Friday, July 2, 2010

Ant Timpson writes an open letter to New Zealand Film Commission

An Open Letter to the Hon Chris Finlayson, MP, Minister For Arts, Culture & Heritage and Graeme Mason CEO, New Zealand Film Commission

Dear Messrs Finlayson and Mason,

They say the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
Now I do understand that you both are in the midst of processing the eighty-seven page review of the New Zealand Film Commission by Sir Peter Jackson and David Court and that you may be pressed for time to peruse any additional material relating to the review.
So let me keep this brief and to get right to the point.
The indepth Review covered many areas for potential improvement to the New Zealand film landscape and featured many common sense applicable solutions to existing problems. However one theme that appeared to pop up throughout the review was the need to find and nurture the next generation of filmmaking talent. 
The review makes special mention of the annual V48HOURS event, cutting directly to the heart of the matter with;
“The NZFC should already have an idea about who the exciting young film makers are – who’s winning the film competitions, who submitted the most imaginative films to ‘48 Hours’”
Before that fully sinks in, the review follows up with this slamdunk;
“The NZFC could have a stronger role in nationwide film contests like the ‘48 hours’ competition.”
Which in a somewhat selfish analysis could mean that the event (self-described as a nationwide talent incubator) needs to be better supported. The event continues to grow each year yet unfortunately struggles to survive on the goodwill of sponsors (all the lovely logos below) and the competitors themselves. The event has grown exponentially for eight years since it started in 2003 with just 44 teams and one cinema. This year over ten thousand people participated and flocked into cinemas nationwide, while others watched the network television series and finally even more viewed films online.
At its core, the V48HOURS answers all the Parliamentary functions required of the NZFC which are, ‘to encourage and also to participate and assist in the making, promotion, distribution and exhibition of films’. – something the V48HOURS does very well in cinemas, TV, online and DVD to large NZ audiences every year.
At present it appears the NZFC is hamstrung by existing funding guidelines as the V48HOURS falls under the “Festivals & Awards Programme’, which means it’s seen on par with the Wellington Fringe Film Festival. No offense to the Fringe but the two organisations are on completely different playing fields in terms of what they achieve in the industry.
Those guidline restrictions make it appear that the NZFC are failing to support the infrastructure and success that the V48HOURS has built over 8 years.
More than $1,000,000 is spent on Industry Support alone by the NZFC each year. The V48HOURS which the Review has stated is the entity where future talent is being discovered, receives $0.00 from NZFC Industry Support funding.
The NZFC Statement of Intent says one of its primary goals looking forward was to “Build a Talent Pathway in 08/09″ and directed nearly $5,000,000 towards this ‘Pathway’. Surprisingly the event that inspired more New Zealanders to create film in that period than any other entity received only $5000 operational support. Which leads one to ask if the allocated monies (non production) that are already set aside for establishing the next generation of filmmakers are actually being utilised in the most forward-thinking way.
But then again, I would say that wouldn’t I?


Director V48HOURS.

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