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A New Zealand Problem, Or Two

The information in this post was updated in November 2014 and is further updated on the Writer & Director in Gender in NZ Feature Films page.

Loren Taylor in Existence
This week, to write what I've agreed to write, I’ve had to come back to New Zealand gender statistics, after eighteen months of learning from countries’ figures, most of them supplied by others – France, Sweden, the United States (including films by women from around the world shown at festivals there), Australia and Canada.

New Zealand has such a small population that – with help – I’ve been able to identify most features made and written and/or directed by New Zealanders, 2003-2014. Co-productions funded by the taxpayer-funded New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) are also included, because I want to be able to track the NZFC's overall investment in women writers and directors.

Most on the list have been released in cinemas or shown on television. But some have been offered taxpayer production funding and are somewhere in the process between early pre-production and post-production. They are undated.

The list excludes feature documentaries but includes a group of hybrid works – Home By ChristmasRain of the ChildrenLove StoryThe Red HouseBeyond the EdgeGiselle, The Deadly Ponies Gang.

I don't include features that New Zealand women writers and directors filmed overseas and New Zealand taxpayers didn't fund at all, like Niki Caro’s North Country and now McFarland, USAChristine Jeff’s Sunshine Cleaning and Miro Bilbrough’s Being Venice. And some New Zealand women directors aren’t represented on this list  of features– Jane Campion, who recently came home to make a teleseries Top of the Lake, Alison Maclean who will return to Christchurch to shoot her adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal, which she’s writing with Emily Perkins, as well as Christine Jeffs and Miro Bilbrough.

Please let me know of any additions and if you’d like your information amended.

TF: Taxpayer Funded – for development and/or production and/or post-production, by the New Zealand Film Commission, New Zealand On Air (NZOA), Creative New Zealand or other central government or local body film scheme. NZFC features are usually also NZOA funded.  
TM: Telemovie 
TFCP: Taxpayer funded international co-production 
*: written &/or directed by men, with a female protagonist 
This list shows that we have a gender problem (or two). A related post, inspired by an unexpected email, will come soon and consider  a couple of possible new solutions (Women Directors. Globally., now here, though I'm not sure about the 'solutions'.)

Written & Directed by Women and With Women Protagonists
1. Perfect Strangers (2003) wr/dir Gaylene Preston TF
2. Jinx Sister (2007) wr/dir Athina Tsoulis
3. Piece of My Heart (2008) wr/dir Fiona Samuel TF TM
4. My Wedding & Other Secrets (2011) wr Angeline Loo & Roseanne Liang dir Roseanne Liang TF
5. Bliss (2012) wr/dir Fiona Samuel TF TM
6. Existence (2012) wr Jessica Charlton & Juliet Bergh dir Juliet Bergh TF
7. White Lies/ Tuakiri Huna (2013) wr/dir Dana Rotberg TF
8. Queen of Carthage (2013) wr Shiloh Fernandez, Mardana M. Mayginnes dir Mardana M. Mayginnes

Written & Directed by Women
1. Apron Strings (2007) wr Shuchi Kothari & Dianne Taylor dir Sima Urale TF
2. The Strength of Water (2007) wr Briar Grace-Smith dir Armagan Ballantyne TF
3. Vintner’s Luck (2008) wr Niki Caro & Joan Sheckel dir Niki Caro TF
4. Home For Christmas (2008) wr/dir Gaylene Preston TF
5. After the Waterfall (2010) wr/dir Simone Horrocks TF
6. Kawa (Nights in the Garden of Spain) (2011) wr Kate McDermott dir Katie Wolfe TF
7. The Most Fun You Can Have Dying (2012) wr/dir Kirsten Marcon TF
8. The Red House (2012) wr/dir Alyx Duncan TF
9. Beyond The Edge (2012) wr/dir Leanne Pooley TF
10. Irirangi Bay (2012) wr Riwia Brown dir Awanui Simich-Pene TF TM
11. Sunday (2014) wr Dustin Clare, Camille Keenan, Michelle Joy Lloyd, dir Michelle Joy Lloyd

Written by Women
1. Until Proven Innocent (2008) wr Donna Malane & Paula Boock dir Peter Burger TF TM
2. Bloodlines (2010) wr Donna Malane & Paula Boock dir Peter Burger TF TM
3. Billy (2011) wr Briar Grace-Smith dir Peter Burger TF TM
4. Tangiwai (2011) wr Donna Malane & Paula Boock dir Charlie Heskell TF TM
5. Fresh Meat (2012) wr Briar Grace-Smith dir Danny Mulheron TF
6. Fantail (2013) wr Sophie Henderson dir Curtis Vowell
7. Pirates of the Airwaves (2014) wr Donna Malane & Paula Boock dir Charlie Heskell TF TM
8. Field Punishment no 1 (2014) wr Donna Malane & Paula Boock dir Peter Burger TF TM
9. Beyond the Known World wr Dianne Taylor dir Pan Nalin (India) TFCP

Directed by a Woman
1. John (2005) dir Astrid Glitter
2. The Insatiable Moon (2010) wr Mike Riddell dir Rosemary Riddell

