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At the Annual General Meeting on 6 October, the Guild and its membership voted on two remits from President Howard Taylor for DEGNZ to unionise and to affiliate with the Council of Trade Unions (CTU).

The motions passed and DEGNZ will unionise and affiliate with the CTU.

Essentially nothing will change.

We will still be the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ, but we will be constituted as a union and no longer as an incorporated society.

This brings us into line with our guild colleagues in Australia, Canada and the U.S., all of who are unions.

When DEGNZ was formed in Wellington in 1996 as the Screen Directors Guild of New Zealand, it was felt that directors weren’t well represented and needed a body that could best speak to their particular needs. Later of course, editors felt the same way and asked to join with us.

Our desire then as now is still the same: to ensure the creative, cultural and financial well-being of New Zealand directors and editors.

Well-known producer John Barnett in a Showtools interview not so long ago pooh-poohed the idea of DEGNZ becoming a union, saying that we’re in a talent-based business and he knows a few directors with vineyards and editors working fulltime, so a union’s no answer for anyone, not even those who don’t have an excess in talent. This was rather disingenuous of John because unions aren’t just about ensuring the wellbeing of the most talented. Rather, it’s the everyday working directors and editors who most need to have their welfares safeguarded and who are often most exploited, particularly those in the first few years of their careers. John mooted the idea of directors and editors using agents, but agents are talent-based and don’t take on everyone who comes through their doors. It is also the Directors Guild of America, a union, that has ensured a number of those vineyard-owning directors are well compensated, have pension plans and healthcare, and could afford to buy those vineyards.

Unions in New Zealand don’t have the power they once had and possibly nor should they. However, their roles are to represent their memberships to the best of their abilities. DEGNZ has been doing this for directors and now editors since its inception. It will continue to do so as a union.

On Wednesday Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway announced the recommendations from the Film Industry Working Group of which DEGNZ was a part. These recommendations may well lead to the Guild taking on the role of a negotiator in collective bargaining.

In our 2017 survey of directors and editors, which was independently conducted by Trace Research, at least 84% of respondents were interested in DEGNZ negotiating collective agreements with minimum rates and conditions. As a union, we will be better positioned to do so effectively with CTU support than if we had to shoulder the responsibility on our own.

The long and the short of it is: nothing much has changed and yet, everything has. As a union, DEGNZ will be well able to continue its role of representing the best interests of New Zealand directors and editors.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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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

Our Masterclass and DEGNZ Selects events with Niki Caro were a fantastic success. Niki spoke generously about her experiences and offered plenty of solid advice and practical tips, which we’re sure will stay with everyone in the audience. Thank you, Niki!

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"The Vinters Luck" Screening - 2009 Toronto International Film FestivalDirectors & Editors Guild of NZ (DEGNZ) is thrilled to invite applications from experienced film directors with a feature film project in or near to advanced development or ready for production to apply for an International Director’s Mentorship with acclaimed filmmaker Niki Caro.

Niki Caro, one of New Zealand’s most successful film directors, needs little introduction, with credits including Whale Rider, North Country, A Heavenly Vintage, McFarland USA and The Zookeeper’s Wife to her name.

The overall intention of the mentorship is to inspire a NZ director, demystify the international film industry and offer genuine insight into creative process and engagement with the industry as a whole, while providing a solid platform upon which to build an international career.

This mentorship is designed to assist a director with project development, career planning, creative relationships, new practices in audience engagement, and relationships with producers and agents.

As Niki is a busy working director there is a small window of opportunity to start this mentorship with her. The successful applicant must be available for initial meetings during the week of 6 June 2016. Further mentoring will continue for the term of the mentorship over the rest of 2016.

To apply, please provide:

• Maximum one-page letter about why you should be chosen and what you hope to gain from the mentorship.
• A narrative feature film script and one-page synopsis for the project you wish to apply with, which must be in or near to advanced development or ready for production.
• Up to 3 examples of past narrative dramatic work (not showreel) that have had festival success.
• Applicants MUST be available for initial meetings the week commencing 6 June.

This initiative is NOT intended for applicants with projects in very early development. We will not offer script notes or enter into correspondence with applicants who are not selected.

Applications should be submitted electronically to admin@degnz.co.nz as ONE PDF file. Please include links in the document.

Only FULL DEGNZ members may apply. If you are not a member and wish to join, you can do so here.

Applications must be received by DEGNZ no later than 9am on Friday the 13th of May.

This initiative is brought to you with the financial support of the New Zealand Film Commission.

Masterclass

DEGNZ invites you to register your interest for up to eight seats in a Directing Masterclass with acclaimed filmmaker Niki Caro.

The workshop will take place from 1pm-5pm, Wednesday 8 June in Auckland. DEGNZ members free, non-members $50.

Please register your interest by emailing your CV (including links to your work) to samantha@degnz.co.nz by 9am, Friday the 13th of May. Successful applicants will be notified shortly thereafter.

This initiative is brought to you with the financial support of the New Zealand Film Commission.

We invite you to register your interest for a Directing Masterclass with Hungarian film director and Sundance Artistic Director Gyula Gazdag.Gyula has a number of feature films to his credit including A Hungarian Fairytale (1987), which won the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno Film Festival, was named one of the year’s 10 Best Films by the Village Voice and Best Feature Film of the year by the Hungarian Film Critics Awards. It also screened at 20 film festivals worldwide, including the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. Gyula’s other feature films and documentaries have received wide acclaim. In addition to this, he’s worked as a professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and has served as the artistic director of the Sundance Filmmakers Lab since 1997. He was a long-time advisor to the Binger Institute, and is currently also a mentor at Berlinale Talents.The workshop will take place from 1pm-5pm, Thursday 10 March in Auckland. DEGNZ members free, non-members $50.

Please register your interest by emailing samantha@degnz.co.nz by Wednesday February 24. Successful applicants will be notified shortly thereafter.

Some travel funding will be available for those seeking to attend from out of town.

This initiative is brought to you with the financial support of the New Zealand Film Commission.