for the internet) I was able to google answers to just about everything I had questions for.

I communicated with the editor via a notepad, and he offered something amazing—if I wanted to cut some of the rushes, he would watch and give me feedback. So I spent half of the night importing, syncing and organising, and the other half cutting! It was an excellent learning experience and when we eventually met in person, he told me that he always offered that to his assistants, but nobody ever took him up on it! My next three projects were with the same editor, since at the time nobody else knew who I was.

My first job outside of my editing mentor came through Women in Film and Television (WIFT). I met a producer at a networking event who needed an assistant. My following job also came through attending a WIFT meeting, though kind of sideways… I had been offered a data wrangling job via email but the message went to my spam folder! Luckily the person who messaged me saw me at a WIFT event and asked me about it.

My first job, the unpaid overnight one, was in December 2009. The data wrangling job came in July 2010, and it allowed me to finally quit delivering pizza and move into the film industry full-time.

Kerri with her first editor carpark as an editor on The Brokenwood Mysteries / Photo: Supplied

My first bit of advice, and I know this may be super obvious, is to make sure you do your job reliably. You don’t have to go overboard, but producers and editors expect you to get your work done. Make sure you know what they need from you—and do it well. If you make their working life easier, they’ll call you again.

I assisted full-time from 2010 until 2016. During this period I cut as many side projects as possible in my spare time. At the beginning, most were unpaid (or lightly paid) passion projects from other creatives who were also in the early stages of their careers. It took a lot of energy, and it sucks that most of these early jobs are unpaid, but working on so many short films and music videos really honed my storytelling skills. I should also shout out the DEGANZ editing masterclasses! I had the opportunity to attend two of them and they were so valuable in helping me upskill.

Making the move from assistant to editor was really scary. I was at a point in my assisting career where I was very busy. I was also occasionally getting offers for small editing jobs that I had to turn down because I was already occupied by assistant work. You could make a great career out of assisting, but that’s not what I wanted, so I had to stop taking assistant work and focus on selling my skills as an editor. My first year exclusively editing was slow, and as a result I took a big pay cut. But I kept pushing and slowly built a good reputation as an editor and started getting return calls.

My advice for people entering the industry is to say yes to opportunities as often as you can without burning yourself out. Work hard, practise your craft, and be kind. Be comfortable turning down work that won’t take you where you want to be. And let the people you work with know what your goals are—you’d be surprised how much support you will find!

I’ll always be grateful for the willingness of New Zealand editors to be mentors, to give their time and to uplift anyone who wants to give it a go. I hope I can pay it forward!

 


About Kerri Roggio

Kerri is an Auckland-based editor. In the last few years, she has edited the comedy horror film DEAD; on TV series Mystic (season 2), My Life is Murder (season 2) and The Brokenwood Mysteries (seasons 4-7); as well as short films, documentaries and music videos.

kerriroggio.com

How I Got Started in the Industry is a new guest blog series from the Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand (DEGANZ). Our members reflect on how they made their way into assistant editing, editing, and directing—with no two stories the same. They offer advice for those starting out. Get in touch with admin@degnz.co.nz if you’re a member and would like to share your story.

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I normally go surfing and garden as my stress release mechanisms. Neither have been of much help with all the rain we are having (I live in the Waitakeres) and the West Coast of Auckland is offering up limited opportunities at this time. Thank goodness the dams are full, though.

Today, however, I went looking for a laugh because I thought it would be beneficial to have some light relief amongst the collective depression many of us are experiencing due to this latest lockdown.

There’s a lot of gallows humour out there about COVID. I certainly chuckled but it’s not ray-of-sunshine stuff, so passed on the idea of including anything I came across, copyright issues aside.

Something I have done in the past for LOL entertainment is to watch Live At The Apollo on YouTube. Britain’s comedic best never fails to get me going.

This lockdown around, I’ve been watching more YouTube videos for distraction and learning than ever before. I’ve also been surfing vicariously on it. My virtual holiday to Bali and the Mentawais in Indonesia every day gets me over the West Coast doldrums. I now understand why YouTube is up there with TV1 and Netflix as one of the most popular choices for Kiwis 15+.

I was talking to a director yesterday about another matter and they told me they’d taken up drawing as a means to combat the funk. This person isn’t the only one who’s said in recent times that their creative output for work has suffered. And I’m struggling myself to get excited about ideas that would normally have me fizzing and putting fingers to keyboard.

The frustration with our current situation is palpable. All you have to do is watch/read/listen to the news. I’m often reminded, though, how fortunate we continue to be in comparison to the US, the UK and even Australia. I listen to a number of international podcasts and the presenters have essentially been in lockdown and nowhere near their workplaces for the last two years. Granted, our lockdown is stricter… but still.

What I’m clearly talking about here is mental health and wellbeing. Mine, yours, everybody’s. The longer this goes on the greater the need for us to look after ourselves and others in ways that lift our mental, and our physical, states.

Laughter may not be the panacea for all our psychological ills, but it is good medicine. So find a way to bring a smile, have a chuckle, or get yourself rolling on the floor in paroxysms. You’ll feel better for it. For those who need real help, here is a list of resources on offer.

In the meantime… Knock, knock!

Best response wins a Do The Right Thing campaign bag from us and will go in the next newsletter.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director