FILMAKERS FINANCE

JOURNAL

As always, the conference gathers industry professionals that are serious about their craft and their network. With such an eager audience, Richard and I got to the heart of it; what was a grant, is now a rebate, and what it really means to producers, especially New Zealand producers.

Reflecting on the past 12 months, we agreed that it has been incredibly tough for producers to close financing. Budgets that were prepared 12 to 18 months in advance were seriously impacted by inflation, the inflationary pressures of crew costs when competing against international productions, reduced or capped government funding and substantially higher financing costs.

We discussed one of the most beneficial outcomes of the recent NZSPR review… the ability to submit an interim application for an interim NZSPR payment during production. New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) introduced this provision during COVID-19 response, and it worked well. The detail can be found in in Clause 29 of the NZSPR Criteria for New Zealand Productions (“Criteria”). To summarise, an applicant can submit an interim application for NZSPR on the QNZPE incurred and paid provided the QNZPE claimed is not less than 50% of the relevant expenditure threshold for the project’s format. The NZFC must be satisfied that the project will be completed (as defined in the Criteria). If the project is an Official Co-production, NZFC need to be satisfied the project will achieve final co-production certification.

To maximise the benefit requires an analysis of a particular project as variables include production schedule, production cashflow and related costs. This is where Hinterland can assist – working with producers to maximise the NZSPR, assist planning for the interim application and reducing financing costs so that more of the budget is on screen. I’m finding a well-planned and executed interim application is providing interest savings of around 40% compared to what producers were paying pre-COVID. Incredible!

The other substantial benefit for producers is the provision to allow all television and other non-feature film productions to access other New Zealand Government production funding (Clause 9.7 of the Criteria). This is game changing for producers who historically have had to raise 60% of finance from other sources. Raising this level of additional funding and retaining intellectual property is challenging, particularly when funding from the international market becomes part of the finance plan. We expect the ability to combine the NZSPR with NZ On Air or Te Māngai Pāho to result in a growth of New Zealand drama and factual projects, which will ultimately contribute to screen business sustainability.

Richard and I also chatted more seriously… following on from the review, especially with the change of Government, we advised it is imperative that producers behave responsibility when seeking to access the NZSPR. We expect the NZSPR and broader government financial support for the sector to come under increasing scrutiny. The longevity of the NZSPR is essential for our industry to continue and thrive.

Closing the panel discussion, Richard and I acknowledged the pertinent work undertaken by NZFC to champion these two invaluable changes to the NZSPR, praising their commitment to bettering the industry.

25th SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year Award

The day wrapped up with the much-anticipated awards ceremony. It was Hinterland’s first year to sponsor the 25th SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year award.

For me, the essence of what this award champions, speaks straight to the heart of what Hinterland represents and does. “Filmmaker” is not a format, it’s a dedicated, often lifelong journey that triumphs with the right mix of support, nurturing and guidance. The ultimate outcome is to see emerging talent in our country have every opportunity to positively contribute towards a vibrant screen sector.

Congratulations to Harry Wynn for winning this coveted award – we’re excited to see what you bring to the industry with your next project.

HARRY WYNN — Winner of the 25th SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year Award

Useful Links:
You can listen to this discussion panel on YouTube HERE or Spotify HERE
NZSPR Criteria for New Zealand Productions
SPADA Conference

Images during the 2023 SPADA Conference by Tareq Branney of Howie