I would like to thank the Minister for the opportunity to comment on the review of the NZFC.
I believe that The Film Commission needs to operate a much more open and transparent policy. Criteria for funding needs to be consistent, giving each and every project an equal opportunity and allowing producers and writers to know exactly what is required of them. Too often contradicting messages are received from the commission depending on who you are talking to, creating confusion and inconsistencies. Too much is left open to interpretation creating a lack of trust and discontent within the industry.
I believe that The Film Commission needs to have an accountability policy attached to funding decisions that would match any commercial organisation. A number of projects that receive development funding never see the light of day, and the decisions to fund these projects should be investigated, with some accountability applied for the loss of these valuable funds. Other projects receive development funding and find that they are not entitled to production funding. And many projects are ‘supported’ by the commission but don’t receive any funding at all. An accountability policy will ensure that money is well spent and projects are seen through to completion in order to maximise potential commercial return.
Funding decisions would be better made by a panel of industry professionals than individuals within the film commission. This panel would ideally consist of a minimum of 5 suitably qualified practitioners from sectors within the film industry, with an appropriate rotation system. This would allow personal opinions and preferences to be muted out of the selection process allowing for a more inclusive and professional decision making process.
Each project should be assessed as is, on its own merit, and must consider the potential commercial success of the film. It is ridiculous that projects are turned down because they are considered ‘too commercial’.
The Film Commission is seen as an exclusively Wellington based club. It should strive to be more embracing of other centres with representatives based and/or actively working around the country more – working and interacting more with the writers and ideas developers creating an environment that encourages creative development.
I believe that writers, as a matter of course, should always be included in the communication and development meetings between the Film Commission and producers. This will avoid situations where writers are played as pawns by producers in their negotiations on other projects. It will ensure the writers are part of the development process and reduce the perceived alienation of the Film Commission.
Writers need to be supported. It is unrealistic of the commission to request rewrites of a project they are ‘supportive of’ without financial compensation. No one can produce a fully professional script in four weeks whilst holding down a full-time job, running the home, managing families etc. If the commission wants top quality scripts then the writers must be given the resources to do this.
The Commission must support the writers more – I would suggest a new facility that helps and supports writers, working with the NZ Writers Guild more and aligning writers with reputable and suitable producers.
The growth in industry training offered by the commission is great to see. This is valuable to our industry, and I would like to ensure that it continues to grow and that selection is done in a fair, inclusive and transparent way.
If you would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact.
Thank you again for the opportunity to make this submission.