Gender Issues For New Zealand Women Filmmakers

Updated March 2014

Erica Duthie and I created a women's film festival in Wellington, 2004, Mahi Ata Mahi Ahua: Women's Work in Film. Its associated site, now closed to additions, gives details of some New Zealand women filmmakers and their work. That was my first close involvement with women's filmmaking.

I started the Wellywood Woman blog during my PhD research 2006-2009, first at the Victoria Management School and later at the International Institute of Modern Letters, funded by a Women in Leadership Scholarship. My thesis, except the feature script for Development-the-movie (Chapter 6) is available online here, and my earlier Report is here (scroll down). I was motivated by my perception that, although women are equally represented and do well in all the creative writing courses at the International Institute of Modern Letters, the women who write for the page continue to succeed after they graduate but the women who write for the screen tend not make the transition to the 'real world' in the same way. Why was that? Why is that? What are the obstacles and where are they? What helps women who write (and direct) for the screen succeed?

Because no New Zealand state funder had ever recorded gender statistics, I collected them for my thesis. In 2010 I made an update for Women in Film & Television, and then revised it for the Development Facebook notes, here. These images are associated with that revision. They show applications and approvals for feature project development, made to the New Zealand Film Commission in the five years 2005-2009, at the Staff Committee/CEO, to the Development Committee and to the Board.




Some of the posts listed here update that work. Others simply record women directors' diverse views about gender issues. I usually ask at least one 'gender' question when I interview a director, because I learn a lot from what each of them says. Other posts address institutional inequities, at the New Zealand Film Commission, the 48 Hours and Make My Movie competitions or at the New Zealand International Film Festival. Others acknowledge gender equity achievements, for example at South Pacific Pictures. Throughout, I often introduce and question my own experiences, sometimes more substantially than others – perhaps as a filmmaker participant (48 Hours Competition) or as a writer or audience member (at Readers and Writers Week).

By mid-late 2013 I had more or less abandoned hope for change in New Zealand and was Moving Forward, to focus on exciting initiatives outside New Zealand.

Lorraine Rowland's thesis The Life of Freelance Film Production Workers in the New Zealand Film Industry also addresses some gender issues.

Employment Choices for Young Women - The influence of gender representation in New Zealand- produced television watched by children (2012)
...shares the findings for a research project on how gender representation in New Zealand-produced television content viewed by children aged 12 years and under can influence girls’ and women’s employment choices in later life.
The analysis of television content was based on a similar study conducted by Smith and Cook at the Geena Davis Institute titled Gender Stereotypes: An Analysis of Popular Films and TV (2008).

2014

Women Directors of Feature Films in New Zealand Written as an entry for an encyclopedia (March)

An Autumn Multi-Tweet & Two Question Day One of the questions is about the New Zealand Film Commission's new Te Ara initiative for Maori and Pasifika filmmakers. Will the initiative benefit women? (March)

Get Your Hopes Up continues the theme of lack of change for New Zealand women who write and direct (March)

2013

Celebrating the NEXTs in Sundance and New Zealand Celebrates successful young women writers and directors, Daisy Thor-Poet, Bella Cook, Elizabeth Newton-Jackson, Emma Savage and Nowshin Humayun and some Auckland law students (December)

New Zealand Film Awards – The Moas #rapeculture, the gender policy failure at the New Zealand Film Commission; and the women nominees at The Moas (November)

Make My Movie: Women's Horrors To Vote For (October)

Sharing the Love Lorde, Eleanor Catton, Jane Campion, Creative New Zealand research and New Zealand Film Commission statistics (October, one of my most read posts ever)

Annie Collins – New Zealand Editor Extraordinaire Annie's edited many docos and features and won many awards. She's legendary, in particular in her insistence on the centrality of kaupapa and ethics (September)

NZFC Short Film Funding 2013 – Women Directors Do Well! (September)

The New Zealand International Film Festival - the New Zealand Directors My fourth year of checking the festival's stats, which continue to reflect New Zealand's failure to produce significant numbers of films by and about women (July)

Dana Rotberg and White Lies|Tuakiri Huna Partly about another immigrant woman director's experience of New Zealand, and her ethics when working with Maori (June)

Nathalie Boltt, Clare Burgess & 'The Silk' Immigrant women talk about their experience in New Zealand (May)

Underrepresentation in Scriptwriting. Again. Includes section on gender bias in New Zealand theatre (April)

Helen Mirren Goes For it (& Women Directors in New Zealand) (March)

They Might Have Completely Forgotten Us Wider gender issues in the arts that affect the NZ filmmaking context  (January)

2012

Women Directors. Globally  Places New Zealand statistics in a global context and relates them to New Zealand state funding for women artists (November)

