A new multi-million dollar film studio has been given resource consent to begin building in Christchurch. Once fully developed, it would be a $100 million facility that could eventually be responsible for 2000 jobs.

DEGNZ member Jordon Mauger is behind the development. Speaking to Stuff, he states that he is currently talking to investors but the plan is to have the studio operational in early 2022.

There is still big international demand to film in Aotearoa and Mauger believes that this new studio will attract big money into the region.

Last updated on 17 June 2021

DEGNZ member Julia Parnell’s documentary film SIX60: Till the Lights Go Out is now available to watch free on TVNZ OnDemand. The film follows the incredible rise of SIX60, a student band turned national phenomenon, giving audiences unprecedented access to the Kiwi band’s untold story and featuring a soundtrack comprised of all their hit songs.

SIX60: Till the Lights Go Out premiered on the 23rd of November 2020 to a sold-out crowd at Auckland’s Civic Theatre. It spent four weeks at the top of the box office when it was released in cinemas shortly after.

Speaking to Stuff, Parnell said she began the project simply wanting to document a band making history but discovered an “untold story of ambition and creative vulnerability”.

Watch SIX60: Till the Lights Go Out

Last updated on 16 June 2021

Know Your Rights nationwide tour of workshops have added two new dates to the tour!

HAMILTON – Saturday 3 July 2021
Book here

AUCKLAND in conjunction with Ngā Aho Whakaari – Saturday 7 August 2021
Book here

The Know Your Rights Workshop is a ‘must-do’ for any actor, director, editor or writer who seeks a successful career in the New Zealand screen industry, arming you with the knowledge, information and resources you need to negotiate and collaborate successfully and work sustainably.

The next three workshops will be held in Auckland on Friday 25 June, Wellington Friday 30 July and Rotorua Saturday 31 July, with spaces still available! Book your free ticket & lunch here.

Joining the three Executive Directors of the guilds to present on topics will be legal firm Hudson Gavin Martin (experts in media and IP law) and production accountant Natalie Doherty.

Each workshop will be run from 9.30AM to 4.30PM, with lunch provided, in a series of joint and breakout sessions, and will also cover off on topics including:

  • Intellectual Property
  • Copyright
  • The difference between employer and contractor
  • Breakout sessions with specific rights, contracting and career information for Writers, Directors and Editors, and Performers
  • At the Auckland Workshop on August 7, an additional breakout option is available for Māori screen practitioners with Ngā Aho Whakaari Executive Director Hineani Melbourne.
  • Tips and advice on company structures, how to handle taxes, GST, per diems and expenses and more

Tour Dates 2021:

Auckland – Friday 12 March | COMPLETED
Dunedin – Friday 26 March | COMPLETED
Christchurch – Friday 30 April | COMPLETED
Wellington – Friday 21 May | COMPLETED
Nelson – Friday 22 May | COMPLETED
Auckland – Friday 25 June
Hamilton – Saturday 3 July
Wellington – Friday 30 July
Rotorua – Saturday 31 July
Auckland – Saturday 7 August

NB: Venues confirmed closer to the dates

Book HERE for any of the upcoming workshops.


These workshops are brought to you with the financial support of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.  

Last updated on 16 June 2021

We invite members to join WIFT and DEGNZ on the evening of July 29 for the Director-Editor Relationship in Wellington, back by popular demand.

We thoroughly enjoyed hearing from the Auckland panellists – directors Pietra Brettkelly and Roseanne Liang, editors Cushla Dillon and Jochen FitzHerbert, moderated by director Leanne Pooley – at the beginning of this month. With another superb line-up, you’ll want to reserve your seat early!

The Director-Editor relationship

The Content: How does a director find the right editor? At which point in the process do you bring the editor in? Understanding the parameters of each role and making sure your contract reflects that. Who has creative say? How important are the editor’s fresh pair of eyes? How do the directors and editors navigate the test screening process? What happens if you change editor over the course of the project?  How does the editor help manage the relationship with the commissioner / client? Who leads when? Maintaining a healthy, collaborative relationship that has longevity over more than one project.

