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You’d have thought things might have settled after the COVID years. But, no, it’s still crazy. And what a year it’s been.

The long mooted merger of TVNZ and RNZ finally fell over.

The $60 million taken away from NZ On Air returned with an additional one-off $10 million.

The New Zealand Screen Production Grant, after months of uncertainty, while MBIE and MCH tried to figure out what to do, ultimately with a few tweaks became the NZ Screen Production Rebate.

New NZFC CEO Annie Murray replaced the missing-in-action David Strong and kicked off a major shake-up at the commish, appointing a Change Manager in Dana Youngman.

The writers’ and actors’ strikes in the U.S. that essentially paralysed Hollywood and shook up the global screen industry for half a year were resolved, with the actors’ membership just ratifying the deal.

We now have a three-party coalition government with Paul Goldsmith as Minister of Culture and Heritage, Melissa Lee as Minister of Media and Communications and Economic Development, and Brooke van Velden of the Act Party as the new Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, from whence the Screen Industry Workers Act sprang.

DEGANZ became the talk of the town with its opposition to a British director directing ‘New Zealand’ film The Canyon, which tells the story of a woman who finds herself in peril traversing the Grand Canyon. It went ahead despite our protests.

And the television of unease that has been After The Party has concluded to rapturous acclaim. It seems our now eschewed, uniquely strange and dark film industry traits have permeated Kiwi telly to good effect.

Just some of the things making 2023 a momentous year. So what’s coming up in 2024?

I’m aware of at least four international productions arriving on our shores over the next few months, so if you are looking to hire experienced crew for a scripted production, good luck. If you are a graduating film school student or someone looking for a job change, however, a below-the-line crew job probably won’t come any easier.

A $6 million budget cut at NZFC doesn’t bode well for NZ film unless the board gets off its chuff and finds more money for the org. to make films with. Perhaps SPADA’s about turn on the idea of a streamer levy might inspire the NZFC board to look further than government coffers.

NZ On Air is full of enthusiasm about its role as a multi-party and gap financier for New Zealand productions with international finance partners and the opportunities that might bring, thanks to the Screen Sector Investment Review. Quite how this fits with its focus on making content for New Zealanders first and with a free-to-air remit is going to be an interesting watch.

Warner Bros. Discovery and SKY seem to be finding their mojo while TVNZ still seems a bit aimless with no replacement for former CEO Simon Powell in sight. How to make a commercially-driven,  public-broadcasting behemoth into a lean and fit, profitable fighting machine amidst a world of declining advertising revenues is going to be a herculean task for anyone in 2024.

As I’ve mentioned previously in this column, the international streamers are going to make you pay for the pleasure of watching advertising on their platforms. This seems to have inspired local streamer Neon to up its prices and announce the introduction of advertising. We’ll find out how Kiwis respond to that.

At the same time, the mad rush of streamers to make original content and own it is now on the downward slope, with licensing programming the new mantra. After ten years of peak TV drama internationally, we seem to be just finding our feet locally with shows like Far North and After The Party (two Premium Drama projects). As we never got in on the international streamer commissioning act except for the long ago Dark Tourist, licensing might prove to be our saviour.

At the Guild, we have a new board in place filled with enthusiasm for the work in the year ahead. There’s going to be a lot.

Undoubtedly, the changes coming at NZFC will not suit everyone, and there will be discussions to be had. The ever-changing marketplace for content brings both opportunities and challenges for our members and our industry that will require our attention. The need to remain financially viable in these tough economic times for everyone, demands our focus, too. Then of course there’s the new government and what that will mean for our industry. And once again, thanks to NZFC, we have a comprehensive professional development programme to roll out in the coming year.

It’s important though to take stock of where we are at right now.

We have improved membership numbers, though we still need more to help us do our work. We have good working relationships with the funding bodies and organisations that impact our sector. Collaboration with the other guilds and associations has grown over the last few years to a point where we communicate and cooperate effectively, even with our differences.

We have many dedicated people both on and off our board who give time, expertise and knowledge voluntarily—a special thank you from me and the organisation goes out to them.

Thanks also go to the New Zealand Film Commission, New Zealand On Air, the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collection Society and Screenrights who have contributed financially to our operations and the work we did over the last year, and some, many years. While accounting firm VCFO, Resene Paints, and now Madman Entertainment make in-kind contributions or offer discounts or products that members can take advantage of.

I also wish to thank the staff who have helped me in 2023—Maddie Payne our Events and Marketing Manager, Izzi Hoskyn our Membership Coordinator, and our recently departed accounts person Caroline Harrow, who has seen the guild through three EDs in Anna Cahill, Fiona Copland and me across her 13 years working for us.

Things are crazy busy and will continue to be so for us here. We hope the same for you and that success will come with your mahi, however, it manifests itself.

We also hope that you find the time during the festive season to enjoy, rest and replenish your energy for 2024.

Ngā mihi o te wā

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 7 December 2023

The New Zealand TV Awards (NZTVA) took place on 5 December, celebrating the industry’s achievements from the past year. DEGANZ was thrilled to see so many members’ mahi on productions being recognised in the finalist list, many of which went on to receive awards.

