NZFC an 'adversary', according to report

Peter Jackson and AFTRS Centre for Screen Business director David Court have delivered a report of their review of the New Zealand Film Commission to Arts Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson.

NZFC board chair Patsy Reddy said she was “concerned” because the report indicated that some practitioners feel the Commission is a barrier to their filmmaking aspirations, while the reporters recommended the NZ Government to pay “close attention” to Australia’s changes to incentives because “we do often compete for the same offshore productions”.

“An ‘us and them’ attitude; this was the most common concern, referenced by the majority of people we spoke to. They described the Commission as essentially an adversary,” said Jackson and Court in the report.

“It’s a tough position we’re in – there’s never enough money to go around. But we believe we can do better.  We have already been talking to filmmakers during the course of this review about ways to improve our work with them,” said Reddy in a statement.

“Under the leadership of a new CEO and chair many of the operational and governance changes suggested by therReport are already being addressed.  The board and staff will now focus on how best to develop a long term game plan which takes account of the Report’s recommendations to focus on identifying, supporting and rewarding talent.”

Jackson and Court were in charge of the review, which took almost one year.

“Rather than be strictly focused on reviewing and assessing the Commission’s performance over the past 30 years, we have looked to the future, and suggested ways that the Commission might operate more effectively,” said the reviewers.

Finlayson said the review confirms the need for aNew Zealand Film Commission, but it also makes suggestions such as:

  • A more strategic long-term vision, allowing more flexibility;
  • A focus on talent rather than projects;
  • A larger internal development team;
  • Reviving short film funding as part of a strategy for developing talent;
  • Relaxing the reliance on producer-centred projects;
  • Continuing the Screen Production Incentive Fund;
  • Additional funding for the New Zealand Film Archive;
  • Division of responsiblity between NZFC staff and the board.

There were also comments about the 2011 review of NZ’s Large Budget Screen Production & PDV incentives, particularly the need to keep them competitive against Australia’s and other countries’:

“[The 2011 review] will follow on the heels of the current Australian Government review of the Australian Screen Production Incentive scheme. The Australian industry reportedly is lobbying hard for substantial increases in the value of its location and PDV incentives,” says the report.

It refers to Australia’s recent changes to the Location and PDV incentives:

“It’s too early to say how these changes will affect NZ film making, but we do often compete for the same offshore productions. The Government should pay close attention to this.”

Finlayson will consult with the NZFC and the Minister for Economic Development Gerry Brownlee, before taking his recommendations to the Cabinet.

The full report is available here.

Encore contacted Screen Australia’s publicist to ask for comment from former NZFC CEO and current Screen Australia CEO Ruth Harley, but the spokesperson said Harley had not read the report in detail and, having been away for almost two years, she didn’t feel it was appropriate to comment.

Encore also asked if Screen Australia is doing something to prevent this kind of  ‘us and them’ environment.

“We don’t believe it appropriate to comment on activities in another country,” said the spokesperson.


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