March 19, 2018

Film Industry Working Group announced

The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway today announced the establishment of a Film Industry Working Group, facilitated by Linda Clark, to find a fit-for purpose way to restore workers’ rights in the screen industry. The Working Group is made up of key industry players like Film Auckland, as well as BusinessNZ and the Council of Trade Unions.

“This Government is determined that all New Zealand workers get a fair go, including film workers,” says Mr Lees-Galloway.

“The 2010 ‘Hobbit law’ meant film production workers were treated as independent contractors, unless they are party to a written employment agreement that states they are employees. This effectively denied them rights enjoyed by other workers in New Zealand. Contractors do not have the right to bargain collectively under the Employment Relations Act.

“New Zealand must have a highly skilled and innovative economy that provides well-paid, decent jobs, and delivers on economic growth and productivity,” says Mr Lees-Galloway. “To achieve these outcomes, working people need a voice in their workplace through collective bargaining.

“The industry has agreed to work collaboratively to find a durable solution to restore collective bargaining rights for film production workers, without necessarily changing the status of those who wish to continue working as independent contractors.”

March 19, 2018

TVNZ bosses say sexual harassment policies up to scratch

TVNZ's boss is confident its workplace policies safeguard against the kind of sexual harassment revealed to be plaguing the entertainment industry overseas and says there's no gender pay gap between its presenters.

The assurances were made by chair Dame Therese Walsh and chief executive Kevin Kenrick to a select committee on Thursday morning as part of the public broadcaster's annual review.

Kenrik said it was "naive" to think there had never been an issue with sexism in TVNZ's history, but the board was happy with the organisation's current culture....

March 19, 2018

Govt too upbeat about AI - Ben Reid from the Artificial Intelligence Forum

Ben Reid from the Artificial Intelligence Forum said the country needed to have an open conversation about the impact of AI on the workforce.

"Yes, artificial intelligence is going to have a significant impact on the job market.

"New Zealand really does need to start having an open conversation. There will be some people who do find it hard to retrain, and I think society - and industry - need to have open conversations about how we support those people in the future."

Mr Boyd said the government was guilty of being too upbeat about AI, seeing it as a tool for economic growth, and downplaying the huge disruption likely to follow....

March 19, 2018

RNZ and NZ on Air are battling over Labour’s $38m media funding windfall

Redactions which disappeared due to a technical glitch point to a standoff which pits NZ on Air and the big private media companies against RNZ. The stakes? A huge funding boost which could shape the future of our media.

A standoff is brewing between RNZ and NZ on Air over who will control the annual $38m in additional media funding likely to be revealed in the Labour-led coalition’s first budget this May. Cabinet and Terms of Reference papers reveal the makeup of the panel convened to look at the allocation of this funding, and investigate the role of a public media funding commission. The documents had a number of redactions, thought all were able to be copied and pasted. What is behind the black bars hints at the shape of the media turf war.

At stake is who controls the money, which has profound implications for the future of public media funding in New Zealand. Currently NZ on Air dominates the space, receiving around $130m a year, with around $30m of that earmarked for RNZ. Labour announced prior to the election its desire to see RNZ expand its work in digital and television, a service it dubbed RNZ+. To help accomplish this there will likely be $152m allocated over four years – which, if RNZ were to receive it all, would more than double the organisation’s current budget.

The issue is the role NZ On Air plays in the allocation of content funding – whereby all platforms aside from RNZ apply for budget from a contestable pool, currently dominated by projects for television. The larger private print media companies in New Zealand are understood to be keen on maximising the contestable portion of the $38m for their digital platforms. The cabinet paper notes that the current commercial environment is “straining the business models of private and other commercial media companies… threatening their ability to practice journalism in depth.”

On the other side of the debate sits RNZ, which is believed to favour a direct allocation of some or all of the funds. While the public broadcaster’s relationship with NZ on Air is thought to remain on good terms, the funding system is already convoluted. At present RNZ has three paymasters: NZ on Air, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and Treasury. Why, some have asked, look to add another layer through Labour’s mooted public media funding commission? ....

March 19, 2018

Anabelle Sheahan, the new CEO of the NZ Film Commission

Anabelle Sheehan took over the role at the start of this year, after three years at the SA Film Corporation.

She is not the first example of cross-fertilisation in public sector screen production bodies.

Sheehan took over the New Zealand role at the start of this year, having spent three years at the South Australian Film Corporation.

It is the latest step in a screen industry career that has encompassed post-production, talent management and a key role in the education sector.

At the NZFC, Sheehan replaces the businessman Dave Gibson who overhauled the film body with incentives and who developed New Zealand co-production ties with China.

From 2009 to 2013 the NZFC was run by Australian film executive Graeme Mason after replacing Dr Ruth Harley.

There has been plenty cross-pollination of acting talent between the two countries – John ClarkSam NeillJohn Bach among them – people who were drawn to the scale of Australian TV.....



March 19, 2018

Kumeu Film Studios is a newly converted screen production complex just 25 minutes from central Auckland

The 27-hectare site (66.7 acres) includes extensive stage, workshop and manufacture spaces, production offices, 12 hectares of forest, and two water tanks – both are the only water tanks of this size and type in New Zealand.  

In an industry event, Film Aukcland Inc. and Screen Auckland hosted screen practitioners and businesses in a tour the studios.

Chair of Film Auckland, Alex Lee together with Michael Brook, Screen Attraction Manager of Screen Auckland, welcomed the visitors along with Anabelle Sheahan, the new CEO of the NZ Film Commission. The industry also met the owners of the land and developers of the studios, the Ryu Family.

The 200 odd guests were shown across the facilities and too the opportunity to mix and mingle with each other.