So many questions! Come along and get yours answered by this extremely experienced panel:


Dame Gaylene Preston, DNZM, has been a writer/director/producer since 1978, and made the classics of New Zealand cinema Mr Wrong, Ruby and RataWar Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us and Home By Christmas. Her dramatic TV series include Bread & Roses and Hope and Wire, plus many documentaries, her latest being the feature, My Year With Helen. Her work has screened in most high profile international film festivals including Sundance, Toronto, London, and Sydney. Dame Gaylene is the New Zealand Arts Foundation’s inaugural Filmmaker Laureate (2001).

Pietra Brettkelly, recipient of the 2020 South Pacific Pictures Award for Achievement In Film for her acclaimed documentary feature Yellow Is Forbidden. Pietra is a three-time Oscar-selected documentary filmmaker, a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and an Arts Laureate of New Zealand.

Alex Boyd (they/them) editor of the acclaimed recent feature film Cousins, they have also edited all four seasons of Wellington Paranormal. They enjoy working across genres, and have edited documentary, drama, sci-fi, comedy, and animation.

Annie Collins is best known for her extensive resume of documentaries, having edited such landmark productions as Patu!, The Neglected Miracle and Gardening with Soul. The talented editor has also won awards for her work on Scarfies, Two Little Boys and Out of the Blue, with Coming Home in the Dark having premiered to critical acclaim at Sundance and due to be released here in August.

Lala Rolls 
Fijian-European Lala Rolls’ projects often involve explorations of Māori and Polynesian culture. She directs as much as she edits, often doing both on the same project. Rolls has been a multiple finalist at New Zealand awards ceremonies for her work on acclaimed drama series The Insider’s Guide to Happiness and the Rita Angus documentary Lovely Rita. She edited The Man in the Hat (about art dealer Peter McLeavey), and 2018’s Celia, about the late equality advocate Celia Lashlie, and directed, produced and edited the 2020 feature film Tupaia’s Endeavour.

WIFTNZ and DEGNZ members free, non-members $15 cash – includes a drink and nibbles.

Date: Thu 29 July 2021
Location: Taia Studios, 4 Bay Road, Kilbirnie, Wellington
Time: 6pm drinks for a 6.30pm sharp start

RSVP essential to office@wiftnz.org.nz

Last updated on 14 June 2021

Thanks to the Doc Edge Festival, I was able to attend their opening night film The 7 Years of Lukas Graham, a story about Danish pop sensation Lukas Graham’s lead singer Lukas Forchhammer’s wrestle with fame. It got me thinking about the woeful state of documentary in New Zealand, something the guild identified at the 2019 NZ On Air Factual Summit in 2019 and sought to generate conversation about. COVID unfortunately disrupted our plans, but it’s back on our agenda.

One-off documentary internationally is in a strong place, although former Amazon Studios film head Ted Hope cautioned at the Danish doc fest, CPH:DOX, recently that the big players prefer documentary with mass appeal. Hope did go on to say however that with the proliferation of niche platforms catering to specialised audiences, there are greater opportunities for more distinct fare.

From Variety’s article:

One of the key things to recognize is the streamers’ need for a “targeted audience at a low price point,” [HOPE] stressed. “That’s basically the equation for efficiency. The most valuable type of audience member for a streamer is the new audience member. How do you attract new people to the platform? People that are not only passionate about something but have actually displayed their passion in a predictable way, are ripe precisely for that acquisition.”
Hope emphasized how different the business goals of streamers are from the world of exhibition. “It’s not profit and loss so much as customer acquisition. Drilling down to what that means I think reveals a lot.”

New Zealand documentary however is meant to target New Zealand audiences first, although with NZFC its international appeal is also taken into account when funding decisions are made.

In taking a look at the TV market for one-off documentary in New Zealand it’s pretty easy to see… there really isn’t one. NZ broadcasters on the whole aren’t interested in one-off documentary as they often tell us, although Māori Television does occasionally commission them.

Feature-length documentary suffers pretty much the same fate with the channels. While short form doco. has found its place with platforms and does attract NZ On Air funding, there’s nothing longer format for these documentary makers to go onto in TV, so they have to turn their heads to theatrical documentary features if they want to move to longer form.

Reviewing the latest figures/films available for NZFC-funded documentary feature for the  NZSPG/SPIF* and non-NZSPG/SPIF documentary films back to 2015 provides some interesting insights.

Please note: The funding totals are for NZFC administered funds only and do not take into account ‘market money’—Distributor/Sales Agent MGs, private investment, broadcast/platform fees or other non-NZFC investment. The box office totals are for NZ only and do not take into account Australia or Rest of World revenues.

