1 Aug 2013

Filmmakers lament changes to funding

7:19 am on 1 August 2013

Local filmmakers say Government changes to funding for the sector will favour overseas production companies.

Changes to film and television production tax rebates and grants are being made following a review.

The threshold for a 15% tax rebate on television production falls from $15 million to $4 million.

However feature film makers will now need to find at least 10% of their funding through private means to qualify for the Screen Production Incentive Fund whereas before there was no minimum.

The chairman of South Pacific Pictures, John Barnett, says a significant number of popular New Zealand films would never have been made under the new conditions.

Screenwriter, producer and filmmaker Mike Riddell, who made the award-winning film The Insatiable Moon on a shoestring budget says the 10% threshold is bad news. "Without government encouragement there would be no film industry in New Zealand. We would be back to the days of everybody scrambling around trying to do things on the smell of an oily rag ... you can't sustain an industry on that."

The Film Commission administers the grants and chief executive Graeme Mason says the funding change might be an issue for some films, but most recent productions would have qualified. He says filmmakers can still access Film Commission funding, which is separate to the incentive scheme.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says a private sector contribution of 10% is fair, especially from the taxpayer's perspective.