Undoubtedly obvious to many of you who read this column regularly, but for those who don’t, I’ll point out that I monitor the happenings in the screen industry in Australia as one possible bellwether for New Zealand’s screen sector.

A trend there that has become blindingly clear from doing so is the incredible volume of commissioning going on in Australia by streamers. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been replicated in New Zealand.

So it was with interest that I read the story by screen ‘rag’ if.com.au about veteran screen journalist Sandy George’s Paper on the need for cultural value and Australianness to be the primary driver of screen funding for film and drama.

From the article:

George argues if there is nothing recognisably Australian on the screen, it carries little cultural value. It is ‘Australianness’ that excites local viewers, and cultural value is the main reason why taxpayer funding underpins drama production.”

From George’s paper:

“It’s time to be very clear that Screen Australia is there for culture.”

“Depending on economics to deliver cultural value is arse about.”

One underlying reason for George’s issue-raising is the homogenising of ‘Australian content’ due to the foreign money, projects and commissioning flowing into the country—its Australian distinctiveness is being lost.

Another is the convenient obfuscation that lumps foreign production in Australia together with Australian production, and calling it all Australian production. This makes it look like the screen industry there is rosier than it actually is.

At a time when Nude Tuesday, Whina, the soon to be released Muru, Good Grief and Creamerie amongst others are putting a distinctive Aotearoa NZ stamp onto screen content, you’d think we wouldn’t have to worry about loss of our identity.

But then, we haven’t been getting the volumes of international projects and commissioning that our cuzzies across the Tassie have.

However, George’s statement that Screen Australia is there for culture is very pertinent for us. Some argue that the New Zealand Film Commission and the Government have been gradually losing their ways on this front, including depending on economics to deliver cultural value when it comes to screen. The Screen Sector Investment Review, now underway, which is focused very particularly on the New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZ’s version of the Aussie Producer Offset) and whether or not it’s delivering for New Zealand and our creatives, is therefore very timely.

Another point George makes is how exceptional cultural value in projects delivers exceptional Australian talents, the likes of Baz Luhrmann and George Miller, who then go on to deliver exceptional economic value. In our case, the likes of Peter Jackson, Jane Campion and Taika Waititi. She questions what and how screen talent development is conducted and focused to ensure these kinds of people come along—something we ourselves could give more attention to.

The article here and George’s paper here make interesting reading. And food for thought about how we could be doing things better from here on in.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 1 July 2022

Paul Grinder was a long-time member of DEGANZ, and a highly experienced Assistant Director, Second Unit Director and later Producer. I would occasionally see Paul at industry events between his long stints working locally or overseas, on films and series including Spartacus, Power Rangers and River Queen here, Black Sails in South Africa and Colony and Lost in Space in Canada.

Paul passed away on 26 May 2022. His service in Tauranga was attended by family and a host of colleagues from the screen industry who held him in high regard. He is sorely missed by many.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 30 June 2022

Editor/director and DEGANZ member Michael Hacking died in March this year after a long battle with cancer.

Michael came to New Zealand from England after leaving University. He was a good-looking young man with a quick wit and in 1970s Wellington he and partner Carole Hartney, with their English accents and good looks, cut a dash – they were ‘cool’ and soon part of the smart set.

After learning how to cut film at John O’Shea’s legendary indie company Pacific Films in the 1970s, Michael Hacking moved into directing while working for TVNZ. After directing two episodes of 1987 series Journeys in National Parks, his work as a director, producer, and writer for Natural History New Zealand took him around the globe. It was a life of adventure: threats from apex predators, kidnapping by armed Papua-New Guineans, and a stay in London’s Tropical Diseases Hospital with malaria.

For a full bio, go to NZ On Screen.

Over a decade ago Michael was hit with a brain tumour. He died on 3 March 2022 aged 70. His battle with the big C and survival this long attests to his uncomplaining courage, attitude to life and the support of his family. Michael is seriously missed by his wife Carole Hartney and daughter Lily, son-in-law Oliver and granddaughters Poppy and Florence.

Howard Taylor
Board member

Last updated on 30 June 2022

Missed our live events in June? We’ve added two to The DEGANZ Podcast.

Screenlink: Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

Writer/director Sam Kelly (Savage, Lambs), DOP Jess Charlton (Loimata, The Sweetest Tears) and DOP Richard Bluck NZCS (Black Sheep) weigh in on the creative advantages of filmmaking and collaborating on a small budget. We all want to make amazing work that looks exceptional. But what can you do when your budget doesn’t look so great?

Moderated by director Kathy McRae, this event was held in Wellington in June 2022 as part of the Screenlink series, and presented by DEGANZ and the New Zealand Cinematographers Society.

 

LGBTQ+ Film Festival Directors Q&A

Meet film festival directors Andrea Coloma (MIX COPENHAGEN), Spiro Economopoulos (Melbourne Queer Film Festival) and James Wooley (Frameline: San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival), joining us to discuss the rich histories and stories of how their Queer film festivals came to be.

Talking to filmmaker Kayne Ngātokowha Peters, our international guests discuss the social, political and creative landscape of gay cinema; and how New Zealanders can submit their films and join their global communities.

Content warning:

  • Strong language.
  • Contains sexual references.

This Q&A can also be viewed on the DEGANZ Youtube channel.

Last updated on 30 June 2022

Perfect Storm by Guild member Morag Brownlie is a finalist in NZIFF’s Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts Competition.

Directed, produced and edited by Morag, Perfect Storm follows one man’s enforced isolation on the wild west coast of Tāmaki Makaurau, as he paces the beach and wonders whether he will see those dear to him again. Dramatic, majestic, intimate and moving, this short documentary is sure to resonate with all who have been separated from their loved ones.

A Morning With Aroha, directed by Nicholas Rinni and edited by Francis Glenday (DEGANZ), is another finalist. The short film follows young Aroha as she embarks on her mission with increasing urgency, whilst her family begin to wonder about where she could be.

As Ngā Whanaunga is a competitive section of the New Zealand International Film Festival, all films in the collection are eligible for the Wellington UNESCO City of Film Award for Best Film ($3000 cash prize), as judged by a jury. Audience members at Auckland and Wellington screenings will also vote for the winner of the Letterboxd Audience Award, a cash prize of $1000.

Congratulations to Morag, Francis and their teams on this achievement. The finalists were selected by Leo Koziol and Craig Fasi, and will screen during NZIFF in all festival locations.

Read more

Last updated on 30 June 2022