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At the end of 2021 the Government announced a review of government investment in the screen sector. The review will be led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. There is a document outlining the terms of reference for the review here.

This review is one part of a strategic review of the New Zealand screen industry, primarily focused on the New Zealand Film Commission’s direction and activity, including the New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) for both domestic and international productions. However, NZ On Air’s direction and activity obviously falls into this because of the changing nature of the shifts occurring worldwide, as well as the fact that some NZ On Air funded productions utilise the NZSPG.

Our screen industry falls into two camps: domestic production, and international production (and post-production) that takes place here.

International production as we all know provides wonderful opportunities for New Zealand crew, and brings foreign investment to New Zealand. From DEGANZ’s perspective, what it does not do is bring great opportunity for New Zealand directors and editors. Only a very select few Kiwis get to direct, and sometimes edit on these international productions, being the international drama or sometimes documentary series shot here.

While we continue to push for more Kiwi directors and editors to work on these international shows, our main focus has got be on what we can do with domestic production to tell our stories here and internationally, and employ our directors and editors—and our actors, writers, producer and crews—so that they all can have thriving and sustainable careers.

Over the next three months, MBIE and MCH will be conducting a wide consultation with the NZ public and those who make up the NZ screen sector as part of the review. DEGANZ is now formulating its thoughts to bring to MBIE and MCH.

But there is an opportunity for each of our DEGANZ members to share their own thoughts in the consultation process.

When the call comes for submissions, we will inform you. Your voice counts and we want as many of you as possible to have your voices heard. This is a really opportunity for us all to have some influence on the future direction of NZ screen.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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DEGNZ President Howard Taylor signs off.

I am retiring from my role as president of the DEGNZ. Going, but not quite gone. As required by the constitution, I will be continuing as a board member for another year to ensure a smooth transition.

I regard being on the Board of the Guild an honour and a privilege. It is also a lot of work – as my fellow board members will attest. However, I believe that giving back in this way to the industry that has given me such a wonderful career is the least we can do.

I have been on the Board since we set the Guild up 25 years ago and I have been president for five years. I turned the role down twice because I felt, rightly or wrongly, that while I had spent a lifetime in the world of television, I was not familiar enough with the film world. That changed when, having written a feature film screenplay, I took part in a year-long course in international co-production of features. The new-found knowledge gave me the confidence to finally say yes to the role of president.

I am a great believer in Guilds and the role they play in the industry. The lobbying we do on our members behalf is very often unseen. There is a tendency for government and industry bodies like the NZFC to listen to producers and either forget the creatives or assume that producers speak for everyone. The voice of the director (and editor) in the debates that arise is vital.

While it would be wonderful for us all to have the freedom implied by the fact that film is an artform, we are constrained by the pressures of the commercial world. Those pressures impact us directly as an erosion of conditions and fees. The Guild has a key role in protecting what we currently have and promoting improvements. This will be tested when we put on our Union hat and go into negotiation with SPADA to negotiate minimum rates and conditions as set out in the new Screen Industry Worker legislation.

The Guild’s role in providing education and skills training to members is important in an industry where most training is for beginners.

Directors live in silos. It’s many years since I was on another director’s set. Watching other directors work is a valuable learning experience and it’s great the DEGNZ can give directors (and editors) that opportunity.

What I value most is the sense of fraternity that Guild membership brings. We look after each other. Yes, we are competitors for jobs, but in my experience the willingness of directors and editors to lend a hand to their fellows trumps any sense of competition. Guild membership gives me a sense of connectedness to the screen industry that I have never found anywhere else.

The Guild has evolved hugely over the years, becoming a sophisticated organisation dealing with a plethora of active issues. I am proud of what the Guild has achieved and look forward to its robust and noisy future. Kia kaha.

Howard Taylor
(Ex.) President

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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

DEGNZ

On June 24th, Executive Director Tui Ruwhiu made an oral submission to the Select Committee in support of DEGNZ’s written submission on the Screen Industry Workers Bill. If you would like to watch the live Facebook recording, you can view it here. DEGNZ’s oral submission plays from 28:54 to 40:15.

 

Screen Industry Workers Bill

The Screen Industry Workers Bill

We are just over a week away from the Monday 25 May deadline for public submissions to the select committee.

In order to see pay and working conditions improve for you and others working in the industry, we need every DEGNZ member to have their say on the Screen Industry Workers Bill that Government has introduced to Parliament. It’s vital for us to see this Bill go through as it will allow DEGNZ to collectively bargain for minimum rates and terms and conditions for all directors, editors and assistant editors.

Consider this: in its first reading in the House, 63 MPs voted for the bill, and 57 voted against. Your submission will help MPs understand what it’s like working in the industry and why this law change matters.

The law change would replace the controversial ‘Hobbit Law’, an amendment rushed through Parliament that classified all film workers as ‘independent contractors’, unable to bargain collectively and receive other benefits associated with being an employee.

To help you make your submission, we’ve published information and a submission template on this campaign page.

Hobbit Law Cartoon