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MEDIA RELEASE
MONDAY 23 MARCH 2020
For Immediate Release

In response to the immediate impact of COVID-19 on the New Zealand screen industry, the sector has today announced the formation of the Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group and a screen-specific online information hub.

While the indeterminate hiatus of a number of large international line productions has already resulted in job losses, many essential New Zealand productions continue to strive to keep cast and crew safe at work, whilst ensuring their productions remain operational.

Now, more than ever, the screen industry needs to work cohesively for the benefit of the sector at large. While progress continues on the Screen Sector Strategy 2030, the Strategy Facilitation Group has acted quickly to establish the Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group to address the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry. This pan-sector team comprises many key screen industry guilds and organisations, as well as major stakeholders.

The www.screenindustrynz.co.nz website will act as a one-stop hub to assist screen producers and industry workers find screen-specific health and safety resources, wage and earning subsidy assistance and information, key updates on COVID-19 as well as relevant news and updates from screen guilds and industry organisations.

Currently, the key focus for the wider industry is the health and safety of those working on domestic productions and it is vital that all productions in New Zealand adhere to Government advisories and safety measures. Currently, the key focus for the wider industry is the health and safety of those working on domestic productions and it is vital that all productions in New Zealand adhere to Government advisories and safety measures. ScreenSafe, the industry’s health and safety advocacy group, has added two documents on the website, Covid-19 Health & Safety Policy and Covid-19 Contact Declaration Form*.  These documents are intended to give production companies and heads of departments guidance and forms to manage COVID-19 on a working production.

The local screen industry eco-system right now is very fragile, and the Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group recognises the importance of keeping domestic productions operational where possible, or ready to gear back up as quickly as possible should an increase in New Zealand’s COVID-19 Alert level necessitate work stoppages.

The other key priority for the Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group during this initial phase of the COVID-19 crisis is working closely with key stakeholders, including funding bodies and financiers, to explore the various ways in which the domestic screen production industry can be supported in order to continue working safely during these uncertain times.

Beyond this acute response, the Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group will also be looking at funding mechanisms and networks to facilitate training and development opportunities for affected businesses as well as individual crew members, performers, writers and directors.

These unprecedented times call for calm and proactive decision-making in order to protect the local screen sector and to ensure that when recovery happens – and it will – the industry is ready to operate at maximum capacity again for our domestic productions and so that international line productions can return as soon as it is viable.

www.screenindustrynz.co.nz

 

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*Documents created with thanks by Health & Safety Officer Robert ‘Gibbo’ Gibson and Producer Rebekah ‘Bex’ Kelly.

 

About the Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group

Established in mid-March 2020 by the Screen Sector Strategy 2030 Facilitation Group, the Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group is a pan-sector team, made up of representatives from many key industry guilds and organisations, as well as major stakeholders.

While the work of finalising the Screen Sector Strategy 2030 continues, the Screen Sector Facilitation Group felt it was essential to urgently establish a working group to address the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Screen Sector and to ensure that when recovery happens – and it will – we are all ready to gear back up and get the screen industry in Aotearoa humming again.

A key finding of the Screen Sector Strategy 2030 is the desire for a pan-sector unified voice and while that pan sector body is some time away still, it is evident that now, more than ever, our industry needs to work cohesively and it is with that in mind that this working group has been formed.

The group’s members and stakeholders are as follows:

Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group – Members

Alice Shearman New Zealand Writers Guild
Brian Finn Weta Group
Felicity Letcher Main Reactor
Grant Baker Auckland Screen Alliance / Film Auckland / Images & Sound
Hineani Melbourne Ngā Aho Whakaari
Kelly Lucas Screen Industry Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand
Matthew Metcalfe General Film Corporation
Patricia Watson WIFT NZ (Women in Film and Television)
Peter Clews NZ Advertising Producers Group
Richard Fletcher SPADA / Libertine Pictures
Sally Campbell South Pacific Pictures
Sandy Gildea SPADA (Screen Production & Development Association)
Sioux Macdonald Screen Industry Guild of NZ / Filmcrews
Tui Ruwhiu Directors & Editors Guild of NZ

Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group – Stakeholders

Domestic and international screen producers & productions

Government ministries:

Screen funding bodies:

Regional economic development agencies:

Regional Film Offices of New Zealand

 

 

 

Media enquiries, please contact:

Tamar Münch | The Public Good

P: 021 659 349 | E: tamar@thepublicgood.co.nz

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It has been a big year for DEGNZ and the Screen Industry.

