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Joint doco fund can’t give money away

The NZFC and NZ On Air have offered production support to one feature documentary from the first round of applications to the new Joint Documentary Fund. The JDF was announced in March, with submissions closing in late July.

The $2.5 million fund was intended to support around five documentaries. >

The scheme was open to filmmakers “with an important documentary credit (either television or theatrical)”, with the lower value Te Whai Ao scheme targeting less experienced filmmakers.

The JDF received six applications, perhaps a smaller number than anticipated. The requirement for a broadcaster commitment (including a licence fee) was widely alleged to be a major factor in keeping the JDF`s application numbers small. Given networks` diminishing interest in one-off docos, that might seem a reasonable observation.

However, one person with knowledge of the applications said that the main reason only one project of six was confirmed for production was that the some submissions struggled to successfully address the demands for large and small screen appeal.

Yesterday`s announcement confirmed $470,000 of support for Australia/New Zealand co-production Waves of Anzac Cove produced by Owen Hughes (Frame Up Films) and Alan Erson (Essential Films) for Maori TV. To be directed by Tony Krawitz (Dead Europe, The Tall Man), the script is by Hughes with Sam Neill, who`ll also present.

Development funding has been committed to an untitled project to be produced by Thomas Robins and David Stubbs of KHF Media (Reservoir Hill, Girl vs. Boy) and directed by Stubbs for TV One.

Development wasn`t initially intended to be part of the JDF but, given the nature of the KHF Media project, the agencies have decided to front some cash for specific purposes as they were “keen to help this project develop”.

The JDF announcement observed, with no apparent sense of irony, “the fund is not exhausted”. The NZFC and NZOA have yet to confirm a date for a second call for applications – hopefully before the end of the year.

Whether or not there`ll be any changes to the criteria is as yet unclear. The NZFC said in a statement, “it’s possible we could refine them slightly”. NZ On Air`s Glenn Usmar echoed that sentiment.

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