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.