One of the things we are doing at DEGNZ at the moment in response to the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) that I wrote about two weeks ago, is to map the pathways for directors and editors into the industry.
For editors, we have already done a considerable amount of work in this area with the development of our Workflow Best Practice Guide and the Mandatory Skills and Advanced Skills Workshops for Assistant Editors, and the Assistant and Solo Editors Course. These programmes are a solid base that will inform our efforts to map pathways for editors.
For directors, there has been some debate internally at Guild board level about what directors need to know to step into the job from Day One. Different genres of content require different directorial skills. Factual, documentary, drama, TV commercials, corporate communications and marketing each require different approaches, but there are fundamentals that cross all. It’s defining these basics that we are in the processing of doing, both the theoretical and practical.
Back in the old days when there were no independent production companies, TVNZ or as it was known then the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, used to run what was essentially an apprenticeship programme internally. They would rotate the ‘apprentices’ through each of the departments, because in those days the organisation did all production internally—news, drama, factual, comedy, etc—essentially full time internships. After approximately two years of learning various crafts, the opportunity came to specialise, with individuals taking other specialist internal courses depending on their interest. Many of those over fifty five still in the industry learned their skills via this path, in disciplines including directing, editing, producing, camera, sound and others.
In the seventies and eighties when the first independent production companies formed, they became the training ground for new people into the industry, taking on those with the passion for production and giving them the skills they needed. At the same time, a few individuals identified the need for more formalised training, and so the film schools started up. They developed their own courses, got them NZQA certified or accredited, or not, started teaching and making money from doing so.
Meanwhile, the universities that had primarily been running academic degrees in film and media studies saw the need to provide more practical training as well, so brought practical filmmaking into their programmes.
These are essentially the pathways into the industry that exist today sans TVNZ: go to a film school or university, and or get an internship or job in the industry to get the coal-face experience you need. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge mess that is siloed, unfocused, multi-faceted and of varying quality. One highly experienced and knowledgeable person I spoke to with both screen industry and educational experience said to me that the screen industry had been its own worst enemy in developing career pathways for people coming in. There are now numerous efforts being made to address this, but it’s still somewhat siloed, working with a bureaucracy that doesn’t understand the unique nature of the screen industry, and incredibly complex.
Without a pan-sector body in existence (we are working on it), it has fallen to the screen guilds and associations to work with the educational entities and related bodies involved to try and get the best fit-for-purpose screen training we can. An all-important caveat in the new process is that only the screen industry can put forward the training pathways, content and standards that we require. Educational institutions may not do so.
If you have thoughts on this, whether you are a student, emerging, mid-career or highly experienced professional, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to provide the best information and guidance we can to ensure that the Reform of Vocational Education works for us into the future.