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Movin’ and Shakin’

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The New Zealand International Film Festival is upon us again. And there’s an even bigger selection of New Zealand films on offer, both feature-length and short, than I’ve encountered before—18 offerings, four of which are made up of programmes of short films. This is a fantastic selection—a high number from DEGNZ member directors and editors.

As Bill Gosden, the festival director pointed out in his speech celebrating the 50th birthday of the festival, it couldn’t have existed without the passion of film lovers who have nurtured it to the point where it has become what NZIFF is today—a truly great International film festival, showcasing the best of New Zealand and international film.

As always I encourage you to get along and watch films to encourage independent filmmaking everywhere.

In other news, Clare Curran is certainly the minister who keeps on giving, unfortunately not so much in the funding realm. The latest in the Radio NZ saga is a measly $4.5 million dollars to RNZ from the $15 million in the May Budget allocation for public media. NZ On Air gets just $4 million, while a new Innovation Fund to be jointly managed by Radio NZ and NZ On Air gets the lion’s share at $6 million.

It must be disturbing for Curran to hear from chair Michael Stiassny of the Ministerial Advisory Group she appointed that not even they support a fully funded RNZ+ television station. What you get—or not—for the price of a cup of coffee.

In a related development, Head of NZ On Air Jane Wrightson responded to an article in Newsroom by Dr Bryce Edwards of Victoria Univeristy, who singled out our current dual funding model of contestable and fully-funded public broadcasting for criticism. In her reply on the same platform Wrightson said that “In the 21st century media landscape it’s highly unlikely that one media provider model will fit all, and so a combination of ring-fenced and contestable funding is a clever response by a small country where media cost structures are always under pressure.”

There are supporters and detractors of the dual funding model approach. Whatever your opinion on the matter, I think we all need to acknowledge the incredible work NZ On Air has done in seeking to adapt to the rapidly changing screen industry while being incredibly underfunded.

Thankfully, we now see broadcasters slowly being willing to take risks with the arrival on air of Taika’s and Jemaine’s Wellington Paranormal, and two new dramas commissioned and screening at a later date: The Bad Seed out of South Pacific Pictures, and Fresh Eggs from Warners NZ. And we are starting to see more locally driven international efforts bear fruit with Screentime’s copro Scandi – NZ noir Straight Forward now in post and destined for TVNZ.

And talk about change, there sure as hell seems to be a lot going on at the Film Commission—a new pou whakahaere in the wonderful and talented Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble, new job opportunities with the departures of Development Executive Karin Williams and Investment Executive Chris Moll, and obviously a change of approach that always comes with a new CEO, this time with the arrival of Annabelle Sheehan who has been with us seven months now. Watch this space for more to come.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Ni Hao Taiwan

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The New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) took an official delegation to China and Taiwan in June of this year, and I was fortunate to be invited along to Taipei for the Taiwan leg as the ED of DEGNZ.

There was a strong indigenous focus to the visit with the New Zealand Commercial Investment Office (our government’s official representation there) and the NZFC organising a Matariki Festival with a number of events for the Taiwanese Film Industry, and public screenings of some New Zealand films.

On show were Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Born to Dance, and My Wedding and Other Secrets, with director Tammy Davis and DEGNZ board member and director Roseanne Liang along to introduce and do Q & A’s for their films. Also attending were writer and director Michael Bennett, representing Ngā Aho Whakaari, and playwright and screenwriter Briar Grace-Smith.

Taiwan has 11 officially recognised indigenous tribes and there is a very strong link between the Taiwanese indigenous peoples and Māori, with everyone acknowledging whakapapa through our DNA connections. This connection has received official acknowledgement with the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New Zealand signing a document entitled “Arrangement on Cooperation on Indigenous Issues”. This will establish cultural and “people-to-people” connections between Taiwan’s indigenous peoples and New Zealand Māori in order to promote mutual understanding and friendly relations.

This was my second visit to Taiwan, following my time there in October of last year to attend the Asian Producers Network conference. I was once again struck by the friendliness of the people, particularly the strong and positive response by the indigenous locals to anything and anyone Māori. There was even a Māori cultural group made up of ex-pats out of Hong Kong to give the various events some distinctive Aotearoa New Zealand flavour.

As part of the effort to develop bonds between Taiwan and New Zealand, the NZFC and the Taipei Film Commission announced a Professional Sreenwriters Exchange. Under the exchange one professional screenwriter from Taiwan will travel to New Zealand and one professional screenwriter from New Zealand will travel to Taiwan for at least a month, in order to strengthen cultural ties and promote greater cooperation between the film industries on both sides.

The exchange is intended to occur on an annual basis and is aimed at applicants who have experience writing a minimum of one feature film script that has been produced as a feature-length film. They also need to have either direct personal experience or a strong interest in Māori culture and/or the Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan.

I lived in Japan for a long time and have visited China a couple of times and many Southeast Asian countries repeatedly. Of them all, I feel that Taiwan is at the moment perhaps the most proactively open to doing coproductions with New Zealand. While the budgets there aren’t big with US$1 million being the average film budget and an almost purely commercial focus on box office, Taiwan I think offers great opportunity for filmmakers who want to work with Asian partners … with the right story.

On our delegation were some producers who are already engaged with Taiwan on projects, looking to leverage off a Taiwan-NZ connection, or working with Taiwan to access Mainland China.

Official activity aside, Taipei has great architecture, galleries and museums, outdoor activities and fabulous food. And wouldn’t you know it, after delegates found various ways to wing their way there via stopovers in Singapore, Hong Kong or Brisbane, Air New Zealand opened up direct flights to Taiwan after our visit.

I guess you can’t have it all.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Insights from Niki Caro

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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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DEGNZ Selects with Niki Caro

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In addition to a mentorship and masterclass, the Director’s & Editors Guild of NZ will hold a special DEGNZ Selects event with renowned NZ director Niki Caro. The discussion and Q&A will be moderated by director Roseanne Liang and will cover Niki’s career and films, including box office success McFarland, USA and The Zookeepers Wife, starring Jessica Chastain and Daniel Brühl, currently in post production.

Seats are limited, so you must register your attendance on Eventbrite. Please remember to cancel your seat if you can no longer attend.

When: Wednesday June 8, 6pm for a 6.30-7.30pm discussion

Where: Horse & Trap, Upstairs function room, 3 Enfield Street

Cost: DEGNZ members free, non-members: $5

DEGNZ Presents: A Mentorship and Masterclass with Niki Caro

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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.