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Celebrating Women

Womens’ roles in New Zealand society have come a long way. We were the first to give women the vote, we’ve had three female prime ministers and finally the Black Ferns have gotten professional contracts.

However, in many industries women do not receive equal pay (including the Black Ferns). There are few women sitting in governance positions in the New Zealand business world, and as we learned at the Sexual Harassment Workshop recently, the statistics on violence against women is horrific.

But in this week’s column I would like to help celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage, by highlighting some successes in and around our industry.

Before I do, though, I want to first acknowledge the country’s most well-known suffragette Kate Sheppard and some of her colleagues, including Margaret Bullock, Meri Mangakāhia, Ākenehi Tōmoana, Anna Stout, Elizabeth Yates and Polly Plum. To honour our past, NZ On Screen has released their Pioneering Women collection that celebrates women and feminism in New Zealand.

I know that the statistics for women directors in NZ are still poor, and we are addressing this, but female directors have made great contributions to New Zealand film and television, from Ramai Heyward to Jane Campion, long-time Guild supporter Gaylene Preston to the achievements of Niki Caro.

As in suffrage there are other less well-known women who have made their mark in the screen industry. I would firstly like to acknowledge those who have contributed to the Guild (DEGNZ and its predecessor SDGNZ) as board members. Apologies if I have missed you out, but our records are incomplete. If you are not included here but should be, please let me know so that I can update our files:

Kristina Anderson

Kezia Barnett

Pietra Brettkelly

Annie Collins

Anna Cottrell

Alyx Duncan

Annie Goldson

Shirley Horrocks

Janette Howe

Louise Leitch

Roseanne Liang

Zoe McIntosh

Briar March

Kirstin Marcon

Fiona Millborn

Diane Musgrave

Aileen O’Sullivan

Leanne Pooley

Rather than go into a screed of copy about other New Zealand women who have stood out or are standing out in and around the screen industry, I am providing links to articles that are available now online. You can learn about some of the wonderful NZ women whose contributions we can all acknowledge:

I’d also like to point to a number of those who have a big influence in the screen industry and show that women are sitting at many of our top tables:

Kathleen Anderson, Head of Scripted, TVNZ

Christina Asher, Chairperson, NAW

Rachel Antony, CEO, Greenstone

Cass Avery, Chairperson, S2S

Melissa Ansell-Bridges, Industrial Organiser, Equity NZ

Karen Baleski, Head of Entertainment Content, SKY

Esther Cahill-Chiaroni, ED, S2S

Jude Callen, TV Commissioner, TVNZ

Sandy Gildea, ED, SPADA

Philly de Lacey, CEO, Screentime

Ruth Harley, Chairperson, NZ On Air

Frances Morton, Head of Content, Vice

Annie Murray, Senior Commissioner, SKY and Prime TV

 

Kelly Martin, CEO, SPP

Juliet Peterson, General Manager Digital Content, TVNZ

Kerry Prendergast, Chair, NZFC

Cate Slater, Content Director, TVNZ

Alice Shearman, ED, NZWG

Annabelle Sheehan, CEO, NZFC

Karla Rogers, ED, SIGANZ

Erina Tamepo, ED, NAW

Patricia Watson, ED, WIFT

Jennifer Ward Lealand, President, Equity NZ

Sue Woodfield, Head of Commissioning and External Production, Mediaworks

Kathy Wright, Head of Digital Creation, SKY

Jane Wrightson, CEO, NZ On Air

This past week has been a celebration of women’s achievements, including the Women of Influence Awards where actor and acting coach Miranda Harcourt took out the award for Woman of Influence Arts and Culture.

But perhaps the last words can be left to Dame Patsy Reddy, former chairperson of NZFC and now the Governor General. In a NZ Herald article earlier this year, she emphasised that while women had made many gains, there is still a long way to go.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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Taking Action

On Wednesday evening, together with Ngā Aho Whakaari and the New Zealand Writers Guild, we had a two-hour workshop with Debbi Tohill, Executive Director of RPE (Rape Prevention Education) on Sexual Harassment and Disclosure.

This session had been run recently by Women In Film & Television but we felt it worthwhile to support another, considering the existing gender inequality issues of our time and the massive impact of #MeToo on our industry at large. The paradigm has shifted, and things will never be the same—nor should they be.

It’s essential, particularly for men at all levels of our industry, to examine what has brought us to where we are now and what we can individually do to aid and assist positive change.

DEGNZ already has a sub-committee in place to examine gender issues, discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying. It is made up of board members and directors Louise Leitch, Roseanne Liang and Michael Duignan.

The sub-committee has been engaging with the other guilds, the Screen Women’s Action Group (SWAG), and looking internationally to other screen industry bodies to assess what work is being done and what we can do to ensure equality and appropriate behaviour.

