The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ (DEGNZ) welcomes the opportunity to collectively bargain on behalf of its membership in the event the new Government repeal the controversial ‘Hobbit Law’, an amendment rushed through Parliament that classified all film workers as ‘independent contractors’, unable to bargain collectively and receive other benefits associated with being an employee.
“In our recent Annual Survey of the membership conducted independently by Trace Research, an overwhelming 84 per cent of directors and editors wanted the Guild to collectively bargain on their behalves,” said Executive Director of DEGNZ Tui Ruwhiu.
“In the same survey, 32.5% of directors saw a decrease in their income in the last year compared to the year before, and 32.5% of directors earn less than $1,000 per week. This is obviously a concern for us.”
“It’s not unusual for directors to be one of the more poorly paid roles on set, particularly in feature and short film and non-drama TV,” Ruwhiu added. “Unlike technicians, directors do not receive overtime payments, their pay rates can be poor, and their hours generally longer that most others in the execution of their work.”
“Director rates have been trending downward in many sectors of the industry over the last 10 to 20 years and we need to do something about it.”
New Zealand directors get very few opportunities to work on international productions coming to New Zealand, depending almost exclusively on domestic New Zealand production to make a living.
With the number of local feature films produced each year in New Zealand numbering between five and fifteen, only five to fifteen New Zealand directors get a job on those productions, and in many cases the director is required to reduce or defer their fee to get the production made.
The majority of the Guild’s directors are contracted to productions for New Zealand television, documentary, advertising and in the corporate arena where they make videos, promos and branded content.
“The status of directors within the industry and with the wider public is generally high. Unfortunately, the reality when it comes to terms and conditions and particularly income for many of our director members is poor,” Ruwhiu concluded.
“Collective bargaining would provide a positive means for the Guild to improve the lot of directors in New Zealand, which is not possible under the current individual contracting regime.”