I’ve been around on this planet for quite a while now and I’ve never experienced a crazier time.
Uncertainty seems to be the biggest challenge, at a personal, work and global level, whether it’s war, climate change, the future of the New Zealand screen industry, or just being able to connect with family and friends in person.
I have a hobby that keeps me sane, allows me to put worries aside and just focus on something that both fully occupies my mind and gives me joy… for a while.
There is one thing that seems pretty certain though, and that is that we are going to be living with COVID. Numerous friends and colleagues have come down with it. I fortunately have not so far. Nor has anybody else at the Guild.
After a long period of online engagement, we are shifting our strategy around workshops, just as the Government is also changing the boundaries around events and gatherings. We’ll be holding them more regularly in person. We’ll use RAT tests as one means to help minimise spread, and stay abreast of COVID developments so that we can readjust rapidly again if necessary.
The NZFC is also looking to re-engage with the world in a shift to a new normal. They will people an office at the Cannes Film Festival and Market this May following a three-year ban on international travel. As well, NZFC CEO David Strong and some staff will take a marketing mission to LA shortly to leverage off the success of Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog, seeking to attract more international production to New Zealand.
The attractiveness of New Zealand to international productions relies in large part on the New Zealand Screen Production Grant incentive. And that incentive along with all other Government investment in the screen sector is up for review as I wrote about last newsletter. Please speak up when the times comes, so that Government hears your views.
Both international and domestic productions in New Zealand are now accustomed to living with COVID. Testing, crew replacement for illness, temporary shutdowns and other adaptive measures are all part of screen production life here. Thankfully, a new round of screen production recovery funding from MCH has become available, so that many NZ productions have a fallback or financial guarantee for production to go ahead—that nagging uncertainty at least for a time, in abeyance.
Many other things on our plate at the Guild remain in various states of flux, however. The interminable delay of the Copyright Act Review continues. The on-again off-again nature of the Screen Industry Workers Bill is… on-again for present. The Reform of Vocational Education on the industry side has slowed down while Toi Mai, the new Workforce Development Council whose responsibility includes the screen sector, finds its feet.
One thing we can be sure of, though, the TVNZ – RNZ merger will go ahead… maybe.