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NZ Media Fund stirs the pot

There’s a temptation to stare at the tea leaves and try to discern what the funding decisions under first outing for the new NZ Media Fund regime might mean, but the general takeaway is that the decision-making means what it always has. Competition for support remains fierce, and good projects get turned down.

To ensure that competition continues, although perversely that makes NZ On Air’s just as difficult going forward, 12 (unnamed) projects were offered development support from the July round.

Whatever the name on the funding pot, the principles underpinning the decisions remain the same: to support quality content, for diverse audiences that is discoverable. “Discoverable” is a bit more prominent now there aren’t broadcast networks with publicity departments behind every production funded.

NZ creators of online content are well past the stage where they need to prove they can make good content for online. The focus now is as much on getting larger audiences to find and enjoy that quality content, so there’s an expectation now of partnering with established platforms to improve discoverability,

The effect is becoming similar to the model that’s existed for years with TV, of the broadcaster as gatekeeper. While an online version of the model isn’t yet established, platform owners (some of them broadcasters as well) will – at some point – have to accept that with power comes responsibility.

DEGNZ’s ED Tui Ruwhiu has recently been drawing attention in editorial pieces here and here to the low levels of licence fees platforms are offering NZ creators to host their shows.

In this NZ On Air round, the decisions are safe – as one might expect – supporting material and creators already proven.

Peter Haynes & Hweiling Ow’s AFK gets a second season, AFK: This World And The Next. The first season, which won the Best Web Series gong at last year’s NZ Web Fest, was self-funded. Haynes and Ow are soon to release Ao-terror-oa, supported under the NZ On Air-Google-YouTube fund Skip Ahead, a second round of which is confirmed and will be one of a small number of funds that aren’t being folded into the Media Fund. The Watercooler, the first season of which is on the Herald’s Watch.Me platform, also gets support for a second season.



A larger number of factual projects are supported in the online space, including two more for Herald platforms: The Road To Rhythm – 15 Years Of Rhythm And Vines and Sharing The Love.

Great Southern will create podcast New Zealand Wars for RNZ, with Tikilounge Productions delivering Marks of Mana, a one-off doco about Pacific Ta Tatau, for he Coconet.tv. Tikilounge is also supported for a third season of Game Of Bros for Māori Television.

It’s too early to say whether NZ On Air will move towards a more formalised expectation of the level of support platforms kick in for web content, but it’s an issue that will be more ongoing now that web series and other online content are on the agenda at every NZ On Air funding round.

SPP’s currently-screening Westside (pictured, top) will return for a fourth season, giving The Spinoff a whole year to fume about the agency’s wilful continuing of support for people over the age of 30 whose shows have won awards internationally – and may even win locally now the NZ TV Awards are returning.

Also returning, and also courtesy of NZ On Air, will be Jono And Ben and 7 Days.

Supported by the NZFC at its June meeting, Libertine’s Daffodils bloom again, picking up NZ On Air support as well. The musical feature will be directed by David Stubbs, who’s shifting a considerable distance from previous feature Belief: the Possession of Janet Moses.

The lion’s share of the factual projects funded are for TV, with a good number of usual suspects supported: shows from Diva Productions, Gibson Group, Greenstone, Notable Pictures and Screentime are all in the mix.



The full lists of shows supported are on NZ On Air’s site here (drama & comedy) and here (factual).

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