In these latest stats:

  • NZSPG/SPIF films with higher budgets and commensurate marketing spend and screen numbers tend not to reach NZ theatrical audiences well, Chasing Great aside.
  • Non-NZSPG/SPIF films in general deliver a better Return on Investment (NZ B.O./TTL NZFC FUNDING) for every NZFC-administered dollar than NZSPG films in the NZ theatrical market.
  • Although the ROI of NZSPG/SPIF films is generally not great, the top two NZ documentaries by box office are NZSPG films, and four are in the top 10.

*NZSPG – NZ Screen Production Grant   SPIF – Screen Production Incentive Fund



YRTITLE (In alphabetical order)NZFC EQUITYNZSPG/


21Dawn Raid$1,715,000.00$1,317,490.00$3,032,490.00$332,074.00$0.11
21James and Isey*$365,345.00N/A$365,345.00$522,101.00$1.43
20Six60 Till The Lights Go Out$580,000.00N/A$580,000.00$535,402.00$0.92
20The Girl On The Bridge$690,000.00N/A$690,000.00$21,855.00$0.03
20We Need to Talk About A.I.**$1,044,783.00$1,044,783.00No NZ Release
19Capital in the Twenty  First Century$804,224.00$2,010,560.00$2,814,784.00$85,458.00$0.03
19Herbs: Songs of Freedom$824,897.00N/A$824,897.00$97,015.00$0.12
19For My Father’s Kingdom$385,543.00N/A$385,543.00$63,762.00$0.17
19The Chills: The Triumph and Tragedy of Martin Phillips$600,000.00N/A$600,000.00$73,157.00$0.12
18Merata Mita: How Mum Decolonised The Screen$129,999.00N/A$129,999.00$39,039.00$0.30
18Maui’s Hook$100,000.00N/A$100,000.00$23,376.00$0.23
18She Shears$220,302.00N/A$220,302.00$133,474.00$0.61
18Born Racer$1,087,136.00$2,717,839.00$3,804,975.00$155,588.00$0.04
18The Heart Dances – The Journey of The Piano: The Ballet$437,500.00N/A$437,500.00$33,502.00$0.08
18Yellow Is Forbidden$338,631.00N/A$338,631.00$46,716.00$0.14
17My Year With Helen$446,000.00N.A.$446,000.00$281,949.00$0.63
17Kim Dotcom: Caught In the Web**$1,010,628.00N/A$1,010,628.00N/A
17Pecking Order$200,000.00N/A$200,000.00$538,378.00$2.69


Chasing Great$1,026,678.00$2,566,697.00$3,593,375.00$1,828,941.00$0.51
16The Free Man (AKA Welcome to the Thrill)$1,024,086.00$2,560,216.00$3,584,302.00$18,817.00$0.01
16Poi E: The Story Of A Song$921,984.00N/A$921,984.00$1,199,830.00$1.30
*Still in theatres
 **No mainstream theatrical release



161Chasing Great (NZSPG)$3,593,735.00$1,828,941.00
092Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls(SPIF)($1,900,000.00*)$1,820,000.00
163Poi E: The Story of Our Song$921,984.00$1,199,830.00
134Beyond the Edge (SPIF)$3,799,385.00$884,743.00
115Billy T – Te Movie$1,000,000.00$794,816.00
176McLaren (NZSPG)$4,992,389.00$768,248.00
177Pecking Order$200,000.00$538,378.00
218Six60 – Till the Lights Go Out$580,000.00$535,402.00
219James & Isey$365,345.00$529,270.00
1310Gardening with Soul$15,000.00$489,931.00

*SPIF figure not available for this film so NZFC Equity Investment only.


Of course, the first question in examining the success or not of any film is “Did it reach its target audience?” And the next question could be: “How much was spent in doing so?” Target audiences can vary from niche small audiences to mainstream large audiences but budget level is generally meant to be reflective of expected audience reach. Looking at funding investment and ROI only, NZFC hasn’t done well with its documentary funding decisions over the last six years—One more thing on the list the new NZFC CEO could turn his head to when he arrives.

And for TV, lobbying NZ On Air to fund one-off documentary would obviously help—something ourselves and others are intent on doing.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 9 June 2021