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The biggest change ever to happen to the New Zealand screen industry is fast approaching. No, it’s not the merger of TVNZ and Radio NZ. It’s the Screen Industry Workers Bill (SIWB).

Before the end of the year, the SIWB is almost certain to become legislation.

Representative bodies for all workers in the screen industry, and DEGANZ is one of them, will engage with the Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA) and perhaps others once the Bill becomes an Act, to negotiate collective agreements that will set minimum terms and conditions under which contract screen workers will carry out their work.

Writers, Actors, Directors, DOPs, Production Designers, Editors, Visual Effects Artists, Sound Engineers, Composers, Grips, Gaffers, Makeup Artists, Wardrobe Designers—the list goes on to cover every contractor involved in making Film, TV, Games and Advertising, with a few exceptions.

Everybody in those roles being negotiated for will get a say in deciding the terms and conditions for their roles, if they want, through a democratic voting process that will cover members of guilds and non-members alike.

These agreements will be for both domestic productions, and international productions shooting here.

The agreements will be baseline agreements, meaning terms and conditions cannot be any less than what is negotiated. However, those terms and conditions can be improved upon through Enterprise (individual productions) and Individual Contracts. Where there are no Enterprise or Individual Contracts, the collective agreements will apply.

Most people in the New Zealand screen industry have never experienced collective agreements in their roles. The change the SIWB will bring about is perhaps the biggest to happen now and into the future for screen.

Misinformation and disinformation about the Bill could well play a part from here on in. So it behoves everybody in the screen industry to get the facts about the SIWB, because it is going to affect every one of you directly.

From here on in, guilds, associations and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will be running education programmes to not only inform screen workers but also the general public about what is happening.

A simple explainer is available here.

The detail of the Bill will shortly be finalised and will go back to the House for its Second Reading. Then amendments will be made through Supplementary Order Papers with the changes recommended by Minister Michael Wood before finally being passed into law with Third Reading.

Once the Bill is passed, there will be some work to ensure that everyone working in the screen industry has a contract in writing that sets out some mandatory conditions to deal with sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination and a clause dealing with fair termination. After that it will take some time before DEGANZ sits down with SPADA to negotiate the collective contract setting out the minimums for pay and working conditions for our occupational groups, but we need to start getting ready now.

I encourage all DEGANZ members to make the utmost effort to understand the SIWB because it will be vitally important to your futures.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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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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Yesterday I was sitting all day on line in the National Affiliates Conference of the Council of Trade Unions.

There were three of us from the screen industry. Teachers, nurses, forestry workers, maritime workers, supermarket workers and everybody else who makes up the New Zealand workforce were also represented.

Every time I join these union discussions it brings home the fact that the screen industry is so entirely different from many others.

We are made up almost exclusively of contractors not employees. We are not protected by the Employment Relations Act. We don’t have collective bargaining. We go predominantly from short-term job to short-term job. We don’t get holiday pay. We can end up working below the minimum wage. These are just some of the differences.

But many of us are very fortunate in comparison to large numbers of employees in other sectors. Most of us love the work we do. We are engaged in a creative industry where self-expression is encouraged. A good number of people in our industry are well-paid at levels above the living wage.

Yes, not everything is great about our work situations and things could be better. That’s where the Screen Industry Workers Bill comes in. If we can get it across the line, and it looks like we will, then all of the guilds will be able to set minimum terms and conditions in negotiations with engagers (producers/production companies), both at an occupation level—for directors, editors, gaffers, grips, VFX supervisors, etc.—and hopefully at an enterprise level (individual productions). It will be a game changer.

The Government is also seeking a game changer for other industries through the Fair Pay Agreements, which they are working on now.

Fair Pay Agreements are kind of the Screen Industry Workers Bill for everybody else. You can read more about them here.

While it might seem like workers in other sectors have good representation and are able to collectively negotiate minimums and terms and conditions, that’s not the case. The Fair Pay Agreements system is designed to address that, introducing a means for sector wide collective agreements.

The Screen Industry Workers Bill, if it goes through, will be the first legislation in New Zealand to allow collective bargaining for contractors, which at this point is illegal, as it is seen as collusion and price fixing under New Zealand’s Commerce Act. The Commerce Act will be changed to allow collective bargaining for contractors to occur. Other contractors like Uber drivers and courier drivers are watching us with interest. It may be that the FPAs make allowance for contractors—still being discussed.

Ourselves, the New Zealand Writers Guild and Equity New Zealand have just finished a series of workshops around the country, thanks to the financial support of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). We covered off on the Screen Industry Workers Bill amongst other topics. We were pleased with the turnout, but there are still so many screen industry workers who need to understand the significant impact the Bill will have on them, and how important it is for them to participate in the democratic process that will occur as we go through negotiations.

Please help us spread the word about this important work by reading about the Screen Industry Worker Bill yourself if you haven’t already, and passing on the information in the links following:

  • First reading of the draft legislation in Parliament –videos of political party responses HERE
  • Written Submissions to the Education & Workforce Select Committee close –all written submission HERE
  • NZWG Written Submission to the Select Committee HERE
  • DEGNZ Written Submission to the Select Committee HERE
  • Equity Written Submission to select Committee HERE
  • Oral Submissions presented to the Education & Workforce Select Committee HERE
  • Select Committee report to Parliament HERE
  • You can read the Screen Industry Workers Bill in full HERE
  • Keep updated on the progress of the Bill HERE

Everybody has a part to play in helping New Zealand’s screen industry grow up and become a professional sector that encourages fair treatment, terms and conditions for all its workers.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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It has been a big year for DEGNZ and the Screen Industry.

