What’s Happening?

Looking out my window I can see pohutukawa blossoms on my tree. Spring really is here. An interesting time to take the temperature on the industry, I thought. So I decided to ring around the other guilds and pose a simple question: What’s happening? Here are the responses I got as well as my own:

WRITERS GUILD
Alice Shearman, Executive Director (ED) of the New Zealand Writers Guild (NZWG), tells me the good news is that membership is up 20%. They are conducting an internal review of their processes for members, and refocusing on their core services around contracts, lobbying, rates and guidelines. They are also reviewing the Seed Grant Funding to ensure its fit for purpose. They’ve got the Screen Writer Awards New Zealand (SWANZ) on 22 September, will be sharing a booth at the Big Screen Symposium with DEGNZ, are launching in the not too distant future a Find A Writer function on their website so that you can easily locate writers for work, and will open the next Call for Applications for the Seed Grant Fund on 23 September. The Government’s Creative Sector Review also earns NZWG attention.

ACTORS EQUITY
Over at Actors Equity NZ, Industrial Organiser/Officer Melissa Ansell-Bridges has said they’ve a number of activities on the go, including:

  • A series of Green Rooms on Self-taping and Showreels in Wellington and Auckland to prepare actors for this growing aspect of auditioning.
  • Finalised survey on Theatre conditions in New Zealand, assessing results currently
  • Beginning preparations for our Graduate Day, an opportunity to welcome new actors into the industry and prepare them with important information.
  • Had a number of great workshops this year through the Equity Foundation including 2 days with Melissa Bruder, Brita McVeigh, Sara Wiseman, Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Stuart Turner.
  • Preparations underway for an Actors Benevolent Fund fundraiser quiz night.

Melissa also tells me that they’ve also announced that Elizabeth McRae is the recipient of the Equity New Zealand Lifetime Achievement.

NZ TECHOS
International productions remain a significant workload for the New Zealand Film and Video Technicians’ Guild, according to Executive Officer, Karla Rogers. There are always immigration issues and with the new Health and Safety regulations in force from 1 April, ensuring H & S compliance, particularly on lower budget shoots coming into the country, is high on the list. Health and Safety Officers are like gold at the moment and will be for the foreseeable future. The volume of production both domestic and international is relatively high, and crew shortages are a real concern, even with the commercials market a little on the quiet side.

SPADA
It’s a busy time too with the Screen Production and Development Association, as ED Sandy Gildea reports. SPADA is leading a joint stand with NZFC at the main TV market MIPCOM in October, providing a branded umbrella for Kiwi producers to work under. They will also be putting into effect an MOU signed with the UK’s producer body PACT that will see some new initiatives at MIPCOM. Their International Training Programme (ITP) with Angus Finney has its third and final module from 21 – 23 November, immediately followed by the annual SPADA conference on the 24th & 25th. The calls for the South Pacific Pictures Big Pitch and nominations for the SPADA Industry Awards are out now. SPADA have also secured a travel bursary from Grow Wellington, now called WREDA, that will support one producer from the 2015 and 2016 years of the ITP to attend the Production Finance Market in the UK… and it’s Wellington’s David Stubbs who gets it. Like NZWG, SPADA is also actively involved in the Government’s Creative Sector Review.

DEGNZ
Here at DEGNZ we continue to address the lack of copyright for directors, and engage with government over the Creative Sector Review as well. We maintain our very close communication with the Australian Directors Guild as they negotiate with the Screen Producers Association of Australia over terms and conditions for TV drama directors. DEGNZ board member and long time director Grant Campbell has now seen in two board meetings as a new board member of the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society, and on the DEGNZ board we have recently said thanks and farewell to Richard Riddiford and Costa Botes, both of whom contributed significantly to the governance of the guild. We continue to operate an extensive professional development programme for directors and editors, and we will be announcing a call shortly for a documentary editing mentorship. Next week we will be holding our inaugural Women Filmmakers Incubator with an exciting lineup of experts, coming on the back of three of the guild’s women directors receiving a Gaylene Preston Directors’ Award. And as Alice of NZWG mentioned, we will be sharing a booth at the Big Screen Symposium, so please come and say hello to our board members and staff, or just hang out during sessions. On the DEGNZ staff front, Samantha Caughey, our former Events and Marketing Coordinator, whom many of you will have dealt with, has taken up a bigger workload at the University of Auckland. Replacing her is the highly capable Tema Pua, an intern at DEGNZ during 2016. With Christmas now in sight we have begun planning for the annual Combined Guilds Xmas Party, dates and venues to come.

Hope you’re all enjoying the sunshine after that interminable rain, in Auckland at least.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director