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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 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.


Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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Considering the significant impact of COVID on the entertainment industry, it’s hard not to be pleased with the incredible amount of activity going on in the New Zealand screen industry right now.

New Zealand is being seen as a good, safe destination to shoot in, with a number of international productions happening and others wanting to come in. This means crews are busy and getting paid well, more New Zealand actors are getting cast in roles that at another time would have gone to internationals, and the economic impact of the spend is going around the country.

As well, New Zealand productions, whether domestic or coproduction, are also happening. Vegas in Rotorua, One Lane Bridge in Queenstown, Mystic’s going again, Head High has gotten another series, The Panthers is shooting. These are just some of the bigger ones, in addition to the many small and medium-sized productions that typically get made in any given year.

Producers are lining up with projects for the Premium Drama Fund. A number of these will shoot this year. Shortly, the development component of the PDF will come out. All this on top of the typical funding from our three content funding bodies.

What’s the problem? Well crew rates and budgets for a start.

Crew are putting their prices up because demand exceeds supply, making it very difficult for NZ productions to get highly experienced crew. So if you’ve got an inexperienced teenager, relative or friend who’s been longing to get into film and TV, there’s never been a better time.

Budgets from the funding bodies for regular production haven’t increased, which means NZ can’t compete with their international dollars. The Premium Fund projects have hopefully taken increased rates into account, but for right now this is a one-off fund. Now is the time to lobby Government for more money for the funding bodies. This is particularly the case for NZFC as filmmakers are essentially paying—not getting paid—to make their low-budget films. While independently-funded films often operate in this way, it shouldn’t be the case for films funded by NZFC.

On the big picture front, we’ve heard that the Screen Industry Workers Bill is walking at tortoise pace while the government puts the afterburner on Fair Pay Agreements. Movement is happening on the proposed pan-sector body The Copyright Act Review is stuck in limbo. Considerable effort is going into the shaping and establishment of the Workforce Development Councils, driven out of the Reform of Vocational Education. This is a real positive for the screen sector as it will hopefully provide pathways into screen sector work that will address the shortages we face on the crew side particularly, but also in other areas.

Frankly, though, we are in a pretty good place considering. Now we just have to pray like hell that those COVID variants don’t wreak havoc on what could be a very good year for us all.


Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director