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Some of you may be wondering what we have been up to in the last two to three weeks, so I thought it time to update you all.
Rather than make an effort only under the DEGNZ banner, we quickly decided to join with many of the other guilds, industry organisations and some companies to come together as the Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group. I joined the Action Group and in the last two weeks I have been a part of meetings with TVNZ, Mediaworks, Maori Television, Sky, NZFC, NZ On Air, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment pushing to get development and production funds flowing out to industry.
I have also participated in multiple internal Action Group meetings. We have set up and are working on a number of workflow groups designed in the short and medium term to help get the sector working again, and to plan for the various scenarios that may eventuate. You can see the work going on here. I, Felicity Letcher of Main Reactor and David Brady who is currently doing work for ATEED are preparing the business case for the Group, so that we can attract desperately needed funding to execute some of the Group’s initiatives.
Rather than flood your Inboxes with messaging from DEGNZ, we have tried to keep our communications to those that are really pertinent and possibly helpful to members, and encourage you as much as possible to go to the COVID-19 Action Group website for highly valuable information: www.screenindustrynz.co.nz
As an affiliate to the Council of Trade Unions (CTU), DEGNZ is under the umbrella of their efforts to protect workers and their rights during this difficult time. I have been participating in multiple CTU meetings where we have been able to have a voice in the efforts the CTU is making with Government to get various types of support including on the wage subsidy, hopefully rent relief and other initiatives.
I am currently working with the other two unions in the screen sector, the New Zealand Writers Guild and Equity New Zealand, preparing for submissions on the Screen Worker Bill now in Select Committee. Thankfully the deadline was pushed from early April to early May because of the COVID-19 crisis, which has given us more time to prepare.
This Bill is the outcome of the work all the screen sector bodies did during the many months of discussion we had in the Film Industry Working Group, which resulted in recommendations to the Government. It’s vitally important for us to see this Bill go through as it will allow us to collectively bargain for minimum rates and terms and conditions for all directors, editors and assistant editors. You will hear from us shortly on this as we will be asking individuals to make submissions as well and have been preparing materials to help you.
Internationally, tomorrow I will have the second of two meetings within the last two weeks with the heads of the American, Canadian, UK, Irish and European Directors Guilds as we all grapple with how to deal with the COVID-19 crisis affecting all our members. This is essentially an information sharing exercise out of which we hope for some concrete initiatives to come. I was also in touch on the weekend with our colleagues in Writers & Directors Worldwide and the Alliance of Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Writers and Directors for essentially the same purpose.
While the above has been a massive workload across the last two weeks, we have also been moving as much of our professional development online as we can. At the start of the lockdown period, we issued a call for the Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator for 2020, which will take place over Zoom. We ran a Young Creators session with commercial video production company Chillbox Creative on Facebook Live last week. You can catch-up on the Q&A here. We will complete our Directors Toolkit with Peter Burger online this weekend too, which was interrupted by COVID-19. DEGNZ will continue to put out calls for various other workshops and initiatives over the next three months.
Finally, to help with mental health and wellbeing, we introduced a Membership Holiday for people suffering financial hardship and cannot afford to become members or renew their membership. We launched DEGNZ Play to give members a creative outlet during lockdown and continue to assess what else we can do. We are open to ideas — if you do, get in touch with me directly.
I received a suggestion from a member that prompted us to compile a database of DEGNZ editors who have editing equipment and software that allows them to work from their bubbles. The response has been great so far. The database will be pushed out to the sector as there may well be work opportunities.
We are all facing this difficult time together and united we will more effectively improve the situation for everyone. DEGNZ will continue to focus its efforts on behalf of members through the COVID-19 Action Group as this is the most efficient way for us to achieve outcomes. An example of this is the SPADA online interview with Annabelle Sheehan of NZFC and Cameron Harland of NZ On Air, which put forward many of the Action Group’s discussions.
The kaupapa of DEGNZ – to ensure the creative, cultural and financial wellbeing of our members – remains the same. From time to time, I will share further updates with you on the work we are doing.
Stay safe, be kind, stay at home, break the chain.