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Screen Industry Workers Bill

The Screen Industry Workers Bill

We are just over a week away from the Monday 25 May deadline for public submissions to the select committee.

In order to see pay and working conditions improve for you and others working in the industry, we need every DEGNZ member to have their say on the Screen Industry Workers Bill that Government has introduced to Parliament. It’s vital for us to see this Bill go through as it will allow DEGNZ to collectively bargain for minimum rates and terms and conditions for all directors, editors and assistant editors.

Consider this: in its first reading in the House, 63 MPs voted for the bill, and 57 voted against. Your submission will help MPs understand what it’s like working in the industry and why this law change matters.

The law change would replace the controversial ‘Hobbit Law’, an amendment rushed through Parliament that classified all film workers as ‘independent contractors’, unable to bargain collectively and receive other benefits associated with being an employee.

To help you make your submission, we’ve published information and a submission template on this campaign page.

Hobbit Law Cartoon

DEGNZ

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.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

View from the Top banner

We’ve got the elections this year and that means everything is up in the air.

Simon Bridges says he’ll likely reverse the TVNZ-RNZ merger if National gets back into power.

The Film Industry Working Group’s recommendations around collective bargaining for the screen industry could go out the window.

NZ On Air could get an increase in funding… Or not.

There is some certainty in the media space, though. My predictions:

TVNZ will continue to lose money as long as it stays the way it is, no matter how good a job Kevin Kendrick does (and by all accounts he’s doing a good one).

TV3 will face the same uncertain future it has since it started in 1989, even with a new owner.

The NZ Screen Sector Strategy 2030 will… do something good, bad or indifferent (industry bets seem to be on either of the latter two at the moment).

NZ On Air will have a new CEO shortly—whether it’s a great opportunity for someone new to make a mark or a hospital pass will come clear by the end of 2020.

And the rest of the world, including Australia, will keep capitalising on the demand for internationally-focused TV drama produced locally.

At DEGNZ, it’s very much steady as she goes.

We have a strong board in place who are highly proactive around key issues for us and the industry.

Our focuses strategically will be copyright, collective bargaining legislation, post-production workflow and training, and keeping an eye on the vocational education work being done by various entities, which will get a lot of attention in 2020. There are, of course, always unexpected developments that need a response and we’ll stay alert to these as the need arises.

As a union now affiliated to the Council of Trade Unions, we will have an opportunity to sharpen our skills and knowledge with them in preparation for negotiations should the collective bargaining legislation go through.

We’ll continue to provide membership services including our professional development programme, thanks to the financial support of NZFC, the Vista Foundation, the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society, accounting firm VCFO, and with the support of Resene, Event Cinemas, Rialto Cinemas, Dominion Law and Handy Training Online.

We’ll maintain our partnerships on various activities with the NZ Writers Guild, Equity NZ, SCGNZ, NZAPG, SPADA, WIFT, Ngā Aho Whakaari, NZCS and look to forge a relationship with the newly-formed PASC.

DEGNZ is committed as we always say to ‘the creative, cultural and financial well-being of New Zealand directors and editors’.

With the shake-ups in our domestic screen industry scene including more SVODs coming online, and on the international stage with Brexit, the U.S. elections, and the novel coronavirus, we hope that you will join with us as we head into what is undoubtedly going to be a tumultuous 2020.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

 

 

 

 

 

DEGNZ

For Immediate Release

17 June 2019

The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ welcomes the Government’s initial response to the Film Industry Group (FIWG) recommendations, but feels that the proposed changes should apply to protect a wider group of workers in the screen industry.

“As currently outlined, the narrow application of the changes leaves the majority of directors and editors and many other screen workers out of collective bargaining,” said DEGNZ President Howard Taylor. “Those it applies to are generally already the most well paid with the best terms and conditions.”

“Explotiation of screen workers including directors and editors occurs most frequently in the online, reality and factual screen sectors. Under the proposed carve-out, new and mid-level practitioners will not be protected by any minimum standards, and will continue to suffer from poor working conditions and renumeration”

In a recent survey, Creative New Zealand and New Zealand On Air identified that the median personal annual income for creative professionals is around $35,800 – compared to $51,800 for all New Zealanders earning a wage or salary. When you take away other sources of income, the median income from creative work is only $15,000.

DEGNZ fully supports the two bodies joint strategic initiatives to improve the wellbeing of creative professionals, namely:

  • Fair reward – working towards:
    • ensuring lower-paid creative professionals are paid in line with technical professionals
    • lifting pay to the point where creative professionals start to feel it is a fair reward for their work.
  • Sustainability – working to make the careers of mid-career and established creative professionals more sustainable through more continuous creative endeavours.
  • Emerging creative professionals – working with the sector (including peak bodies and guilds) to find better ways to support creative professionals at the start of their career.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with Government during drafting of the legislation to expand the coverage of the changes” Taylor added. “Bringing as many screen workers as possible into collective bargaining would help to build a sustainable and vibrant creative sector in New Zealand.”

