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Globalisation has been both beneficial and detrimental to the New Zealand screen industry. Beneficial in that we have been the recipient of international productions coming here and spending many millions of dollars on goods, services and wages with a net benefit to the New Zealand economy.

When American producer Rob Tapert really kicked it off with Hercules in the 90’s, he also trained up many of the crew who went on to work on his other shows and later Peter Jackson’s and Andrew Adamson’s films, amongst other big budget projects. Now our crew have a reputation second to none.

But we really screwed up when we signed up for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and failed to get an exemption as Australia did for audiovisual services.

This exemption allows Australia to impose broadcast quotas for local content. It also creates the possibility for Australia to apply quotas to digital services, including streamers as is now being actively discussed there. Meanwhile, in New Zealand when we talk about quotas on broadcast and levies on streamers, the first thing that springs from peoples’ mouths is, “We can’t because of GATT.”

Well maybe it’s time to drive significant change here as is currently being proposed in many other sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it great opportunity to make change that before would never have been imaginable.

We are seeing examples of it every day in the news. The proposed merger of TVNZ and RNZ, the setting aside of the Resource Management Act, the drive to grow the New Zealand manufacturing sector, and the selling of CBD head offices because working from home has become a reality for many. We are now having to reconfigure the rules to adapt to the new normal we find ourselves in.

With America turning in on itself, the idea of unchecked globilisation being reconsidered, and trade deals being mooted for restructuring and renegotiation, now is an ideal time for cultural considerations for local content to be reinstated. We should be looking to ensure that New Zealand content on NZ screens is a requirement, not just a nice to have, whether it’s on local broadcasters and platforms or international streamers swamping us with international content.

In the meantime, we just have to figure out a way to swamp the world with New Zealand content. Some more funding for NZ On Air and the NZ Film Commission would be a good start.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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As the first glimmer of dawn lights the sky and the promise of Level Two becomes more real, its time I stopped leaving all the communication to our ED Tui. He is doing an amazing job. Thank you, Tui. Tui and Tema, our events manager, are working as hard as ever but they have volunteered to take a pay cut till things improve and I thank them for that.

When I started in television (the 1970s), a New Zealand documentary tradition was being established by the NZBC – at that time the only player in town. The documentaries we were making reflected New Zealand’s preoccupations of the time. A major theme was ‘who are we?’ What defines a New Zealander? Culturally the country was in its adolescence and we spent a lot of time gazing in the mirror. A decade later we had matured. We were more self-confident and turned our attention outward. But from that time a number of qualities became attached to the idea of being a New Zealander – self-reliance, inventiveness (the number 8 wire cliché), love of the outdoors and sport. For me the value we Kiwis put above all others was ‘fairness’. We see ourselves as a just society that tries to treat people fairly. The phrase ‘a fair go’ is part of our lexicon. Now, thanks to our Prime Minister, we can add another value – kindness. The word resonated and we have embraced it.

Those two values are at the very heart of what our Guild is about. We are here to look after the well-being of our members. They are the values that drive everything we do. They are the reason we became a union. Perhaps as well as promoting ‘buy local’ to support the NZ economy, we should be pushing ‘watch local’ to support our industry!

So be fair, be kind and I reckon we should have a great party when we come out of lockdown.

Howard Taylor
President

With COVID-19 upon us, it’s even more important than ever that we get a strategy for the screen sector right. DEGNZ is hosting a panel discussion on Facebook Live to be moderated by business journalist and commentator Rod Oram on Friday 1 May at 2PM.

Senior screen industry practitioners Bailey Mackey, CEO, Pango Productions; Philly de Lacey, CEO, Screentime; Stephen Knightly, Board Member, NZ Game Developers Association; Mel Turner, Producer, Ground Control; Duncan Greive, Managing Editor, The Spinoff, and Julia Parnell, Director/Producer, Notable Pictures, will share their thoughts on the draft and what now needs to be taken into account to forge a sustainable and successful future for NZ’s screen industry.

WHEN:  Fri 1 May, 2pm
WHERE:  Directors and Editors Guild of New Zealand Facebook page. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can watch the live-stream below on this post, but you won’t be able to ask questions/comment.

Feedback on the draft Screen Sector Strategy 2030

The Screen Sector Strategy 2030 Facilitation Group is currently seeking industry feedback on the draft strategy. The extended deadline to provide your feedback via questionnaire is Friday 8 May. Find out more

Panel Discussion Live-Stream Recording

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DEGNZ

DEGNZ will be providing a written submission to the Screen Sector Strategy NZ 2020 – 2030. We want to hear your thoughts!

DEGNZ has formulated 15 questions to help stimulate your thinking about the future of the New Zealand screen industry. You can answer as many or as few questions as you want. All responses that we receive by Monday 14 October will go into shaping the Guild’s submission.

Download Questionnaire

Please email your answers to us at admin@degnz.co.nz with ‘Questionnaire’ in the subject line.

The Screen Sector Strategy NZ has been engaging with the industry by holding hui around the country. A second Auckland hui has been announced. If you couldn’t make it to the first, here’s your chance to participate.

Monday 21 October, 12:30 – 3:30pm   Hatchbox @ GridAKL, Lvl 4, 12 Madden St, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland

It is a critical time for the New Zealand screen industry and we want to encourage everyone to have a say, so please make the most of the opportunity.

Ngā mihi,

Directors & Editors Guild of 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