Tag Archive for: NZFC

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NZ On Air’s Where Are the Audiences Survey 2023 confirmed what previous reports have been warning of—the death of linear television in New Zealand. (WATA research here.)

Three telling points were highlighted in the document that attest to this:

• All traditional media continue to show consistently declining audiences, with TV no longer attracting the biggest audiences during its traditional peak time of 6-10.30pm.
• For the first time the study is showing significant declines in traditional media use among 60+ year olds, and 40-59 year olds are now at the cross-over point where digital media audiences overtake traditional media.
• 2023 also represents the cross-over point when New Zealanders overall start to spend more time using digital media than traditional media.

I’m in one of those older demographics, and I can tell you that I spend more time watching YouTube than I do watching broadcast TV.

If you look at the most popular channels, sites and stations graph, you can see that I’m one of the people who has in 2023 made YouTube the biggest attractor of New Zealand audiences each day at 44%, with Netflix sitting just behind at 42%. TVNZ 1 has gone from 48% in 2014 to 34%, while TVNZ 2 doesn’t even do well enough to get on the graph, at 11%–a death rattle if ever I’ve heard one. TV3 is the bottom player on the graph, going from 34% in 2014 to 17% this year. The rising TikTok sits two percentage points above at 19%. No wonder NZ On Air is throwing money at TikTok in pursuit of the elusive yoof audience.

New Zealand’s bastion of commercial TV media, our public broadcaster TVNZ, after a post -COVID advertising recovery under the canny watch of former CEO Kevin Kenrick, is in throes of its own. With a projected loss of $15.6 million in the 2023/2024 year due to slumping advertising revenue, the belts there are being severely tightened. Head of Drama and Scripted Comedy Steve Barr got the push under a restructure, and now Chief Transformation Officer Kate Calver (Slater) has left to take up the CEO role at Great Southern TV. A positive for TVNZ is that TVNZ+ on the NZ on Air graph has seen its audience reach grow from 14% in 2016 to 32% in 2023, sitting just under TVNZ 1. I think some acknowledgement for this needs to go to former TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis and his digital strategist Simon Aimer, who drove TVNZ into the digital era with their “Inspiring on Every Screen” strategy. With an interim CEO still in place after the departure of Simon Powell following the collapse of the RNZ – TVNZ merger, and a new chair in current NZFC Chair Alastair Carruthers, there’s undoubtedly more transformation to come in that balliwick.

Back at the NZFC ranch, Dana Youngman has been appointed Change Manager by new NZFC CEO Annie Murray, to bring about transformation that the filmish screen industry has been baying for, for years. Change there is also driven by the recent budget cuts NZFC has suffered or will face in the near future. We shall find out what comes in this space in the not-to-distant future, but for the time being we’ll just have to wait… like we’ve been doing since Annabelle Sheehan departed in 2021.

Competition has seen Netflix and some other streamers on the advertising-driven bandwagon for some time now. Netflix has just introduced title sponsorships and binge ads to its advertising offerings. At the same time, its subscription prices for their ad-carrying service and their ad-free service have gone up in the US and will soon in the UK, France, and undoubtedly elsewhere. It’s ironic when you think about it: you used to get advertising for nothing on Free to Air TV. Now you have to pay for it on advertising-carrying subscriber services.

Consolidation is coming in the streamer world is the catch cry we hear more and more these days. We are also being told that peak TV is over, with streamer budgets and commissioning shrinking. Not only has NZ completely missed the Golden Age of Television Drama globally, but it’s become increasingly harder for us to play catch up with the same old or decreasing domestic budgets–we shall see if the New Zealand Screen Production Rebate changes this.

Exacerbating the uncertainty for the NZ screen industry is the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. I’ve heard international productions are backed up, wanting to get into NZ to shoot. Yes, the writers are writing but nothing can be done without actors. The actors’ down-tools has gone past the 100-day mark with no real end in sight. Both the guilds and the studios while still talking do seem to be at considerable loggerheads.

I guess the only thing to do at this point is to smile and sing a little tune:

Try not to get worried, try not to turn on to
Problems that upset you, oh
Don’t you know
Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s fine…

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

NZFC announced their August funding decisions, with multiple DEGANZ members attached to projects as writer/directors.

Feature Film Production Investment



Logline: Experience the unstoppable force of Jonah Lomu, the greatest rugby player to walk the planet, whose indomitable spirit reshaped the game forever.

Writers/Directors: Vea Mafile’o and Gavin Fitzgerald

Early Development Funding Decisions



Logline: When a wealthy doctor suffers a serious stroke, the perfect lives of his wife and entitled adult children are turned upside down. But when they discover he has a secret family, all hell breaks loose.

Writer/Director: Jesse Griffin



Logline: Struggling to accept the disability that detonated her Olympic dream, an ambitious low-vision cyclist finds a tandem pilot to steer her to victory, but their co-dependent relationship soon veers violently off-course.

Writer/Director: Pennie Hunt (Incubator 2020)


You can find the rest of the funding decisions on the NZFC website.

NZFC announced the funding decisions for new productions to come, featuring many DEGANZ members on new and existing productions.

