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Film Industry Working Group Recommendations Should Include a Wider Group of Screen Workers

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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

Time For A Paradigm Shift

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View from the Top banner

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

Recommendations for screen sector workplace relations unveiled

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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/info-services/employment-skills/legislation-reviews/film-industry-working-group

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

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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