A New Zealand Problem, Or Two A comprehensive list of features made in New Zealand by New Zealanders over the last decade (November)

NZFC Fresh Shorts Announcement Includes some additional info from the NZFC (September)

New Zealand Update (2) - State Funding For the first time, 50% of features that NZFC funds for production have women directors (though one woman director is shortly replaced by a man); and women finalists predominate in the Script Writer Awards NZ Best Unproduced Feature Script Award (August) 

Golden Age for Women Who Make Movies (2)? Compares New Zealand stats with other parts of the world (August)

New Zealand Updates (1) Catchup on women directors I've written about or interviewed (July)

New Zealand International Film Festival 2012
Women-directed Docos About Men at the NZFF –this and the final post in this series, Men's Docos About Women at the NZFF, have some connection to the larger issue of a perceived hierarchy of documentary funding-by and about men; by women about men; by men about women; and by and about women. (July) 
Documentary Films By & About Women at the NZFF Questioning the androcentricity of the festival and linking it to misogyny in the gaming community (July) 
Women-directed features at NZFF (2) Includes Juliet Bergh's Existence. (July) 
Women-directed Films at the New Zealand Film International Film Festival (1) & Cannes Film Festival (4)  – links equity issues in New Zealand festival to similar issues at the Cannes Film Festival. (July)
Cannes & Women Directors (3) - Zia Mandviwalla (June) Part of a series about women's experiences at the Cannes Film Festival, with New Zealander Zia Mandviwalla

Will There Be Blood? and No Blood, Little Sleep & a New Bechdel Test Film – my experience of the 48 Hours competition) (May)

V48 Hours Women (Francesca Jago, Laurie Wright, Ruth Korver followed by Gaylene Preston) (podcast) (April)

Deborah Jones and Her Glamour & Grind Research (podcast) Deborah's very clear analysis of gender issues in the wider New Zealand industry (April)

Kirstin Marcon and The Most Fun You Can Have Dying (April)

Tautoko for an Unknown Woman – obstacles in action at a New Zealand International Festival's Readers and Writers Week theatre discussion (March)

Pietra Brettkelly & Maori Boy Genius (podcast) (February)

New Zealand update; & A Warm welcome to Dana Rotberg ( February)

2011
Make My Movie, Gynophobia & Mavericks – analysis (November)

Gaylene Preston, Barbara Hammer & Briar March (November)

Flowers for the New Zealand Film Commission – good news re short film funding (September)

Gaylene Preston retrospective at Te Papa (August)

A drama queen sings, briefly New Zealand women directors (August)

South Pacific Pictures (August)

V48 Hours: Women filmmakers working together? (June)

My Wedding & Other Secrets writer/director Roseanne Liang & co-writer Angeline Loo (June)

Mothers Day, NZ cinema makes history & the NZFC breaks a record (May) very heavily read

Yes, we CANNES do it! (April)

The Creation and Deferment of Hope Issues around NZ government incentives (January)

2010
Too much dialogue? Statistical update (December)

MIA Following the Fresh Shorts announcement and NZFC review meetings, refers to this long Facebook note, updating my thesis (December)

Transmedia and women's feature film-making in New Zealand and Ireland More about funding and gender (November)

Keri Kaa; & an interview with Ngahuia Wade (October)

I feel the earth move under my feet: Chris Vogler and GIRLS LIKE US Chris Vogler visit (NZFC sponsorship) (September)

Aussie Sequel 1: Histories & Economics Some Comparisons with Australia (August)

Sequels, Remakes & Reboots Analysis NZFC Review (July)

Performance, Audience, & the New Zealand Film Commission Funding decisions (July)

The Insatiable Moon: Feeling joyous about humanity director Rosemary Riddell (June)

After the Waterfall writer/director Simone Horrocks (June)

Duet for Merata Mita 1942-2010 with Cushla Parekowhai (June)

The Big Picture: Could I Do That? – see comments re V48Hours (June)

Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity, Progress for All (March)

2009
Looking Towards a New World (December)

It's about human rights  includes update Short Film Fund (December)

Peter Jackson: Find, Train & Support Good Writers December 2009

Peter Jackson to head NZFC Review (June)

Open Letter from a Woman Director (June)

Short Film Fund Decisions (May)

New Zealand Women Playwrights (May) playwright Branwen Millar on the dismal statistics re women playwrights in NZ. The link to her Playmarket magazine article is dead, but probably can be accessed through libraries.

Gender & Terms of Reference for NZFC Review (April)

Aren't blogs wonderful? NZFC & 48Hours (April)

Feature statistics, Jinx Sister, the shadow industry, & my thesis script – Statistics and the 'shadow' industry (January)