Tag Archive for: NZSPG

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For those of us in the industry we can’t help but be aware of the writers’ and actors’ strikes in the US, not only because of the impact it’s having on international productions coming into New Zealand but also because of the issues being raised, particularly when they relate to having a sustainable career.

Of the 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members on strike for three weeks now, only 10 percent of them are the actors you see working the red carpets and earning massive fees for their performances. 86 percent of their membership (136,600 members) don’t earn the US$26,000 per year required to qualify them for the guild’s health insurance. In 2022, the US Bureau of Statistics reported that the average pay for an actor in California was US$27.73/hr.

In the gig economy of the screen industry in the US where most screen workers are considered independent contractors, the residual* payments that actors used to receive prior to streaming could help them to ride through the choppy waters of no paid acting work between jobs. There’s an article showing supposedly successful actors on highly successful streaming shows and the residuals they received—cents, or sometimes a few dollars. See it here.

The 11,000 WGA members are coming up to 90 days on strike. Like SAG members, WGA members have base minimums that they cannot be paid below for the work they do. The WGA also negotiated residuals for their members. However, over time and particularly with the advent of streaming, what the majority of writers have been paid has dropped towards or onto the minimums, which were negotiated three years ago. At the same time, streaming has continued to grow and the residuals from streaming are measly, unlike what used to be earned as residuals from broadcast, cable, etc. The studios are also trying to use fewer writers to do the work required, amongst a number of other issues for the WGA.

Both guilds are also concerned about how the studios will use Artificial Intelligence to replace humans in the execution of writing and acting work.

The Directors Guild of America was able to reach a settlement that addressed their issues with streamer residuals and AI, and other claims—The reason they aren’t on strike with the writers and actors.

Sitting here in li’l ol’ New Zealand, we can only marvel at the fact that these US guilds have collective agreements in place that offer base minimums, healthcare, superannuation, and residuals amongst other benefits.

Of course, New Zealand is different from the US. We have a public health service (no matter that it’s getting worse by the year). We have accident compensation (ACC). We have a government retirement scheme, which we call ‘super’ or ‘the pension’. And we have Kiwisaver.

But if we look a little closer to home to Australia, where screen workers are generally treated like employees rather than contractors—because most screen workers don’t have the freedom of executing their work how and when they want to—we can see that ‘Fringes’, i.e. holiday pay, superannuation (our Kiwisaver), and workers compensation (our ACC) are built into production budgets and paid accordingly by the production company.

In New Zealand in the screen industry, pretty much everybody is an independent contractor, even though you are required to turn up at specific times, on specific days, just as employees are required to do.

You, the independent contractor, are required to pay your own taxes, ACC, Kiwisaver, and GST if applicable.
You have no base minimums, meaning you can be paid less than the minimum wage set for employees.

Most below-the-line crew get paid overtime, which stops their pay going below the minimum wage. That’s not the case for writers, directors (and producers), who often do unpaid or low-rate work to create the shows that crew then get hired to work on. This contributes to driving their pay rates below the minimum wage. Take a look at the just released WIFTNZ Screen Industry Gender Pay Survey here. It states that according to the census, approximately 40% of women and 28% of men in the screen industry earn less than the minimum wage.

While crew get to work on international projects where they can charge higher rates and still get their overtime payments if required to work it, it’s almost impossible for NZ above-the-liners to get onto them, apart from actors who might be able to secure supporting or minor roles—domestic production is pretty much all there is.

In New Zealand at this point, there is no established residual system that allows above-the-line creatives to earn some income from their work beyond their fees, to help get them through those times of no or unpaid work. There is, though, a mechanism for producers to gain potential additional income through being gifted equity in a production, either from the NZFC through the ‘producer corridor’ for non-NZ Screen Production Rebate (formerly NZSPG) projects, or through the 40% producer equity gifted to the producer for NZ Screen Production Rebate projects. It’s at the discretion of the producer as to whether or not they will share this equity with anybody else.

Which brings me to the Screen Industry Workers Act, of course. It’s the means by which the guilds and unions in New Zealand hope to address the pay rates, terms, and conditions for New Zealand screen workers to help them have sustainable careers—Something the US guilds have sought and continue to do for their members through decades of negotiation and collective agreements.

We at DEGANZ are preparing for our first negotiation of a collective agreement, which is likely to take place in the first half of 2024.

You can see from the picket lines of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA a visible expression of “it’s better together” not only with each guild’s members supporting their guild but with the separate guilds supporting each other.

We are going to need all your support in the preparation and negotiation ahead. So get behind us and the other guilds, too, to make it better for everyone.

*Residuals are long-term payments to those who worked on films and television shows, negotiated by unions, for reruns and other airings after the initial release.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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It was close to a year that the NZ Film Commission was without a permanent CEO. That was resolved when Head of Sky Originals Annie Murray was announced as the new CEO, replacing David Strong. The response from the industry has been overwhelmingly positive. Annie comes from a lengthy background in TV commissioning at Sky, Whakaata Māori and TVNZ. It will be interesting to see how she adapts to the very different world of film and what that means for the greenlighting of features going forward. Every NZFC CEO brings their own take to what gets funded. David Strong wasn’t around long enough for us to find out what his was. With Annabelle Sheehan, it was Māori and female-driven projects to the fore. With Dave Gibson, it was essentially genre. Graham Mason was a mix of auteur and commercial. Annie will most likely and rightly shepherd more Māori and indigenous films into existence—They are repeatedly proving themselves at the box office, after all, and there are Ti Tiriti obligations. But it will be interesting to see what else gets across the line.