Extended Screen Production Recovery Fund

Boy Eats God

Short Film; $8,250

Writer/Director: Litia Tuiburelevu

Moving Houses Series 2

Series Doc; $71,094

Directors: Roz Mason, Emily Qereqeretabua

Feature Film Finishing Grant

These films received funding in time to screen during NZIFF this year.

The Paragon


Writer/Director/Producer: Michael Duignan

Red Mole: A Romance


Writer/Director/Producer: Annie Goldson

Grant Sheehan: Light, Ghosts & Dreams


Writer/Director/Producer: Robin Greenberg

Early Development & Documentary Development Funding

Elephant Kisses

Drama; $25,000

Director: Rouzie Hassanova

Sisters Jess and Rosa take their beloved dog Maxx on a quest to find the magical elephant Mythra that can cure animals, but to succeed they need the help of best friends Denny and Natalie.


Documentary; $20,000

Producer/Director: Rebecca Tansley

The story of how two Samoan brothers sang their way from South Auckland to the world’s greatest opera stages – and into audiences’ hearts.

Te Puhi

Drama; $10,000

Writer/Director: Cian Elise-White

Aotearoa, New Zealand 1962. Te Puhi (18) is crowned Miss New Zealand claiming international fame overnight for being the first Māori to do so. Torn between whānau and dreams of winning the Miss World title in London, Te Puhi goes on a journey of self-discovery and love.

The Lie of the Land

Drama; $25,000

Director: Caroline Bell Booth

In the isolated and unforgiving high country of Otago, two dutiful farmer’s wives break free from the life expected of them, when they risk everything to be together.


Congrats to all funding recipients; we look forward to seeing these projects progress!

Earlier this month, The New Zealand Film Commission released its May funding decisions. Congratulations to DEGANZ members Gwen Isaac and Katherine McRae, whose projects were two of the three applications successful in receiving the Feature Film Finishing Grant.

Ms. Information, a documentary feature directed by Gwen, focuses on polarising microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles. The pink-haired scientist stepped into the media spotlight during the coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand, resulting in the public’s mixed responses. For production, the crew followed Siouxsie for the two consecutive years of her public service. It reveals what women in power are forced to deal with and challenges the viewer’s perception of misinformation. As the film’s logline says, “Being a woman, expert, and leader can be a dangerous formula in dangerous times.” 

Katherine’s Pacific Mother explores what choices women have when giving birth. The documentary follows the free-driver Sachiko Fukumoto as she navigates the impersonal default systems of maternity. In her search for alternatives, she reconnects with mothers across the Pacific to reclaim traditional birthing knowledge. It will screen at this year’s DocEdge festival in Auckland on 3 June and in Wellington on 8 June.

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This week sees the marking of two significant days on the annual calendar: World Intellectual Property Day and World Day for Safety and Health at Work. Two things close to the heart of DEGANZ.

Copyright is an expression of Intellectual Property. Copyright. It’s something that directors do not have under the New Zealand Copyright Act. In the Act, the copyright in cinematographic film and audiovisual content is vested in “the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the making of the recording or film are undertaken.” This is interpreted as the producer. At the Guild, we have been pursuing copyright for directors for more than 20 years. In 2007, the Screen Directors Guild of NZ came close but ultimately lost out when Treasury determined that copyright for directors sat outside the terms of reference for the Copyright Act Review.

More recently in 2018, the Government again launched a review of the Copyright Act. We made considerable effort at this time to lobby for changes to the Act to recognise directors as authors and thereby gain copyright. In 2021, the Government decided that changes to the Act were going to be too hard and so dropped the review. We are still waiting for the review to come around again. All this said, we still celebrate and acknowledge the importance of intellectual property in the creative sector as it relates to visual artists, writers and composers, particularly in the face of threats on IP posed by digital content.

In our industry, we have been aware for decades of the high levels of stress and the impacts on physical, mental and psychological wellbeing that affects health at work and outside of it. Very little was done about this, however, until we were hit by the COVID global pandemic. In the first lockdown, DEGANZ and the other guilds and associations worked together to provide access to mental health help for screen workers. This came to an end in 2022, but the issue for us did not go away. Casting Director Miranda Rivers has launched a personal crusade to address wellbeing in the screen sector. ScreenSafe has taken up the baton on this as well and is working with Miranda to firstly conduct a survey to take the temperature on wellness amongst screen workers,  which will be conducted in the coming weeks. This will be a first step as part of a long process to improve and address health at work, amongst other personal safety issues we all face. DEGANZ board member and director Caroline Bell-Booth is leading DEGANZ’s efforts around this and will be a point of contact going  forward for both members and those working to address the issues.

A final comment in regard to the big announcement today about the retirement of COO Mladen Ivancic from the New Zealand Film Commission.

Mladen has been a rock at the NZFC in all the years I have had dealings with the organisation, both as a producer and as head of the Guild. In times when the organisation has been without a CEO, Mladen has kept the ship steady. He is universally liked, has been unfailingly polite and kind, done his job well, and will be sorely missed by all of us who knew and worked with him. We wish him well in his new endeavours.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director