New Zealand Merges Film Agencies

2001: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
Sony Pictures Classics/Courtesy of Everett Collection

The impact of the exploding cable universe and reality TV began to take its toll on the Academy Awards. For the first time, the telecast came in No. 2, losing to CBS' "Survivor." Also, less mainstream films were in play for best picture, including "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Locations marketing agency Film NZ will become part of the New Zealand Film Commission as international production balloons.

Kiwi locations marketing agency Film NZ will be absorbed by the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) following a government review into the operation of incentive program, the New Zealand Screen Production Grant, which the agencies have jointly promoted since April last year.

The merger of the agencies will take place from August 1, with Film NZ staff moving to the NZFC premises as part of the NZFC’s expanded international and marketing teams.

Film NZ CEO Gisella Carr will leave the organization following the merger.

“Our two agencies have worked very closely together for many years and particularly to ensure the success of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant since it was introduced last year,” said Dame Patsy Reddy, New Zealand Film Commission's chair.

She added: “This announcement builds on and formalizes that approach, by creating a one-stop shop for film makers and screen companies in New Zealand and overseas.”

NZ Arts Minister Steven Joyce said that it had been a record year for international production shooting in New Zealand following the establishment of the NZSPG. The grant boosted incentives, including allowing major productions to claim back up to 25 percent of their budget as rebates. Films made in the Kiwi territory have included Walt Disney Pictures’ Pete’s Dragon, Dreamworks’ Light Between Oceans, The Weinstein Company’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II and Legendary Pictures' Krampus.

Indeed the production grant has also been successful in securing a number of key TV series, including Ash vs. The Evil Dead, MTV’s Shannara and Saban’s Power Rangers, that have kept the sector busy after production on Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy finished.

At the same time, the review of the NZSPG has recommended amendments to its operation, including halving the qualifying threshold for the post-digital and visual-effects grant for international productions from $660,000 to $330,000 (NZ$1 million to NZ$500,000). That’s designed to encourage more international postproduction and smaller visual effects companies, Joyce said.