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BDS applicants in home straight

Nine months after the NZFC’s Business Development Scheme was announced at last year’s Big Screen Symposium, the funder’s board meets this week to consider recommendations on who should join Libertine Pictures in receiving support under the three-year scheme.

After a rather stop-start beginning to the application process, six companies were eventually short-listed. The NZFC has been using a three-person panel to do much of the legwork in determining recommendations about who should be supported and why.

British producer Jonathan Olsberg was a consultant to Screen Australia when it developed its Enterprise Scheme, on which the NZFC scheme was partly modelled. Ex-pat Kiwi producer Helen Bowden was a recipient of the Australian Enterprise Scheme at Matchbox. Former head of NHNZ, Michael Stedman, has considerable experience of turning a state-supported organisation into something that thrives and excels in the commercial world.

The aftermath of this week’s board meeting might well not be straightforward offers, although those falling at the final fence will know pretty quickly.

It’s likely that there’ll be a little more negotiation with some prospective recipients. The NZFC will probably want to see a mix of applicants supported. screeNZ understands the NZFC has been looking at some proposals – mostly those from existing companies – partly with an eye to how soon projects from their slates can head into production.

The scheme’s first recipient, Libertine Pictures, was a new entity – albeit one built with well-established parts. However, as a new entity, it had no production-ready projects.

Libertine last week announced a feature heading into development, Urban Mermaids, and the intention that it shoots in 2015. While that represents a much shorter trip through development and into production than has been common for many NZFC-supported features, it does mean the project is likely to complete very close to the end of the BDS’ three-year term.

Auckland's Wet Hot Beauties

Auckland’s Wet Hot Beauties inspired Urban Mermaids
(c) Judy Dale

That’s not a problem, but a large part of the rationale behind the scheme was to increase the amount of work for local industry. It would make sense for the BDS to put some of its support behind a company or companies who’ll deliver work and productions in a shorter time frame.

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