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.
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.