It’s Been A Big Year

It’s been a big year.

In the second year of our professional development programme we have run Collaborators Series with the Writers Guild, the Screen Composers Guild, the Screen Production and Development Association, the Film & Video Technicians Guild, and Ngā Aho Whakaari—a special highlight with renowned Australian Aborigine director Wayne Blair.

Our Rehearsal Room this year saw directors working with actors, facilitated by actor and director Rene Naufahu, director Kathy McRae, actor and director Oliver Driver, actor and acting coach Miranda Harcourt, and actor and director Jackie Van Beek.

Additional workshops in prof. dev. were the One-day Directing Actors Workshop with actor and director Ian Hughes, and the 2-day Director’s Toolkit workshop with top NZ drama director Peter Burger.

Special one-off prof. dev. initiatives we were involved in were the director attachments for Rene Naufahu, Regan Hall, Louise Leitch, Joe Lonie and Roseanne Liang on Ash vs. Evil Dead, the Casting Hothouse with Equity Foundation, and the 5-day Character-based Improvisation Workshop with director Rob Marchand and Leslee Udwin discussion and roundtable, both in conjunction with Script to Screen.

We launched our TV Drama Director Attachment initiative this year. It has seen actor and director Aidee Walker attach to SPP’s Westside and actor and director Matt Saville on Screentime’s Bombshell: The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. We are just about to announce who will spend eight weeks with Peter Burger as an attachment on Filthy Productions’ Dirty Laundry. With the ongoing growth in TV drama both domestically and internationally, we are particularly pleased at the guild with this initiative and indications so far are extremely positive all round.

One of our major coups of the year was getting Drive writer and director Paul Haggis along for our DEGNZ Selects event. Down here to shoot a branded short film, Paul kindly created time in his busy schedule to speak, and his knowledge and humour was extremely well received by all who attended.

In the middle of the year DEGNZ board member and editor Annie Collins ran our well received  two-day Editing Documentary Workshop. We unfortunately had to postpone our Drama Editing Workshop with Michael Horton and Jonathan Woodford Robinson, but this will come back in the first quarter of 2016.

On the mentorship front, Sundance Artistic Director Gyula Gazdag is working with director Tusi Tamasese. We will soon announce the documentary director who will be mentored by Canadian documentary filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, and early in 2016 we hope to have our second editor mentor secured and will make a call for applications then.

While we have a year left on our current professional development programme, there will be changes coming. The New Zealand Film Commission, who kindly fund our professional development programme, is reviewing professional development across the board. 2017 will see a new approach that reflects the changing dynamics of the industry and the roles we play within it.

On the advocacy front, we are working with We Create (former Copyright Council) to ensure our voice is heard in government about copyright, at the same time inputting directly into the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise/Ministry of Culture and Heritage Screen Sector Study on Copyright and Design Regimes. We submitted to the Exploring Digital Convergence Green Paper and the review of the Official Information Act.

We are now working very closely with the Australian Directors Guild in support of their efforts to secure retransmission rights, copyright and residuals for directors. For DEGNZ and its former embodiment as the Screen Directors Guild of New Zealand, addressing these issues has always been highly important. We see the next couple of years ahead as offering real opportunity for us to get some movement on these in NZ.

A lot has been achieved in 2015. I would firstly like to thank the membership. Your support through belonging to the guild is crucial to ensuring we continue to represent your interests well. If you believe we are doing a good job, please encourage your colleagues to join.

I also wish to extend my thanks to a special group of producers and executives: Rob Tapert and Chloe Smith, Philly de Lacey, Kelly Martin, and Steven Zanoski. These people see the need for experienced directors in the industry and came behind our attachment initiatives with cash.

Thanks for financial support must also go to the New Zealand Film Commission without whom we couldn’t deliver the breadth and depth of services we offer, and to NZ On Air who in their first ever professional development funding backed the director attachment initiative we took to them.

I must also acknowledge our sponsors/partners Pieter Holl & Associates, Seresin Wines, Andy Day, the Academy, Rialto, Event, Reading, and Hoyts Cinemas, the NZ International Film Festival and Documentary Edge, and our newest partner Resene. They kindly offers deals and discounts that allow guild members to get more for less.

Finally, a big thank you to the DEGNZ board. They are all volunteers with the industry at heart and directors and editors at the forefront.

This will be the last newsletter for the year, and it will be back in the second half of January.

May all of you have a great break and much success in 2016.

Meri Kirihimete

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director