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New Zealand Film Commission

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New Zealand Film Commission
Company typeIncentive
Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga (Māori)
Autonomous Crown entity overview
Minister responsible

The New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC; Māori: Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga) is a New Zealand government agency formed to assist with creating and promoting New Zealand films. It was established under the New Zealand Film Commission Act 1978 (as amended in 1981, 1985, 1988, 1994 and 1999).

Functions and responsibilities[edit]

The New Zealand Film Commission is a Crown entity working to grow the New Zealand film industry. Its statutory responsibility is to encourage, participate and assist in the making, promotion, distribution and exhibition of films made in New Zealand.

Through the financing and administration of incentive schemes it has been involved in more than 300 feature films including Boy, Goodbye Pork Pie, Heavenly Creatures, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Avatar, Whale Rider and Mr. Pip.

It is also involved in some television series.

Film financing and marketing[edit]

The NZFC assists New Zealand filmmakers by providing grants, loans and equity financing in the development and production of feature films and short films. It administers the Government's Large Budget Screen Production Grant (LBSPG) and Screen Production Incentive Fund (SPIF) and certifies New Zealand films for tax purposes and co-productions. It also actively markets New Zealand films and filmmakers, and organises high-profile New Zealand participation at major international film festivals and markets. It helps with training and career development within the industry by partnering with other industry organisations.

For example, in 2010 the NZFC unveiled a new program for funding films by filmmakers at the beginning of their careers who have creative ideas for their first feature film specifically designed for low-budget films.[1][2] ("Directors who have previously received feature film finance from the NZFC" are ineligible.")[3] Called Escalator, the scheme encourages teams, preferably including "their director, writer, producer and possibly a key crew member" to "submit three different proposals for a low budget ([NZ]$250,000) feature film."[1] From those applications, 12 teams are selected to participate in a multi-day "bootcamp" after which they are expected to "prepare a script, production budget, schedule and statement of approach for one of their ideas."[1] Peter Jackson praised the proposal for its "speed or process," reminding his readers that "much frustration has resulted from the slow pace at which a project limps through development at the NZFC."[1]

In fact, the first film to be released with Escalator support was Existence (2012; directed by Juliet Bergh; co-written by Bergh and cinematographer Jessica Charlton),[4] which was part of the scheme's second cohort of applicants.[5] The Commission played a role in bringing Mhairead Connor in as a producer[6] as well as providing Berg and Charlton access to script development assistance from Graeme Tetley as part of their bootcamp experience.[7]

The New Zealand Film Commission often works in conjunction with other government agencies, such as the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry for Tourism and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.

In 2019, the New Zealand Film Commission received public attention and criticism for its taxpayer-funded support of Wolf Warrior 2, a film described as Chinese propaganda.[8]

Film On Demand[edit]

In 2014 the New Zealand Film Commission launched a transactional video on demand service, NZ Film On Demand. The site features NZ films for rent and purchase, with a library of films that will grow over time. The underlying technology of the platform was developed by Hamilton, New Zealand based company Indiereign.[9]


The main classes of records held include:

  • Applications for financial assistance for development, production, distribution and promotion of New Zealand films;
  • Contracts in respect of investments made by the commission; and
  • Contracts in respect of sales of a New Zealand film represented by the commission.


The New Zealand Film Commission is governed by a seven-member board appointed by the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. Members represent the film industry and the wider business and arts community. The Board meets every two months to set policy and budgets, monitor progress against targets and budgets and consider applications for feature film production financing.

Day-to-day activities are carried out by a staff of 46 from their Wellington office. The internal structure is based on four business units (Development and Production, Talent Development and Relationships, Marketing and Screen Incentives Administration) and three support groups (Business Affairs, Finance and Strategy and Research) all linked by strong connections across the organisation.[10] Notable staff have included Mladen Ivančiċ, who was appointed as finance director in 1989 and retired in 2023 after serving as acting CEO on six different occasions.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d Jackson, Peter; Court, David (June 2010). "REVIEW OF THE NEW ZEALAND FILM COMMISSION: A report to the Hon Chris Finlayson, MP, Minister For Arts, Culture & Heritage" (PDF). mch.govt.nz. p. 39-46. Retrieved 20 August 2023.
  2. ^ "On the Escalator: An Update". WIFTNZ. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2023.
  3. ^ "NZFC Low Budget Film Scheme Launched". wiftnz.org.nz. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2023.
  4. ^ "It's the End of the World at the Wellington Film Festival". Scoop.co.nz. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2023.
  5. ^ "Existence". nzfilm.co.nz. Retrieved 19 August 2023.
  6. ^ George, Sandy (6 April 2011). "NZFC invites 12 teams for low-budget Escalator initiative". Screendaily.com. Retrieved 19 August 2023.
  7. ^ "It's the End of the World at the Wellington Film Festival". Scoop.co.nz. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2023.
  8. ^ Coughlan, Thomas (14 November 2019). "Chinese propaganda films are being made in New Zealand at taxpayer expense". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  9. ^ "NZFC LAUNCHES FILM ON DEMAND". www.nzfilm.co.nz. New Zealand Film Commission. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Our Staff". New Zealand Film Commission. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  11. ^ Chumko, André (19 August 2023). "Mladen Ivančić, six-time acting boss of the Film Commission, retires". The Post. p. B4. Retrieved 8 May 2024.

External links[edit]