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2020 has certainly been a trying year.

We tried to run our professional development programme as we have done each year and the pandemic threw a spanner in the works. A shift to online worked for nearly every element of it. By moving online, we found we could reach into the regions in a way that we previously hadn’t been able to. While it’s not the perfect mechanism for delivery of workshops, it does allow participation that was previously not so easily achieved. We continue to explore how we can incorporate online delivery in our programme.

We together with the other two screen industry unions the New Zealand Writers Guild and Equity New Zealand tried to do as much as we could to get the Screen Industry Worker Bill through the first reading in the House, the Select Committee submissions and onward towards becoming legislation. Of course, COVID interrupted that as well. With it set aside while the Government responded to the coronavirus and then was distracted by the election, we were very pleased to hear a short while ago that the bill is back on the Government’s agenda under new Workplace and Safety Minister Michael Wood. We are, though, not going to see any real progress on it until 2021.

Following a considerable effort back in 2012 that was stymied at the last hurdle by Treasury, we have for the last two and a half years been trying to make headway on copyright for directors with the Copyright Act under review. We did get it included in the terms of reference for the Review and have been working very hard with help from the Australian Directors Guild and The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC). Unfortunately, the election again caused a disruption to progress and we are waiting for the new Consumer and Commerce Affairs Minister David Clark to show his face on the issue.

We tried and have been successful in accessing some COVID Recovery funds. Confirmed for 2021 are a series of workshops around the motu on Rights and Remuneration, a series of one-day workshops for South Island short film directors at the new and emerging level, and a series of workshops by experienced directors on Tone: Making the Intangible Tangible. We await the results of a couple of other applications. All these workshops are part of the Government effort to build skills and capability in the sector.

On a more serious note, 2021 has been a trying time for us all because of COVID-19. Individuals, companies and organisations in the screen sector have experienced considerable difficulty— personally, financially, emotionally, psychologically—as we all have had to face the burden placed on us by the pandemic. This of course has affected everyone, not just us in the screen sector. Government and industry responded well to the screen sector’s distress and many of us are extremely fortunate to be back in work. As well, we are able to socialise, intermingle and conduct our lives in a manner not too dissimilar to pre-pandemic times—all when sickness and death from COVID is afflicting other nations much more severely. While 2020 has been hard for everyone globally, we can be thankful that we have survived somewhat unscathed.

Have we because of COVID gone through a paradigm shift in thinking about our place, importance in the world and and what we can do not just for ourselves but for others? I certainly hope so, but it’s down to each of us to make that change.

In the meantime, we wish you a meri kirihimete and ngā mihi o te tau hou!

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Zoom's Gallery Views of DEGNZ's workshops

As life accelerates back to speed, for some, lockdown may seem like a distant memory. What happened in the DEGNZ calendar during April and May, you ask?

Lockdown turned out to be the perfect opportunity for us to test online learning, starting with part two of the Directors Toolkit with Peter Burger after the original weekend got cut short pre-Lockdown. It was great to bring the class of directors back together for further teaching, and to lay off the hand sanitiser.

Acting/directing coach Miranda Harcourt also ran two excellent Directing Actors sessions for the Guild. We received so many applications that it was a real blessing that we could stretch the one workshop to two – thanks in part to Miranda’s normally chocker schedule being grounded. Even then, we sadly couldn’t give every applicant a place.

Zoom's Gallery Views of DEGNZ's workshops

Grids within a grid: Participants in workshops with Peter Burger and Miranda Harcourt.

During lockdown, we enjoyed seeing what members made as part of DEGNZ Play, a creative outlet for members to make and share 1-minute videos from inside their bubbles.

Round 1 of the 2020 Table Reads, in association with the NZ Writers Guild, went virtual via Zoom. A cast of seven actors read and contributed their thoughts on a feature film script being written by Nick Ward and directed by Kath Akuhata-Brown (DEGNZ), the lucky draw winners. We’ve got two more rounds this year, likely around a 3-dimensional table. If you’re writing a feature, these are a great opportunity and exclusive to members only.

DEGNZ also scrutinised a bunch of how-to guides and took events online. If you missed any of our live events, you can watch the recordings for Young Creators: Think Outside the Box, Screenlink: The Editor, a Composer’s Friend or Foe? and DEGNZ Forum: Draft Screen Sector Strategy 2030 Panel Discussion, which were held on our Facebook Live.

Now, looking ahead, we’ll be picking up the workshops that are near impossible to adapt for online – our practical actor-director workshops and a new and improved Assistant Editors Course. Our first in-person workshop is on this Friday with the seven directors of the 2020 Women Filmmakers Incubator. Meanwhile, Melbourne-based Kiwi director Jonathan Brough prepares to teach Comedy Directing online in June.

Based on feedback we received from participants, we feel online learning went pretty well. We are interested in developing our professional development programme to provide a mix of in-person and online opportunities in the future, so that more directors and editors can benefit and come together from across New Zealand.

So thanks to learning with us.

Tema Pua
Events & Marketing Manager