Another major hindrance for the screen industry was the lack of information about what was going to happen with the funding taken from NZ On Air and given to the cancelled ANZPM (TVNZ – RNZ) entity. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ statement that more would go to public media funding when the merger was called off was decidedly opaque. Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson didn’t provide any further clarity at the recent Ngā Aho Whakaari hui when he told everyone there that RNZ funding would be dealt with first and NZ On Air funding would become clear by June. Thankfully, last Thursday, Jackson revealed the funding for both entities, with NZ on Air getting all its funding back, plus a $10m increase for 2023/24 which will focus on reaching new audiences. NZ On Air has revised the strategy it put out when the money was taken away, but it’s still very much targeted to minority communities and under-represented voices. (New investment strategy here.) There was a collective sigh of relief, but frankly, we are only back to where we were before, but with a different strategy. We are still way behind the eight ball when it comes to the opportunities in the global screen industry. The golden age of TV drama has now reached its peak and is retracting, and NZ is still not participating in it while Australia is going great guns. Strategically in this area, we are either an ostrich with our head down a hole or a chicken running around headless.

The one ray of possible sunshine in the whole mess is the outcome of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) review, which has also been going on for close to a year. The Hollywood studio lobbying group, the Australia-New Zealand Screen Association, put its best foot forward last week with the Sweet Tooth roadshow in Wellington, touting the positive economic impact of the production on the New Zealand screen industry. (See the report here.) This is another clear example of the benefit international production brings to New Zealand and the need for the international rebate to continue. However, what continues to be ignored is the opportunity to grow New Zealand talent, IP, and exports of it to global markets. Shows such as SPP’s Brokenwood Mysteries and a number of others from other production houses do find markets overseas, but the Government, their ministries, and our funding bodies aren’t doing enough to stimulate what is potentially a good revenue earner and a great cultural export. The SPG review, with the right outcome, could help change that. However, the industry’s collective voice on this seems to have fallen on deaf ears. I only hope that my pessimism about this is crushed by jubilant celebration when the review outcome is announced. Whenever the hell that is.


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



15 December 2021

The Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand (DEGANZ) welcomes the review of the New Zealand Government’s Investment in The Screen Sector.

“The screen industry is rapidly changing,” said DEGANZ President Robyn Paterson, “so it is timely that the Government is looking to better leverage its investment in the New Zealand screen industry to improve outcomes for Aotearoa’s screen workers, businesses, and our own stories.”

In 2018 the Sapere Report, ‘Evaluating the New Zealand Screen Production Grant’, highlighted a gross additional economic benefit of $542 million directly attributable to NZSPG. This was later confirmed in a review of the Sapere Report by Infometrics.

The Infometrics evaluation also supported Sapere’s findings that the NZSPG has contributed greatly to the development of the film and television industry and all of the associated activities.

“The economic benefit of the NZSPG to New Zealand is undoubted”, added Paterson. “As is the positive impact it is having on the development of parts of the New Zealand screen industry.”

“The real opportunity with this review, however, is to determine how to make it more effective for the development of local IP including with our Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations, the creation of New Zealand stories for the international market place, and the sustainability of Aotearoa’s creative workers. This includes prioritising New Zealand-led productions for the international market, and looking at ways in which international productions that choose to film here may be encouraged to employ and develop our local directors, editors and other creatives.”

Infometrics questioned the long-term sustainability of the New Zealand screen sector without the NZSPG, and pointed to the need for indirect benefits to accrue, such as skills development, technology transfer, tourism and cultural benefits.

“A revised NZSPG with an emphasis on developing and growing our domestic capability while protecting its attractiveness to international productions, can deliver increased economic, cultural, technical and employment benefits for New Zealand well into the future,” Paterson went on to say; “It’s important that we build a stronger, less vulnerable, and more sustainable local sector.”


For further information contact:

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director, Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand
021 659 950

Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand is a not-for-profit Incorporated Society and Union that represents Directors, Editors and Assistant Editors in the New Zealand screen industry. This includes Directors, Editors and Assistant Editors of feature drama and documentary; television drama, documentary and factual programmes; short films; video art; animation; commercials and web content.

DEGANZ’s two primary roles are advocacy and professional development. We:

  • are dedicated to promoting excellence in the arts of directing and editing.
  • foster collegiality and unity within the screen industry.
  • promote members’ creative and economic rights.
  • work to improve industry working conditions and remuneration.
  • offer professional advice and information on contracts and industry standards and practice.
  • offer professional development events, networking opportunities, career advice, dispute resolution, mentoring, workshops, training, discounts and regular news bulletins for members across all levels of expertise, from novices to seasoned professionals.
  • are a voice for Directors, Editors and Assistants in influencing policy in the interest of our members. We do this through our membership of various pan‐industry bodies, and by making submissions to government and public officials.
  • internationally work co-operatively with other directors’ guilds.
  • belong to the International Affiliation of English‐Speaking Directors’ Organisations, Writer’s & Directors Worldwide, Alliance of Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Writers and Directors, and the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.

DEGANZ is Auckland-based with an office in Grey Lynn.

Contact Details:
Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa NZ
Level 2, 66 Surrey Crescent
Grey Lynn
PO Box 47294, Ponsonby
+64 9 360 2102
+64 21 659 950

Glowing reviews have poured in for The Beatles: Get Back, the new docuseries from director Peter Jackson (DEGANZ). Described by some reviewers as a documentary epic, Get Back clocks in at almost eight hours in length. Yet, it’s been described as an “addictive” and “immersive” experience.

Jackson has assembled this three-part documentary entirely from never-before-seen footage of the Beatles from 1969, restored at Park Road Post Production and supported by the New Zealand Screen Production Grant.

The Beatles: Get Back streams exclusively on Disney+.