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I would just like to offer my feedback on the NZFC review, from the perspective of an aspiring screenwriter.
I think in general there should be more initiatives and contests like the First Screenwriters Initiative (which is a great scheme). As far as I'm aware, that is really the only NZFC program for writers. I understand why there is no funding for first time writers, but it would be great if there was something an aspiring writer could work towards. In Hollywood people become script readers, have endless contests to enter, numerous coverage services and opportunities to gain agents. But there is little like this in NZ.
I think that perhaps having a high profile funding contest with a good stipend would be a great start. There are numerous awards & fellowships for NZ novelists, and if you want to make an artistic short you can apply for funding from Creative NZ. But if you want to write a solid commercial screenplay, with a universal story, there isn't much to aim for, aside from shopping it around to small number of NZ producers.
In other filmmaking fields in NZ, there are now options for camera operators, artists, costume designers, or sound technicians to at follow a possible career path. It's not quite so clear for screenwriters.
I am not asking for an easy ride – it will never, and should never be easy - but I like to think that if a script is great, then a little more investment could be made in fostering the talents of that script's writer.
I also think that NZFC's brief should not just be about telling New Zealand's stories. A good story is universal, and if the writer is a New Zealander, but the story is not, that shouldn't be an impediment to providing funding for that writer. A mixture of obviously NZ stories, and opportunities for writers to tell their own stories (NZ or not) is very important. Scoring 'New Zealand Content' by points seems bizarre to me. If the only NZ thing on a project in it' writer, or director, for example, why shouldn't NZFC money be used to support that person? The more we support these people, the more likely they are to stay in NZ and maintain a career.
I also think it would be great if first time writers could approach the NZFC first, and if the script is good enough, the NZFC could then help that writer find a producer, and not the other way around. The NZFC could employ lowly script readers (which would offer a job for aspiring writers) and could even create income by providing commercial script coverage services. This would be good for identifying talent as well.
Thanks for your time, Jon
As the Review may be aware I am the deputy chair of Film Auckland but this submission is made as a private film industry individual.
For the sake of clarity I have kept this submission short. I would be happy to elaborate for the review on any points.
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