Kiwi screen agencies join forces

The New Zealand Film Commission and  Film New Zealand are merging  on August 1.

As a result, the Film New Zealand board is resigning and its CEO Gisella Carr will step down.

In other news,  following a review the NZFC announced changes to the criteria for local and international productions accessing the New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) introduced a year ago.  

NZFC chair Patsy Reddy said, "Our two agencies have worked very closely together for many years and particularly to ensure the success of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant since it was introduced. This announcement builds on and formalises that approach by creating a one-stop shop for filmmakers and screen companies in New Zealand and overseas.

"We see this as combining  the expertise, relationships, resources and strengths of both agencies to support industry efforts to attract screen productions and promote New Zealand as a world-class film location.

As part of the integration, Film New Zealand’s staff will move to the NZFC premises. Philippa Mossman, Film NZ's director of business development and enquiries, will join NZFC head of incentives Catherine Bates and head of international relations Chris Payne in driving the offshore attraction efforts.

NZFC CEO Dave Gibson tells IF, "Over time there will be some savings which we will redirect to frontline marketing, probably in Los Angeles." 

Reddy added, "For over two decades, Film NZ has enjoyed significant success and developed an excellent reputation internationally. I would like to thank Gisella Carr and the Film NZ board for their outstanding contribution to bringing economically-valuable international screen production to New Zealand and for promoting New Zealand as a world-class screen production destination. NZFC will work to ensure that this important service continues to be provided.”

Film New Zealand chair John McCay said, "The announcement formalises the ongoing collaborative work between the two agencies and will deliver positive results for New Zealand’s screen industry and our international clients."

Among the changes to the NZSPG criteria, the qualifying production expenditure threshold for the Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) Grant, a subset of the NZSPG, will be lowered from $NZ1 million to $500,000 from  August 1 to attract more international post production and to support the smaller visual effects companies.

The amendments to the NZSPG criteria for local productions include:

– An exception to allow children’s drama productions to access both the NZSPG and funding from other screen agencies will come into effect on  August 1.

– This change recognises the particular opportunities the genre provides to develop skills in the industry, and for New Zealand children to see themselves on screen.

-An increase in the qualifying points threshold for Significant New Zealand Content for television and other non-feature film productions, in order to align with the threshold for feature films.

– A new requirement for television and non-feature film productions to meet a 10 per cent market attachment threshold.

– A limit on the amount of funding available for stock or archive footage to ensure grant funding is provided only to productions which further the grant’s cultural and industry development objectives.

Among the international productions that qualified for the NZSPG this year are Disney's Pete's Dragon, a reimagining of the 1977 Disney classic starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley and Wes Bentley;  the Starz original series Ash vs Evil Dead, which features Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago; and The Shannara Chronicles, a 10-part MTV series adapted from Terry Brooks' post-Apocalyptic/fantasy series.

Domestic production is booming. In the past 12 months the NZFC invested in 18 features and feature docs.