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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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There have been a significant number of developments that have occupied our time recently that are worthwhile highlighting.

Firstly, the Copyright Act Review Issues Paper submission.

DEGNZ made a submission, the primary focus of which was the call for recognition of director’s copyright in audiovisual content and cinematographic film. Directors are the authors of their audiovisual works and this needs to be recognised in New Zealand in the Copyright Act, as it is in many other countries around the world. With copyright, directors will be able to negotiate and receive income beyond solely fees that will help them to generate more creative work, and better sustain themselves in their careers. We have a long road to go to convince Government on this, and we need everyone’s help to do so. I hope that many of you were able to make your own personal submissions to assist us with our case. In future we will be looking to you again to support our efforts, particularly with personal statements about how the lack of recognition for directors in respect to copyright has adversely affected you economically and creatively in seeking sustainable careers for yourselves as directors.

Second, the Screen Industry Strategy.

Some of you may be aware of the formation of a body to respond to the Government’s call for industry to develop a 10-year screen industry strategy. DEGNZ has been extremely unhappy about how this group was formed and the lack of any real consultation and communication with the wider screen industry as it was set up. We have called on the proposed chair of this body, former broadcaster and now lawyer Linda Clark, to ensure clear communication and transparency with all parties in the screen industry as it goes about its work. DEGNZ board member and director Michael Duignan was invited into the facilitation group appointed to work alongside this body in response to our request for involvement. In the coming months we will have more to communicate with you about this very important initiative.

Third, unionisation.

Following the almost unanimous vote at the Annual General Meeting last year to unionise, DEGNZ has been working with legal representation to ensure our constitution meets the requirements of a union. The redrafting of the constitution has been completed and will be presented at this year’s AGM for adoption. This will formalise the Guild’s existence as a union and we will affiliate with the Council of Trade Unions soon after. Many of you will be aware that DEGNZ participated in the Film Industry Working Group along with a number of other guilds and bodies. It was convened by the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway, to find a way for screen industry workers to collectively bargain, and made its recommendations to the Minister after many months of discussion. We look forward to the Government following through and making the changes necessary to allow collective bargaining to occur. Unionisation is one facet of our preparations for the work the Guild will have to do when that happens.

Fourth, sexual harassment and intimacy on set.

DEGNZ board member and director Louise Leitch has been leading the Guild efforts in regard to sexual harassment and protocols around intimacy, simulated sex and nudity content. As Louise outlined in this column a couple of weeks ago, she has been working closely with Equity NZ on their Guidelines for Nudity and Intimacy on Stage and Screen. She also participated in the full workshop programme run by UK Intimacy Coordinator Ita O’Brien. It’s the Guild’s intention to offer an ongoing training programme for directors led by Louise and calling on highly experienced actor, instructor and Equity NZ president Jennifer Ward-Lealand, another full participant at Ita O’Brien’s workshops. At the same time, the Guild is maintaining close communication with the Screen Women’s Action Group as they go about their efforts to ensure a safe, sexual harassment-free workplace for screen industry workers.

Fifth, DVD library.

DEGNZ board member and director Gabriel Reid brought to the board’s attention the potential loss of a significant audiovisual resource with the closure of Auckland’s Videon DVD store this year. Videon had a broad collection of many arthouse, auteur director and hard to obtain DVDs. We all know that DVD stores have suffered immensely from the impact of streaming, with many closing down, and a lot of the DVDs that were available from Videon cannot be accessed digitally, or easily. Now Wellington institution Aro Video is suffering as Videon did. The DEGNZ board felt that something had to be done and quickly to preserve access for directors, editors and others to the rare and difficult to obtain films that Videon had on its shelves. In the fire sale that occurred at Videon, DEGNZ acquired over 3000 of their DVDs. We have these in storage and are currently negotiating a solution to see these held in an audiovisual library for access by anyone interested in these films for research purposes or entertainment. We will inform the membership how to go about this once negotiations are complete and the DVDs have all been catalogued.

Sixth, training for post-production.

DEGNZ board member and editor Annie Collins has been driving our strategic and tactical efforts around ensuring editors and others are trained appropriately for work during post-production. Annie is one of NZ’s most highly experienced narrative short, feature and documentary editors and is drawing on all of her accumulated knowledge as we structure current and future initiatives. The Assistant Editor workshops are one example of the outcomes from our focus in this area, the feature film editing attachments another. The work Annie is leading will hopefully introduce or stimulate other initiatives here.

I am thankful to have such a dedicated and supportive board working on behalf of the membership and their crafts. While our other board members haven’t been mentioned in this particular missive, I would also like to acknowledge board members Roseanne Liang, Phil Gore, Francis Glenday, and of course President Howard Taylor for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Guild. As well, we should recognise the invaluable contribution made by Advisory Board member and ex-board member Grant Campbell who represents the Guild on the board of the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society and input into our Copyright Submission.

Finally, we can announce that editor Margot Francis and director Robyn Paterson have joined the DEGNZ board, replacing directors Helena Brook and Zoe McIntosh, who both had to step down because of work/personal commitments.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director