NZFC provides more stepping stones for new talent

The New Zealand Film Commission has launched several measures to help emerging writers, directors and producers to make features.

One initiative is Premiere Pathways, a new fund which will provide up to $NZ500,000 to help get features into production. Applicants can submit a short film, concept reel, scenes, a teaser trailer and a second-draft script.

Another fund will help talented teams coming out of the 48HOURS competition to get features into production.

NZFC CEO Dave Gibson announced the measures at the Big Screen Symposium in Auckland last Sunday.

“I am not convinced that the pathways have been clear or open to new talent,” he said. “I am not convinced that we have been good at identifying that talent. And I am not convinced that we have been able to help people move forward quickly and well.”

Gibson said Sir Peter Jackson had given him a chart that showed in the first 17 years of the Film Commission approximately four times as many directors went on to have international careers than in the last 17 years.

Screen Advisory Board members Jackson and Fran Walsh have identified early talent and connections as their chief interest. James Cameron and Jon Landau are keen to help with US connections and a NZFC push into Los Angeles next year. Jane Campion is interested in gender equality.

Gibson announced three companies, which are all developing features, will receive funding under the Business Development Scheme: Matthew Metcalfe's GFC Fighter Town; Gibson Group in association with Catherine Fitzgerald's Blueskin and Steve Barr; and Field Theory, a new company led by Phillippa Campbell, Fiona Copland and Tim Sanders.

Filmmaking teams with lower budget screenplays in an advanced stage of development looking to move towards production are being invited to apply for funding.

Gibson said, “We hope to see 3-to-5 lower budget films produced each year and assist them into worldwide and New Zealand distribution through market partnerships.”

Unlike the Screen Australia financing model, the NZFC does not require projects to have a NZ distributor attached but it expects to see a well-developed connection plan for Kiwi audiences, and, for budgets of more than $NZ500,000, a plan for overseas audiences.

The Commission aims to support the production of 8-12 features a year. “Diversity is a key goal. By budget, genre and audience appeal,” Gibson said.