Film NZ head McCann resigns

Oversaw group in post-"Rings" period of development

SYDNEY -- Judith McCann, the CEO of Film New Zealand, the country’s national film office, announced Thursday she has resigned after five years in the post.

McCann oversaw the organization through its formative years, and at a time when the sector needed to capitalize on the success of Peter Jackson’s “Lord Of The Rings” trilogy.

In a statement, McCann said it was “time to hand over the reins for Film NZ’s next evolution."

“New Zealand has retained its position internationally in the face of increasing competition in production location incentives being offered throughout the USA and globally. From a relatively small population base, New Zealand’s screen production industry has carved out a global position that is envied by our competitors. Film NZ would not be where it is today without the industry and its support,” she said. 

McCann said the industry and FilmNZ’s contribution to the New Zealand economy has been recognized in recent times with a federal government funding increase to NZ$833,000 ($559,000).

Production revenue in NZ increased in 2008 by 15% to NZ$945 million $633 million), NZ$481 million ($322 million) of which was from US sources, while post, digital and visual effects work increased 27% to $321 million.

In the last few years, big-budget features including James Cameron’s much-anticipated 3D feature, “Avatar,” “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” “Bridge to Terabithia” and “Wolverine” were all shot in New Zealand. At the same time the government raised production location incentives to meet increased competition from Australia and the US.

Former Film NZ trustee Sue Thompson has been appointed acting CEO, with a search for a permanent replacement for McCann under way.