On the equality front, our Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator is a proactive step on our part with the support of NZFC and Vista Foundation to drive more female directors into sustainable careers. Eighteen talented women have been developed through this scheme so far.

Our TV Drama Director Attachment initiative, supported by NZ On Air, has already seen five of seven attachments go to women (one yet to be publicly announced). Two of those women have gone into full time work directing TV drama. We have also assisted other emerging female filmmakers into opportunities designed to further enhance their drama directing capability. There is still more for us to do here.

Education is a key tool the guild can employ in order to help confront discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying. The session with Debbi Tohill is the first of our efforts in this arena. We will be supporting initiatives with other screen industry bodies and doing our own work to transform attitudes and behaviours that are inappropriate to both women and men in the workplace.

I’d like to leave you with some statistics on sexual violence and sexual harassment that Debbi provided us:

  • There are an estimated 208,000 sexual violence offences committed against adults each year.
  • One in five female secondary students say they have had unwanted sexual contact from another person. For male secondary students, it’s one in twenty.
  • In reported sexual violence incidents, 95% of the victims are women.
  • In reported sexual violence incidents, 99% of the perpetrators were men.

On our website here you can find DEGNZ’s statement on sexual harassment and bullying with some options for assistance. The guild is also here to help should you require it.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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Correcting the Imbalance

Ten years of business-focused government policy is now seeing a correction taking place in the New Zealand labour market.

Health and education have been the focus of recent labour matters, but thanks primarily to Radio New Zealand, the independent contractor market is now in the spotlight.

RNZ has put considerable effort into bringing into the open the plight of courier drivers, who are forced to operate as businesses, buying their own vehicles, uniforms, and scanners yet being dictated to by the companies that contract them as though they were employees. Worse, after deducting all their expenses, many it seems are earning less than the minimum wage. John Campbell interviewed Minister for Safety and Workplace relations Iain Lees-Galloway on this here. RNZ offered CEO Mark Troughear of Freightways, who owns NZ Couriers, the chance to respond here.

Thanks, or no thanks to the Hobbit Law, all film workers are classed as independent contractors and thus prevented from negotiating as a group to improve their terms and conditions.

Now I am not comparing the terms and conditions of courier drivers with those of screen industry workers. We all know which lot is in a better place. But we also all know that in the domestic screen industry, particularly with digital content, the unscrupulous are taking advantage of screen workers.

First Union are taking up the cause of courier drivers as you can read about here. And it’s the guilds’ role to represent the interests of those in the screen industry.

DEGNZ along with the other guilds took part in the Film Industry Working Group to address our (DEGNZ’s) and the government’s concerns about both the Hobbit Law and the inability of screen industry workers to collectively bargain. In due course those recommendations should be made public. All the guilds worked in good faith on this and represented their memberships as they are expected to do. Guilds are after all essentially unions, although some officially are not, including us.

Until now, DEGNZ has not been a union, although it has been a question that the board has asked itself—Should DEGNZ unionise? In the last few months the board has looked into this carefully, and met with various parties to weigh up the pros and cons.

At a recent board meeting, the board unanimously voted “Yes” to unionisation. This coming Annual General Meeting the board of DEGNZ will propose to the membership for the Guild to unionise and ask for a vote on it.

In the lead up to the AGM we want to give the membership as much opportunity as possible to make their views known, ask questions and debate the merits of unionisation.

This is an important issue that we will ask all paid-up financial members to decide upon, so do let us know what you think. And please put the AGM, scheduled for Saturday 6 October at 10AM in Auckland, in your diary. We would like as many of you as possible to come and hear why the board supports this view, and to get behind whatever decision is made.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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Carving Out a Public Broadcasting Audience

New Zealand On Air’s Where Are the Audiences? 2018 Report makes for interesting reading.

If you haven’t already seen it, the key findings for the screen industry are:

  • Weekly audiences for traditional broadcast media are stable, and continue to deliver the biggest audiences.
    – But the gap to online video and SVOD is closing.
  • The weekly reach of SVOD has nearly doubled since 2016 – now reaching more than 6 in 10 people.
  • On a daily basis, linear TV has declined – driven by a fall in Sky TV penetration (Free-to-air actually grew 9%.)
  • Daily more people view videos on sites like YouTube and Facebook than read a newspaper.
  • On Demand viewing is stable but there’s a growing use of this as a content source, as opposed to catch up viewing.
  • New Zealanders still spend the most time each day on traditional broadcast media – 2.5 hrs watching linear TV, 1.5 hrs listening to radio, compared to 62 minutes on SVOD.
  • There’s significant behaviour difference between under 40s and over 45s, but the generation gap is closing as older New Zealanders adopt new tech.

