One Year is upon us

December 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

With the NZAG formally becoming a year old on the 15th of December here is a bit of a look at what has transpired during 2011 and some basic plans for the future of the Guild:
2011 for the NZAG has been about getting things started, consolidating, building and finding our feet. It has been a largely successful year but with a few frustrations and whilst some of those frustrations are unsurprising there is a bit of work to be done.

On an infrastructure level the Guild has its Committee in place, an office with basic equipment, Greg Ellis onboard as Secretary for 20 hours a week and a website up and running. With an office in Wellington we are finding some pre-conceptions that NZAG is the “Wellington Actors’ Guild” which need to be overcome. In reality this is not the case and whilst there are still more Wellingtonians than any others in the guild there is an ever-increasing number of Auckland actors and now people in Christchurch, Taranaki and Palmerston North. We have made 2 visits to Auckland this year and will need to keep this momentum going into 2012.

2011 saw the NZAG make submissions several times on the DOL’s immigration policy for visiting performers. Whilst we understand the benefits for producers in being able to use visiting performers with much greater ease, streamlining many aspects of production and giving greater surety to finances, the NZAG remains vigilant that Kiwi professionals don’t get overlooked in this process. We have recently held a meeting with the DOL to fully understand the new process, how it will be monitored and what will be the review process in 18 months time. This is as a result of some lobbying which we hope to expand on post-election. There will also be a further meeting with the DOL in the new year to concentrate on our perspective on the accreditation process for production companies. 

In regards to the new immigration policies for visiting performers it is reasonably clear that there is little to be done, short-term, in altering these regulations. Therefore its is our proposal that we work within the structure to find the best ways to maximize the exposure of kiwi actors to productions from overseas and convince producers that New Zealand is not just a place filled with stunning locations and ingenuity behind the camera but loaded with great performers too. At the moment we are trying to get a meeting with FilmNZ to discuss the feasibility of such a project. We hope to also canvas producers, casting agents, agents and performers before moving ahead to try to secure funding for this project. 
In 2011 we have run a meeting in Auckland, a Fringe Festival forum in Wellington and a successful Branding workshop for actors with Peter Feeney in Wellington. This workshop gained us new members and was a success for the participants. Peter and Miranda Harcourt appeared on Radio NZ discussing branding for actors as a result of the workshop and there is demand for the workshop to be replicated in Auckland. Hopefully we will be in a position to do this in February. We have other workshops planned, including a casting directors forum, and there are plenty of suggestions from the membership. We have been told by Creative NZ that if we can show that our particular workshops are being offered by no-one else in the country then we stand a much better chance of getting these funded. 

Our sponsorship of an acting award at the 48Hours Film contest was also a great way to lift our profile. And, as the final was in Auckland, it was great positive exposure for the NZAG brand. We are also getting exposure for the NZAG from our ads in OnFilm magazine. We hope to have an article featured in the December issue and possibly further ongoing pieces.

The NZAG is also working along with a couple of pieces of research. We are looking into a comparison of actors’ contracts from various overseas markets to actually make an informed decision about things that NZ actors could benefit from and pitfalls to avoid. The area of online advertising has also received some research. We are particularly interested in what happens to the actors’ work when their contract for online performance expires. One of the early findings is that a schedule should be supplied to actors saying where and for how long their work will be displayed there. The next stage here is to actually talk to some advertising companies and get their feedback on this. Another thing to come out of this research is that actors are going to need to think about what their own online postings expose them to – anything from copyright issues to damaging their own character and appeal. This particular area needs to be further explored and can be a possible workshop in the future.

We have had some early success getting partners to provide benefits to our members, we are able to drive these memberships through our membership cards which are now with all our members. Communication with members continues to be primarily through our email newsletter and Facebook page. 

Overall 2011 has been a positive year for the NZAG. 2012 promises some challenges with continuing uncertainty over any industry standard contracts and conditions. We also have a new immigration environment to work in and the idea with this, as with any other challenges that come our way, is to roll up our sleeves and consult with industry partners before making the best of the given situation whilst working to benefit our members in the long term.

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