At the Guild we have unionised, and we have recently been accepted by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) as an affiliate. We are now well poised to represent New Zealand directors and editors in negotiations over minimum rates and terms and conditions should the proposed legislation go through next year that will allow collective bargaining for contractors. There are a number of other key benefits to our unionising. We are much more closely aligned with the New Zealand Writers Guild and Equity New Zealand, both of who are also unions and affiliates of the CTU. As representatives of three of the four above-the-line creatives, we have many common interests when it comes to our relationships with producers. The CTU has experience, expertise and resources we can call upon. And internationally, we now have have equal status with the Directors Guild of America, the Directors Guild of Canada and the Australian Directors Guild, who are also labour unions.

DEGNZ became a founding member of the Alliance of Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Writers and Directors (AAPA) following DEGNZ’s attendance in May at the General Assembly of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) and the Executive Committee Meeting of Writers and Directors Worldwide (W & DW). This has already paid dividends with the Director General of CISAC Gadio Oron here last week to help us lobby the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Kris Faafoi and others over director’s copyright and fair remuneration for authors as the Copyright Act Review continues. Gadi is a lawyer and copyright expert and brings an important international perspective to the deliberations.

The Guild continues to input into the Film Industry Working Group (FIWG) as drafting of the proposed legislation to go to the House is finalised, and we have made considerable effort to put our views across as the NZ Screen Sector Strategy 2030 has gone about its work. DEGNZ board member Michael Duignan has played an important role with the Strategy as a member of its Facilitation Group.

DEGNZ worked closely with Equity as it updated its Guidelines for Nudity and Intimacy on Stage and Screen, and Guild board member and South Island representative Louise Leitch went through the full training conducted by UK Intimacy Coordinator Ita O’Brien on best practise guidelines for intimacy, simulated sex and nudity on set. Louise ran her first workshop for this in Christchurch in November, and we will look to her to continue this work so that all directors can have the opportunity to upskill in this critical area. As well, we maintain ongoing feedback to the Screen Women Action Group (SWAG) as it goes about its efforts to change the culture that enables bullying, harassment, discrimination and other abuses of power over women in the screen industry.

2019 was the third year we ran the Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator to help address the poor numbers of women directing feature films in New Zealand, and to help female directors advance their projects and careers. We have now seen 23 women go through the Incubator to date and there has been good progress:

  • One has made her first feature,
  • one has just received production finance for her first feature,
  • one has gone on to work regularly as a TV drama director
  • one has moved into directing commercials as she continues to pursue feature directing,
  • one has entered the Shortland Street Directors Programme,
  • one will direct her first TV drama on a U.S. series next year,
  • two have entered the NZ Advertising Producer Guild’s Female Commercial Director Mentorship Programme

and all the others are driving forward on their careers and projects. We still have a ways to go to address the inequities in the numbers of women having sustainable careers as directors, but we are making some headway.

We maintain an extensive professional development programme for directors and editors. In particular, we have honed in on post production workflow and assistant editors as this has proven to be a problematic area because of the technical knowledge and skill required to ensure projects run effectively and eficiently. Our work on this has been driven by our three editor board members Annie Collins, Francis Glenday and Margot Francis. These three are also shaping the  standard feature film editor agreement we plan to make available in the first quarter of 2020.

As we close out the year we have just learned that Minister Faafoi will not be making an announcement about the future of TVNZ and RNZ. We expect that the merger will go ahead but there is obviously a significant cost associated with this, and it will be on an annual basis, not a one-off. The article on the RNZ website today mooted the possibility of increased funding for NZ On Air. This would be welcomed by many, as would an increase in funding for NZFC who have far greater calls on monies than their budget allows for. We shall have to wait and see.

I want to thank the membership for their continued support of the Guild in 2019. DEGNZ is committed as our slogan says to the creative, financial and cultural wellbeing of New Zealand directors and editors. We have a dynamic board in President Howard Taylor, Vice President Louise Leitch, Treasurer Phil Gore, and board members Annie Collins, Michael Duignan, Margot Francis, Francis Glenday, Roseanne Liang, Robyn Paterson and Gabriel Reid who work voluntarily and tirelessly on our behalves and have been tremendous support to me throughout the year.

I also want to thank my Events and Marketing Manager Tema Pua and Accounts person Caroline Harrow who keep the Guild operations functioning smoothly.

Thanks also go to the other guilds and associations we have worked with across the year, whether it be in our workshops, seminars and networking and social functions, or on the bigger picture representations we have made such as the FIWG and Screen Sector Strategy. We are all in this together even though we may have different perspectives and positions.

Finally, I want to extend our gratitude to our core financial supporters the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air,  Vista Foundation and the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collection Society, without who we would not be able to deliver many of the services we do, and to our other sponsors accounting firm VCFO Group and Dominion Law.

Wishing you all a Meri Kirihimete and a Happy New Year for 2020!

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director