At the Guild we have unionised, and we have recently been accepted by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) as an affiliate. We are now well poised to represent New Zealand directors and editors in negotiations over minimum rates and terms and conditions should the proposed legislation go through next year that will allow collective bargaining for contractors. There are a number of other key benefits to our unionising. We are much more closely aligned with the New Zealand Writers Guild and Equity New Zealand, both of who are also unions and affiliates of the CTU. As representatives of three of the four above-the-line creatives, we have many common interests when it comes to our relationships with producers. The CTU has experience, expertise and resources we can call upon. And internationally, we now have have equal status with the Directors Guild of America, the Directors Guild of Canada and the Australian Directors Guild, who are also labour unions.

DEGNZ became a founding member of the Alliance of Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Writers and Directors (AAPA) following DEGNZ’s attendance in May at the General Assembly of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) and the Executive Committee Meeting of Writers and Directors Worldwide (W & DW). This has already paid dividends with the Director General of CISAC Gadi Oron here last week to help us lobby the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Kris Faafoi and others over director’s copyright and fair remuneration for authors as the Copyright Act Review continues. Gadi is a lawyer and copyright expert and brings an important international perspective to the deliberations.

The Guild continues to input into the Film Industry Working Group (FIWG) as drafting of the proposed legislation to go to the House is finalised, and we have made considerable effort to put our views across as the NZ Screen Sector Strategy 2030 has gone about its work. DEGNZ board member Michael Duignan has played an important role with the Strategy as a member of its Facilitation Group.

DEGNZ worked closely with Equity as it updated its Guidelines for Nudity and Intimacy on Stage and Screen, and Guild board member and South Island representative Louise Leitch went through the full training conducted by UK Intimacy Coordinator Ita O’Brien on best practise guidelines for intimacy, simulated sex and nudity on set. Louise ran her first workshop for this in Christchurch in November, and we will look to her to continue this work so that all directors can have the opportunity to upskill in this critical area. As well, we maintain ongoing feedback to the Screen Women Action Group (SWAG) as it goes about its efforts to change the culture that enables bullying, harassment, discrimination and other abuses of power over women in the screen industry.

2019 was the third year we ran the Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator to help address the poor numbers of women directing feature films in New Zealand, and to help female directors advance their projects and careers. We have now seen 23 women go through the Incubator to date and there has been good progress:

  • One has made her first feature,
  • one has just received production finance for her first feature,
  • one has gone on to work regularly as a TV drama director
  • one has moved into directing commercials as she continues to pursue feature directing,
  • one has entered the Shortland Street Directors Programme,
  • one will direct her first TV drama on a U.S. series next year,
  • two have entered the NZ Advertising Producer Guild’s Female Commercial Director Mentorship Programme

and all the others are driving forward on their careers and projects. We still have a ways to go to address the inequities in the numbers of women having sustainable careers as directors, but we are making some headway.

We maintain an extensive professional development programme for directors and editors. In particular, we have honed in on post production workflow and assistant editors as this has proven to be a problematic area because of the technical knowledge and skill required to ensure projects run effectively and eficiently. Our work on this has been driven by our three editor board members Annie Collins, Francis Glenday and Margot Francis. These three are also shaping the  standard feature film editor agreement we plan to make available in the first quarter of 2020.

As we close out the year we have just learned that Minister Faafoi will not be making an announcement about the future of TVNZ and RNZ. We expect that the merger will go ahead but there is obviously a significant cost associated with this, and it will be on an annual basis, not a one-off. The article on the RNZ website today mooted the possibility of increased funding for NZ On Air. This would be welcomed by many, as would an increase in funding for NZFC who have far greater calls on monies than their budget allows for. We shall have to wait and see.

I want to thank the membership for their continued support of the Guild in 2019. DEGNZ is committed as our slogan says to the creative, financial and cultural wellbeing of New Zealand directors and editors. We have a dynamic board in President Howard Taylor, Vice President Louise Leitch, Treasurer Phil Gore, and board members Annie Collins, Michael Duignan, Margot Francis, Francis Glenday, Roseanne Liang, Robyn Paterson and Gabriel Reid who work voluntarily and tirelessly on our behalves and have been tremendous support to me throughout the year.

I also want to thank my Events and Marketing Manager Tema Pua and Accounts person Caroline Harrow who keep the Guild operations functioning smoothly.

Thanks also go to the other guilds and associations we have worked with across the year, whether it be in our workshops, seminars and networking and social functions, or on the bigger picture representations we have made such as the FIWG and Screen Sector Strategy. We are all in this together even though we may have different perspectives and positions.

Finally, I want to extend our gratitude to our core financial supporters the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air,  Vista Foundation and the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collection Society, without who we would not be able to deliver many of the services we do, and to our other sponsors accounting firm VCFO Group and Dominion Law.

Wishing you all a Meri Kirihimete and a Happy New Year for 2020!

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director