NZ On Air Best Drama

The Gone

Director: Peter Burger (Ep 3 and 6)

Best Comedy

Educators: Season 3, Episode 1

Director: Jesse Griffin

Co-Creator: Jackie van Beek

NZ On Air Best Documentary

No Māori Allowed 

Editor: Cushla Dillion

Co-Producer: Megan Jones

Best Original Reality Series

The Walkers: Season 2 Episode 3

Editor: Huhana Ruri-Panapa

Best Format Reality Series

The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes

Editors: Tibor Riddering and Steven Chow

NZ On Air Best Children’s Programme

Mystic (Season 3)

Director: Peter Burger (Ep 5-8)

 

The Gone, co-directed by Peter Burger (DEGANZ), took home the most awards of the evening, securing a total of five wins. Along with NZ On Air Best Drama, it won the Images & Sound Best Cinematography: Drama / Comedy Drama, the Images & Sound Best Original Score, the Best Costume Design, and the Best Makeup Design awards.

Additionally, both Inky Pinky Ponky and and Educators, directed by DEGANZ members Ramon Te Wake and Jesse Griffin respectively, received acting accolades. Sesilia Pusiaki of Inky Pinky Ponky won Best Supporting Actress, while Rick Donald of Educators earned himself the Best Supporting Actor Award.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the evening!

Last updated on 11 December 2023

Congratulations, Harry Wynn (DEGANZ), for winning the Screen Production and Development Association’s (SPADA) 2023 New Filmmaker of the Year Award! SPADA grants this award to honour excellence, talent, and creativity in filmmaking.

Along with the accolade, Harry received $2,500 of development funding and a complimentary registration to next year’s SPADA Conference.

Harry has made a name for himself in the documentary space over the past few years. In 2022, he released Shred, a short about a teenage bodybuilder who takes drastic measures in pursuit of winning his first bodybuilding competition. In the same year, he produced What’s the Disibili-tea, a docu-series profiling young queer people living with disabilities in Aotearoa, directed by DEGANZ board member Justin Scott. His other titles include Young & Hooked on Chemsex, released on TVNZ+, and Three Ticks for Chlöe for the Spinoff.

Harry is currently developing his first feature-length doco with funding from Screen Australia. He also has been selected for the next round of Script to Screen’s development and mentorship programme, FilmUp.

Harry is in good company as fellow member Mia Maramara won the same award for 2021, which she was awarded at the 2022 conference last year.

Last updated on 7 December 2023

Vanessa Wells (DEGANZ) and The Climate Canary team are in the final stretch of post-production and are crowdfunding to help cross the finish line.

The 90-minute documentary highlights three remarkable women from differing generations and their scientific work in Antarctica. Oceanographer Dr Natalie Robinson leads a team of ten scientists on an epic world-first research trip to McMurdo Sound. Jacqui Stuart, a biologist and self-confessed algae geek, is on her first trip to Antarctica. Meanwhile, Emeritus Professor Patricia Langhorne mentors them both from Aotearoa after more than 25 deployments to the Poles. The film asks if meaningful social change is possible and how these women tenaciously hold onto hope. For scientists on the frontline of climate change, their surprisingly refreshing attitudes are raw and heartening.

Vanessa, as director and producer, pitched the film at the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) in the Central Showcase earlier this year, garnering interest from distributors, agents, and broadcasters.

Now, the team is adding the finishing touches, with its $10,000 stretch goal going directly to animation costs. To make the film’s complex science more accessible, the team is utilising animation to convey it in delightful and comprehensive ways.

Director and producer Vanessa says,

With NZ making some difficult u-turns in the environmental space right now, this documentary feels even more important to finish as soon as possible!

They hope to release the film in 2024.

Find out more about The Climate Canary on the Boosted page HERE!

Last updated on 7 December 2023

DEGANZ member Joe Murdie is seeking support on Boosted for his short film, Planet 13.

Set in 2093, the film takes place on a rabidly dying planet, ravaged by human activity, and devoid of natural fuel resources. With the planet on the brink of collapse, a young couple set out on a dangerous journey to secure the scarce resources needed to escape to a new world, where they can, hopefully, start afresh.

Written and to-be-directed by Joe, the film reflects on humanity’s complacency towards the state of the earth, speculating on the idea of a backup planet. The title is even a witty reference to the idea of a ‘Plan B’.

The film aims to appeal to sci-fi lovers, honing in on the dystopian space aesthetic, while also striking a chord with those who are passionate about the climate crisis.

Joe shares,

I’ve always been passionate about the environment and have worked on a number of factual pieces looking at different aspects of human impact on the earth. This film stems from the a idea of if we were too start fresh on a new planet, with our current knowledge and access to technology, etc, would we act differently?

The team is aiming to raise $25,000 to begin principal photography in February 2024. The funds will cover talent, additional crew, location permits, and specialist props, hair, and makeup costs.

Check out the Boosted campaign HERE!

Last updated on 7 December 2023