Today the New Zealand Government has announced the country is now at COVID-19 Alert level 3 with an upgrade to level 4 at midnight Wednesday, 25 March 2020. Level 4 is expected to continue for a minimum of 4 weeks. Level 4 means people are instructed to stay at home and only essential services/business will remain open.
These are unprecedented times and the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) would firstly like to thank and commend all the hard work the production community has done to ensure the health and safety of their cast and crew. We are extremely concerned by the serious nature of the pandemic and the immediate impact it is having on the livelihood of cast, crew and other businesses associated with the screen industry.
This Advisory is to provide updated and clear information to producers and the wider production sector about what the NZFC is putting in place to support productions until the pandemic situation is resolved. All our funding opportunities remain open and available, other than the International Travel Grants programme which has been suspended.
In the immediate term, we are dealing with two distinct types of production that are being affected now.
1. Productions that have commenced principal photography or are in post-production
In response to the New Zealand Government’s COVID-19 alert level directive and advisory, all productions (as non-essential businesses) are now in hiatus.
This is obviously distressing for everyone involved. We are committed to working alongside producers to understand the changing environment and how we can best take advantage of opportunities to commence production again when conditions are favourable to do so.
The NZFC is reviewing films and working with producers in post-production and assessing how we can best support delivery, if delayed, and other milestones related to this activity.
We will continue to process post-production deliverables, review contractual edits and provide feedback, and process invoices as applicable, however all test screenings are now paused.
2. Productions that have not yet formally closed finance or are yet to apply for funding but have a viable finance plan.
We have consulted with industry and stakeholders and are committed to doing more work with industry, so productions are poised and ready to start when conditions are favourable to do so.
Therefore, the NZFC:
(a) Continues to encourage and accept applications from producers for production financing if they have a viable finance plan; and
(b) Continues to work on film closing documentation to ensure production can commence as soon as production dates and other relevant production details, are confirmed.
We are systematically working through potential variations to our Terms of Trade that can support new approaches to production advances and cash-flowing for productions that have a letter of offer and are working through the closing process.
We are also currently reviewing how we can expand our project development, talent development and company support programmes.
All NZFC existing funding programmes remain open and available, except for the International Travel Grant programme.
In order to ensure that the NZFC can serve the industry effectively through these times we have already prepared and trialled NZFC staff to work remotely and will now continue to do so under Alert 3 and 4 as required. Staff remain totally committed to finding concrete ways to support the industry.
Please everyone, continue to look after yourselves and each other.
Annabelle Sheehan, CEO
Some useful links:
New Zealand Government’s official COVID-19 website
The Ministry of Health NZ
Screen Sector COVID-19 Action Group
New Zealand Government's COVID-19 Employer Support
NZFC's Advisory # 1