So what does this mean for public broadcasting, particularly as it relates to TVNZ and Radio New Zealand?

As Sky subscriptions fall there has been a positive effect on free-to-air TV, particularly the daily reach of TV One. Conversely, the daily reach of TV2 and TV3 is declining dramatically, while Prime remains steady and Maori TV shows slight growth.

TV One is definitely the strongest TV brand and will, therefore, be the biggest revenue earner in the free-to-air space. Their On Demand offering is working, as attested to by the growth it’s achieving. Two though is languishing and looks to be going the way of Four, which is over and out, as does TV3.

TV One is the dominant free-to-air player as a commercial entity, much to the chagrin of Mediaworks CEO Michael Anderson who is doing his best to convince anyone who will listen that TV One should be turned into a public broadcaster. He knows the writing’s on the wall if he doesn’t get the changes he wants. But should One become the public broadcaster? Or would it be better to be flicked while its star is at least glimmering. There again is the elephant-in-the-room question of what to do about a public screen broadcaster.

Radio NZ is holding its own as a radio station. While Radio NZ’s daily reach is dropping, its audience share remains strong and it’s the single most popular radio station. RNZ is also increasing its online video content offering, which has been strengthened by the extra funding for commissioned programming recently announced.

Does TVNZ’s On Demand success hold the answer? As would be expected, SVOD’s weekly reach is up dramatically according to the report, and TVNZ On Demand is showing growth, not just for Catch Up but also as a content source.

If Radio NZ had a digital On Demand platform that offered a significant content source for ‘free-to-air’ programming and built its eyeball numbers to rival or surpass TVNZ’s On Demand, then we’d be in a place where quality programming could access NZ On Air funding without the commercial imperative that controls what does and doesn’t get made currently.

I’m clearly better on the questions than the answers, but I’m certainly not the only one trying to figure out how to take advantage of the global changes sweeping the TV industry that still haven’t really arrived here.

If you’ve got some bright ideas, let me know.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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Movin’ and Shakin’

The New Zealand International Film Festival is upon us again. And there’s an even bigger selection of New Zealand films on offer, both feature-length and short, than I’ve encountered before—18 offerings, four of which are made up of programmes of short films. This is a fantastic selection—a high number from DEGNZ member directors and editors.

As Bill Gosden, the festival director pointed out in his speech celebrating the 50th birthday of the festival, it couldn’t have existed without the passion of film lovers who have nurtured it to the point where it has become what NZIFF is today—a truly great International film festival, showcasing the best of New Zealand and international film.

As always I encourage you to get along and watch films to encourage independent filmmaking everywhere.

In other news, Clare Curran is certainly the minister who keeps on giving, unfortunately not so much in the funding realm. The latest in the Radio NZ saga is a measly $4.5 million dollars to RNZ from the $15 million in the May Budget allocation for public media. NZ On Air gets just $4 million, while a new Innovation Fund to be jointly managed by Radio NZ and NZ On Air gets the lion’s share at $6 million.

It must be disturbing for Curran to hear from chair Michael Stiassny of the Ministerial Advisory Group she appointed that not even they support a fully funded RNZ+ television station. What you get—or not—for the price of a cup of coffee.

In a related development, Head of NZ On Air Jane Wrightson responded to an article in Newsroom by Dr Bryce Edwards of Victoria Univeristy, who singled out our current dual funding model of contestable and fully-funded public broadcasting for criticism. In her reply on the same platform Wrightson said that “In the 21st century media landscape it’s highly unlikely that one media provider model will fit all, and so a combination of ring-fenced and contestable funding is a clever response by a small country where media cost structures are always under pressure.”

There are supporters and detractors of the dual funding model approach. Whatever your opinion on the matter, I think we all need to acknowledge the incredible work NZ On Air has done in seeking to adapt to the rapidly changing screen industry while being incredibly underfunded.

Thankfully, we now see broadcasters slowly being willing to take risks with the arrival on air of Taika’s and Jemaine’s Wellington Paranormal, and two new dramas commissioned and screening at a later date: The Bad Seed out of South Pacific Pictures, and Fresh Eggs from Warners NZ. And we are starting to see more locally driven international efforts bear fruit with Screentime’s copro Scandi – NZ noir Straight Forward now in post and destined for TVNZ.

And talk about change, there sure as hell seems to be a lot going on at the Film Commission—a new pou whakahaere in the wonderful and talented Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble, new job opportunities with the departures of Development Executive Karin Williams and Investment Executive Chris Moll, and obviously a change of approach that always comes with a new CEO, this time with the arrival of Annabelle Sheehan who has been with us seven months now. Watch this space for more to come.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director