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Vista & NZFC team on training

The Vista Foundation and the NZFC will partner on the Film Marketing Programme, a new training initiative to upskill NZ filmmakers to help them learn the business side of film marketing.

Dave Gibson, John Barnett, Murray Holdaway and event MC Rhys Darby

Dave Gibson, John Barnett, Murray Holdaway and event MC Rhys Darby

The Film Marketing Programme, announced as part of the launch of the Vista Foundation at Sky City in Auckland yesterday, will put four teams annually through a workshop programme and reward one or more with up to $75,000 to assist with marketing costs.

Launching the initiative, Vista Group Chief Executive Murray Holdaway said the Foundation was dedicated to growing and developing filmmakers, and that the Group intended to continue support in future years rather than see this as a one-off opportunity.

The initiative was introduced by NZFC Chair Patsy Reddy and expanded upon by the NZFC’s Dave Gibson and SPP’s John Barnett following the presentation.

In brief, the initiative will accept four teams of writer, director and producer with a feature project in advanced development. The teams will go through three two-day workshops over a three-month period.

The first workshop will address financing, licensing and distribution; the second audience, marketing, release and exhibition strategies; and the third will see the teams work directly on their own projects, culminating in the teams presenting to a Selection Committee. Once the Selection Committee has selected, the lucky winning team will receive a grant of up to $75,000 towards the marketing and distribution of their film.

SPP Chair John Barnett, producer of some very solid box office performers over the years, including Sione’s Wedding and Whale Rider, has been instrumental in putting together the workshop programme. He and other industry professionals will deliver the workshops, with appropriate support from Vista.

Having begun by creating cinema management software, Vista has diversified into data with its acquisition of Movio. Such data is used by US studios to help inform decisions around not only what to make but when, where and how to release to give films their best shot at earning as much as possible.

Gibson shared that the NZFC’s Selina Joe has been working with Movio data for a while and making “interesting discoveries”. Gibson also noted that the NZFC was pushing for test screenings and had conducted its first exit survey, on The Dead Lands.

“We’re trying to make this information available,” said Gibson, adding he expected Barnett to be drawing on that data for workshops during the Film Marketing Programme.

The $75,000 grant awarded will be team and production-specific, available to be drawn upon for up to two years. After that time – if the project has not gone forward into production – Vista will be able to either reallocate funds or return them to the Foundation’s pot.

Projects selected for the initiative must therefore have “a high probability of securing production financing within the next twelve months”, although neither completion of the workshop programme nor being selected as the winner of the $75,000 will guarantee NZFC production support for the film.

There are still a few kinks to iron out, such as inserting clauses into the small print of agreements to ensure that whatever the Foundation gives a production increases marketing spend and can’t be removed from a distributor’s budget.

The NZFC expects to have teams selected and the initiative kicking off by July so, by the end of the year, the first winning team should be known.

The SCREENZ article on the Vista Foundation launch is here.

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