ENDS

For more information contact:

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director
Directors & Editors Guild of NZ
+64 21 659 950
tui@degnz.co.nz

The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ is a not-for-profit membership organisation that represents Directors and Editors in the New Zealand screen industry. This includes Directors and Editors of feature drama and documentary; television drama, documentary and factual programmes; short films; video art; animation; commercials and web content.

DEGNZ’s two primary roles are advocacy and professional development. We:

  • are dedicated to promoting excellence in the arts of directing and editing.
  • foster collegiality and unity within the screen industry.
  • promote members’ creative and economic rights.
  • work to improve industry working conditions and remuneration.
  • offer professional advice and information on contracts and industry standards and practice.
  • offer professional development events, networking opportunities, career advice, dispute resolution, mentoring, workshops, training, discounts and regular news bulletins for members across all levels of expertise, from novices to seasoned professionals.

DEGNZ is a voice for Directors and Editors in influencing policy in the interest of our members. We do this through our membership of the pan-industry group SINZ (Screen Industry New Zealand), and by making submissions to government and public officials.

Internationally, we work co-operatively with other guilds and we belong to the International Affiliation of English-Speaking Directors’ Organisations (IEASDO), and the Alliance of Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Writers And Directors (AAPA).

DEGNZ is Auckland-based with an office in Grey Lynn.

Contact Details:

Directors & Editors Guild of NZ
Level 2, 66 Surrey Crescent
Grey Lynn
P.O. Box 47-294, Ponsonby
Auckland
+64-9-360-2102
admin@degnz.co.nz
http://www.degnz.co.nz
www.facebook.com/degnz
www.linkedin.com/in/degnz
@degnz_online

DEGNZ

Media release

17 October 2018

A recommended model to allow collective bargaining for contractors in the screen sector has today been unveiled by the Government-convened Film Industry Working Group.

The recommendations, which will now be considered by Government, offer a new path forward for the screen sector, following 2010 law changes to workplace relations in the industry.

“This has been an exercise in collaboration and compromise, and we believe it sets the screen sector on a much stronger footing going forward,” says Group Facilitator Linda Clark.

“The screen industry is unlike any other. The nature of filming means producers require certainty of cost and flexibility of conditions in order to complete a production on time and on budget. Project durations are often fixed, and one worker can be involved in multiple productions during a year.

“The working group is proposing a model that reflects the sector’s uniqueness. It retains parts of the current law, but also allows contractors to bargain collectively and it establishes principles that promote strong, productive relationships. To keep up with current trends, it also applies more appropriately to the overall screen sector, rather than film productions alone.”

The recommendations include:

  • keeping the part of the current law that says film workers are only employees if they have a written employment agreement. This provides the certainty of cost and flexibility of conditions needed in the screen industry.
  • allowing contractors to bargain collectively at an occupation level within the screen industry, such as amongst actors or technicians. The process will be supported by principles, set requirements, and a dispute resolution system. Any resulting collective contracts should apply to all contract work in that occupation.
  • establishing principles that govern relationships in the screen industry, including good faith, protection from bullying, discrimination and harassment, reasonable termination of contracts, and fair rates of pay.
  • applying the model to all screen production work, including film and television, to accurately reflect the industry in New Zealand. The screen sector is increasingly fluid for workers and producers, due to changes in technology and viewing habits. Many workers frequently move between the two, and projects increasingly do not fall neatly into either the ‘film’ or ‘television’ productions.

Ms Clark says the recommendations have the full support of all members of the working group.

“As a sector, the group’s members are committed to a vibrant, strong and world-leading screen industry. All of the members valued the opportunity to work together constructively to develop a model that works for the sector.

“We look forward to the Government’s response.”

The working group’s full recommendations are available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website at https://www.mbie.govt.nz/business-and-employment/employment-and-skills/employment-legislation-reviews/workplace-relations-in-the-screen-sector/background/

The Film Industry Working Group was convened by the Government earlier this year. Its members are:

  • Alex Lee, Film Auckland
  • Alice Shearman, New Zealand Writers Guild
  • Augie Davis, Stunt Guild of New Zealand
  • Barrie Osborne, film producer
  • Brendan Keys, Weta Digital
  • Erina Tamepo, Ngā Aho Whakaari
  • Melissa Ansell-Bridges, Equity New Zealand
  • Michael Brook, Regional Film Offices New Zealand
  • Paul Mackay, BusinessNZ
  • Richard Fletcher, Screen Production and Development Association
  • Richard Wagstaff, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
  • Sioux Macdonald, Screen Industry Guild
  • Tui Ruwhiu, Directors and Editors Guild of New Zealand

[ends]

For further information, contact:

Linda Clark
Facilitator, Film Industry Working Group
linda.clark@kensingtonswan.com
027 490 7942

Melissa Ansell-Bridges
Director, Equity New Zealand
melissa.ansell-bridges@actorsequity.org.nz
027 360 1980

Richard Fletcher
Co-President, Screen Production and Development Association
richard@libertinepictures.com
021 655 339