Archive for June, 2009


Did you know that total budget does not equal your TPE, and that neither equal your QNZPE, which is always smaller than the others? QNZPE, btw, is not a mutation of swine flu, but Qualifying NZ Production Expenditure, while TPE is Total Production Expenditure. Such are the sacred mysteries of SPIF (a special password standing for Screen Production Incentive Fund). It’s as impenetrable as an accountant’s rectum, but much more rewarding to a filmmaker.

Basically it’s the government fund which allows a 40% rebate on qualifying film expenditure, albeit after the film has reached completion. And before anyone gets too excited, the threshold of qualifying expenditure for a feature is NZ$4m, which usually means you need to be operating a $5m budget before you get near it.
If that’s not enough to put the faint-hearted off, I’ve just about completed our application, which amounts to 180 pages of supporting documentation. Just as well I haven’t got a proper job! Nevertheless, to get the rebate would be, well, spiffing.

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New Moon

In this part of the world it’s Matariki, which is the traditional Maori New Year. It refers to the appearance of the new moon following the rising of the constellation Pleiades. It has been translated as both Mata Riki (tiny eyes) and Mata Ariki (eyes of God). Either sounds just fine to me. It marks the turning of the year, and for us in the southern hemisphere is the time when the dying of the day and the natural world begins to shift toward regeneration.

A great friend of mine, Tom Ffowcs Williams was an advocate of celebrating Fallow Day, for exactly the same reasons. It’s not a bad thing to pick up the rhythm of the seasons and mark them.
All of us involved with The Insatiable Moon look forward to the turning of the wheel, in many ways. We’re in that season of waiting, of preparing, before the real work comes. It’s something of a time of hopeful anticipation.
Meanwhile, the moon waxes…

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July 9 is the date by which our major funding application needs to be in to the NZ Film Commission. But before that, and hopefully by the end of this week, I need to deliver a draft application for provisional approval as an official co-production with the UK. Not to mention the application for provisional approval for the Screen Production Incentive Fund.

In the meantime, a flurry of activity is under way. Yesterday was budget delivery day, and it arrived in good shape. Our Welsh line producer has 30 years of experience and did a great job on it. Currently I’m extracting UK and NZ spends, which need to be separately itemised for the applications.

For someone who is primarily a writer, delving into the bowels of spreadsheets doesn’t exactly turn me on. But it’s all part of the process of making things happen. I think anyone involved in the film industry should learn as much about the entire industry as possible, and there’s no way of learning quite like having to perform new tasks. When I first produced a short film, I had no idea whatsoever. By the end of it, I’d learned a few things and had a load of fun at the same time.

Not too much fun at the moment, but the finishing line looms. Unfortunately it will be followed by another, and another, and another… That’s the biz we’re involved in.

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Thanks so much for people donating to the movie through ‘Give A Little’. Just to say that if you would like your name recorded to go in the credits, just drop me an email here and consider it done! It’s the little things in life that make a difference…

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Very funny cartoon from Tom Scott this morning, reflecting on the appointment of one Peter Jackson to head up the government review of the NZ Film Commission. It’s a bit pointed given that Kathleen Drumm has just resigned to join the former head of NZFC Ruth Harley in the Australian film industry.

The new head of NZFC, Graeme Mason, looks like wielding a new broom – and he has the smarts and experience to do so. It will be very interesting to see how things shape up over coming years. At least the review has picked someone with actual filmmaking experience and passion to head it.
I wonder if Peter Jackson remembers his roots – having his projects rejected by NZFC and hounding them until they finally recognised he was worthy of support. I hope so. I wish him and the entire Film Commission well as they undergo this exercise, and trust that it will be of benefit to the entire industry.

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Carbon Carnage

I’m personally responsible for the destruction of several small rainforests, and extending the carnage on a daily basis. Paper is churning through the printer like I was publishing a daily. And that’s about it in terms of mixed metaphors for today.

I’m concurrently doing applications for production funding, provisional SPIF approval, and official coproduction status. I hope someone gets to read at least some of the bumf which is being generated. Is it complicated? You bet it is. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
And as of tomorrow, just 3 weeks until deadline. If I was a tree, I’d be trembling…

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There’s a story which I first heard a few decades back which caught my attention. It involved a little boy who grew up with a passion for firefighting. He loved fire engines and firefighters and everything to do with them. He read books about fires. There was never any doubt about what he was going to do when he left school.

He was admitted to firefighters’ school and soon rose to become top of the class. In fact he was so good and passionate about it that when he graduated his bosses decided to send him on a special course to do further training. From there he was invited to do his PhD on new techniques for fighting fires. After that he was offered a job at the school, lecturing other people learning how to fight fires. Eventually he retired after a long and successful career with the fire department.
But one thing he never did. He never got to fight fires.
I keep a model fire engine in my office to remind me of the story. After a few days of filling in forms and writing documents, it raises the question for me once again of how many people in this business still have the passion for making films, and actually get to do it? As opposed to talking about films, meeting about films, producing forms about films etc. Hard to relate what I’m doing at the moment to what it’s all about…

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