The Board are very aware of the significant losses and hardships experienced by the screen sector at this time. COVID-19 shut down 47 New Zealand productions when the global pandemic required the Government to move New Zealand into Alert Level 4. These projects were all in various stages of completion: productions scheduled for theatrical release, those in post-production, and many in production itself and those with offers of finance. While in lockdown, the NZFC staff has, worked with producers and their production and market partners through what has been a very difficult time for the film industry. Even in Alert Level 3, there is still much uncertainty, and many unknowns, for us all. There were also thousands of New Zealand crew working on international productions who are waiting for projects to recommence. We are working with government regarding all the ways that conditions and regulations can support start up for New Zealand and international production.
The regular NZFC Board meeting went ahead on Thursday 30 April and papers summarising the range of industry work and the outcomes for programmes confirms the resilience and creativity of the New Zealand screen sector. We are thankful for the partnership of the guilds and industry organisations and of working groups such as the COVID-19 industry group. We want industry to know we support you, and that the staff are working to ensure NZFC programmes and guidelines can address the challenges the industry faces. We want to get production back up and running as soon as possible.
The CEO and the NZFC team continue to advise the Ministry for Culture & Heritage on the needs of the screen sector for the Cultural Rescue Package and other regulatory considerations. They are also working hard to find a solution to best manage the underwriting of risk now that insurers have excluded COVID-19.
The challenges and difficulties of working during this time are being experienced globally, and we hope everyone remains safe and healthy over the next two week period, and in the near future we can all get back to the job of making great New Zealand films and screening them to appreciative audiences.
And here’s all the news from the NZFC:
LIVE Q&A EVENT APRIL 28
On Tuesday, around 300 people attended the NZFC Q&A live session with CEO Annabelle Sheehan, Head of Production and Development Leanne Saunders and Pou Whakahaere Karen Waaka-Tibble answering questions about the industry during COVID-19, Boost, Boost Up and Te Rautaki Maori. A recording of the Q&A event is now available on our website, and we look forward to announcing our next live Q&A event.
COVID-19 PRODUCTION: ScreenSafe Health and Safety COVID-19 Production Toolkit
The NZFC and industry groups are committed to getting New Zealand into production as safely and as soon as possible. ScreenSafe and the Screen Industry Guild have been working closely with industry specialists and consulting with WorkSafe on the development of the ScreenSafe Health and Safety COVID-19 Production Toolkit, which includes screen sector standard and protocols documents. This work has been supported with funding from the NZFC and is being consulted with industry and reviewed for endorsement by WorkSafe. The standard represents the minimum expectations of each production. Productions are required by WorkSafe to align with the standard and protocols via their own COVID-19 site specific plan.
For those of you who wish to start production under Alert Level 3, it is advised you submit your COVID-19 specific protocols, health and safety plans and site-specific plan to WorkSafe for auditing to: Melanie.Dale@worksafe.govt.nz
Useful resources and templates for all workplaces can meanwhile be found here.
The draft screen standard and protocols can be found here.
CANNES VIRTUAL MARKET
While the NZFC staff work hard to get productions up and running and champion the industry to Government for increased support and awareness, the international business side of sales and marketing film continue. Whilst the Cannes Film Festival has been postponed, the Marche du Film, which runs alongside the Festival, will operate virtually this year from June 22 – 26.
The NZFC’s strategy is to have a wealth of projects ready to go when productions are cleared to move forward again, and the Marketing team has been coordinating online meetings between New Zealand producers and international sales agents. These meetings mirror the speed-dating meetings held during Cannes in-situ and are for producers with projects in very advanced development ready for global market consideration.
New Zealand is also a participant in the virtual version of Cannes Docs this year, with four documentaries in post-production or close to completion selected to present and screen ten minutes of their films to sales agents, buyers and film festival programmers.
Marketing and the International Relations team are also discussing with our sister agencies co-production 1:1 meetings for producers. They are also talking to the organisers of the US indies packaging and financing market running parallel to the official virtual market.
Over this period of locked borders, and enforced isolation for those entering New Zealand, the NZFC staff continue to ensure our producers, writers, directors are active participants in the global market. This work will benefit the film industry through market attachment and continued interest in the productions being developed and filmed here.
The NZFC are always seeking ways to ensure the next generation of great New Zealand filmmakers are kept in the forefront of the international film industry.
Last year, Vanity Fair magazine commented in an interview with Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami that “the New Zealand comedy world, though still quite new to the U.S., is about to undergo a major revolution” so it seems only fitting that this year’s Gender Scholarship be about Comedy, and that Jackie and Madeleine be the patrons. There are five $10,000 grants available for women who are creating comedic content. Jackie and Madeleine are keen to hear from those passionate about their creative work, can prove they have been working hard writing and/or creating comedic content and maybe haven’t had too much success getting financial support previously These grants are a part of the NZFC’s commitment to supporting the progression of female talent.
Applications will open next week and close on 18 May.
Mentorships offer a unique opportunity for career and project development and during June, July and August the NZFC Talent Department are taking these online. The programme will involve paid opportunities for mid-career filmmakers to connect with established filmmakers. Although project driven these mentorships will also focus on skills and craft development and be open to writers, directors, cinematographers and production designers.
Applications open next week when Guidelines will also be published. Applications close Monday 25 May.
FUNDING INITIATIVES OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS
The following funding initiatives remain open for applications:
Boost – for experienced producers or established screen businesses - deadline 4 May
Boost Up – for emerging producers or screen businesses – deadline 4 May
Documentary Development, Early Development and Whakawhanake Kiriata: Māori Film Development Fund – deadline 11 May
NZFC Production Financing – deadline 8 June
Tautoko Tāngata - Māori Talent Development Fund – applications accepted any time