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NZFC shares the word and the concerns

The Film Commission is now following up on its initial meetings between the new CEO, Dave Gibson, and industry practitioners in various centres around the country with meetings with both the Maori and Pacific film communities.

The first of these was a hui with Nga Aho Whakaari on Tuesday 25 March at Te Mahurehure Marae in Pt Chevalier, Auckland. A suitable location, given that for a number of years the marae’s wharenui and the surrounding grounds were the home-base shooting location and studio for Don Selwyn’s He Taonga Films.

Those first industry-wide meetings of Gibson’s tenure in late Feb/early March were not the ‘brief-speech-then-meet-and-greet’ affairs that Graeme Mason seemed to be fond of. Gibson delivered an address, going into some depth on his and/or the NZFC’s rationale as well as outcomes.

In contrast, at Tuesday morning’s hui with Nga Aho Whakaari, Gibson brought five of his head honchos with him, presenting the group as a team instead of as a boss and underlings.

As with that Auckland meeting, Gibson’s confident, relaxed and direct style of speaking seemed to be widely appreciated.

NZFC CEO Dave Gibson

NZFC CEO Dave Gibson

After promising not to repeat the 90-minute speech from February 28, Gibson outlined the new staffing structure in the Film Commission, built on three business units and three support groups.

The rest of the NZFC team present was Development and Production HoD Lisa Chatfield and executive Briar Grace-Smith; Talent Development and Relationships HoD Chris Payne; Short Film Manager, Whetu Fala; and head of marketing Jasmin McSweeney.

NAW had earlier signaled that they had consulted with their membership, and wished to discuss changes to the short film regime and the future of Te Paepae Ataata, the latter in the light of the recent creation within the commission of devolved development scheme He Ara (Maori and Pacific Pathways).

Per the NZFC webiste,

He Ara is aimed at supporting filmmakers in the creation of distinctive feature film drama or documentary projects, shaped through their chosen development framework. We are offering devolved development funding and modest overhead support via this initiative.

Picking up the shorts question, the commission team outlined the new philosophy focusing on short films as a pathway towards feature filmmaking, and the new flexibility in mechanisms and funding as a result. (Again, for more detail, see the NZFC’s coverage of its February meetings with industry.

We were encouraged to respond to the discussion paper that the NZFC has out about the new film short film regime, and reminded that the submission deadline is tomorrow, Friday 28 March.

The only mildly contentious moment occurred when a concern was raised from NAW’s consultation with members. Former commission staffer, Kath Akuhata-Brown, expressed the concern of some, if not necessarily herself, that there was a tendency within the industry including funding bodies, for some people to lump together Maori and Pacific sectors of the film community.

Perhaps the notion that this perception exists, accurate or not, suggests that the issue warrants further consideration – although the NZFC already has plans to meet separately with Pacific film-makers.

As at the February meeting, the NZFC emphasis was on flexibility of approach as opposed to box-ticking, originality of ideas and the quality of script writing, while acknowledging the competitive nature of and limited resources available for fund-seeking. Again the vibe was extremely welcoming.

From both the Maori and Pakeha filmmaking communities there seems to be widespread approval of the decision to appoint a CEO who is a Kiwi with a long history in actual filmmaking: one of us.

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