Issue date: 
Thursday, 22 July 2021

Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga The New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) today confirmed that no Government money has been given or promised to the They Are Us project, and the NZFC has had no role in the development of the concept or script.

The NZFC also reiterated that it would continue its work encouraging filmmaking in and about New Zealand by being open to every film concept brought to it by filmmakers, and attracting international production to New Zealand.

New Chief Executive David Strong said the NZFC will look at its informal treatment of early film concepts and sensitive film content.

“We will look at our tracking of engagement with filmmakers, and early evaluation of sensitive content. We also need to keep in mind our obligations as a Crown entity, to encourage films that tell New Zealand stories, to foster and develop the sector, and to respect the intellectual property rights and confidentiality of the filmmakers who approach us.”

Strong said he is comfortable that the official information released this week shows the NZFC wasn’t involved in the development of They Are Us and no public money was spent on, or promised to, the project.

“We were advised at an early stage of the concept for They Are Us, and as with the many ideas brought to us each year, we never prejudge them. A small percentage of these projects end up seeking financial and structural support, and some become iconic Kiwi films such as The World’s Fastest Indian. Many don’t progress beyond a film idea.

“Film concepts develop and change substantially, so we take no position on a film project until it becomes a formal application. We will look at what we can do earlier in response to potential projects containing sensitive subject matter but ultimately we routinely find ourselves in a position of having to respect the confidentiality of the project, especially when it is at an early stage. If we did not observe that confidentiality, we could not properly discharge our role or support the sector."

Strong added that Kiwis are very hospitable and welcoming of screen production, and the NZFC is appreciative of the overwhelming positivity from New Zealanders toward filmmaking.

“There is a lot of screen production in New Zealand at any given time, and as well as local production happening now, New Zealand also has the world’s two largest international productions being made here. Our screen industry has highly regarded creative personnel, crew, facilities, vendors, and locations as well as competitive incentives, and is valued at over $3billion per annum."

Last updated: 
Thursday, 22 July 2021