Co-written &/or Co-directed by Women
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) wr Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson dir Peter Jackson TF
2. Gupta versus Gordon  (2003) wr/ Jitendra Pal & Lucy White dir Jitendra Pal
3. King Kong (2005) wr Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson dir Peter Jackson TF
4. Second-hand Wedding (2007) wr Nick Ward & Linda Niccol dir Paul Murphy TF (woman protagonist) 
5. Down By the Riverside (2007) wr/dir Marama Killen & Brad Davison TF
6. Taking the Waewae Express (2007) wr Andrea Bosshard dir Andrea Bosshard & Shane Loader
7. Invitation to a Voyage (2007) wr Victoria Wynn-Jones & Daniel Strang dir Victoria Wynn-Jones & Daniel Strang TF
8. Men Shouldn't Sing (2007) wr Jeff Clark dir Sarah Higginson & Michael Bell
9. Hugh & Heke (2010) wr Reston Griffiths & Tricia Kelly dir Reston Griffiths
10. Hook, Line & Sinker (2011) wr Andrea Bosshard & Shane Loader dir Andrea Bosshard & Shane Loader
11. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) wr Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro dir Peter Jackson TF
12. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) wr Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson dir Peter Jackson
13. The Deadly Ponies Gang (2013) wr Zoe McIntosh and Clint Rarm dir Zoe McIntosh
14. Timeslow (2014 p/p) story by Sally Tran wr Steve Barr & Sally Tran dir Sally Tran
15. Rosa (2014) wrs Beatrix Christian, Dan Hennah, Graeme Tetley dir Ray Lawrence (Australia) TFCP

Written & Directed by Men
1. Nemesis Game (2003) wr/dir Jesse Warn
2. Skin & Bone (2003) wr Greg McGee dir Chris Bailey TF TM
3. Fracture (2003) wr/dir Larry Parr TF
4. For Good (2003) wr/dir Stuart McKenzie TF
5. The Locals (2003) wr/dir Greg Page TF
6. Christmas (2003) wr/dir Gregory King TF
7. Woodenhead (2003) wr/dir Florian Habicht TF
8. This Is Not A Love Story (2003) wr/dir Keith Hill
9. Orphans & Angels (2003) wr/dir Harold Brodie
10. I Think I’m Going (2003) wr Alexander Greenhough & Richard Whyte dir Alexander Greenhough & Elric Kane
11. Why Can’t I Stop This Uncontrollable Dancing (2003) wr/ dir Campbell Walker
12. In My Father’s Den (2004) wr/dir Brad McGann TF
13. Spooked (2004) wr/ dir Geoff Murphy TF
14. 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous (2004) wr/ dir Stewart Main TF
15. Murmurs (2004) wr/dir Alexander Greenhough & Elric Kane
16. Futile Attraction (2004) wr Mark Prebble & Benedict Reid dir Mark Prebble TF
17. 1 Nite (2004) wr/dir Amarbir Singh
18. The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) wr/ dir Roger Donaldson TF
19. River Queen (2005) wr Vincent Ward & Toa Fraser dir Vincent Ward TF (woman protagonist)
20. Perfect Creature (2005) wr/ dir Glenn Standring TF
21. No 2 (2005) wr/ dir Toa Fraser TF
22. {Dream Preserved} (2005) wr/ dir Stephen Kang
23. Luella Miller (2005) wr Owen Black Dane Giraud dir Dane Giraud
24. Sione's Wedding (2005) wr James Griffin & Oscar Kightley dir Chris Graham TF
25. Memories of Tomorrow (2005) wr/dir Amit Tripuraneni
26. Blackspot (2005) wr Ben & Luke Hawker dir Ben Hawker
27. Hidden (2005) wr/ dir Tim McLachlan
28. Be Sharp See Flat wr/ dir Jack Woon
29. The Ferryman (2006) wr Nick Ward dir Chris Graham TF
30. Black Sheep (2006) wr/ dir Jonathan King TF
31. Out Of The Blue (2006) wr Graeme Tetley & Robert Sarkies dir Robert Sarkies TF
32. Eagle vs Shark wr/dir Taika Waititi TF
33. The Devil Dared Me To TF wr Matt Heath & Chris Stapp dir Chris Stapp TF
34. Event 16 (2006) wr/ dir Derek Pearson TF
35. The Waimate Conspiracy (2006) wr/ dir Stefen Lewis TF
36. The Tattooist (2006) wr Matthew Grainger & Jonathan King dir Peter Burger TF
37. Quiet Night In (2006) wr/ dir Christopher Banks
38. The Last Magic Show (2007) wr/ dir Andy Conlan TF
39. A Song of Good (2007) wr/ dir Greg King TF
40. We're Here To Help (2007) wr/ dir Jonathan Cullinane TF
41. Rain of the Children (2007) wr Vincent Ward and Alison Carter, Louis Nowra dir Vincent Ward TF (woman protagonist)
42. Kissy Kissy (2007) wr/ dir Alexander Greenhough & Elric Kane
43. When Night Falls (2007) wr/ dir Alex Galvin
44. Love Has No Language (2007) wr T J Millbank dir Ken Khan
45. Show of Hands (2007) wr/ dir Anthony McCarten TF
46. FIVE (2007) wr D F Mamea dir Amit Tripuraneni
47. Fallacy (2007) wr Timothy Michael H & Gair Cook dir Gair Cook
48. The Last Great Snail Chase (2007) wr/ dir Edwar Lyndon-Bell
49. Waiting For The Big Fat One (2007) wr/ dir Troy Williams
50. Stringer (2007) wr Steven Morrison & Poata Eruera dir Steven Morrison
51. Last of The Living (2007) wr/ dir Logan Macmillan
52. Dean Spanley (2008) wr Alan Sharp dir Toa Fraser TF
53. Under The Mountain (2008) wr/ dir Jonathan King TF
54. Separation City (2008) wr Tom Scott dir Paul Middleditch TF
55. Life's a Riot (2008) wr Dean Parker dir Ian Mune TF
56. The Map Reader (2008) wr/ dir Harold Brodie TF
57. Russian Snark (2008) wr/ dir Stephen Sinclair
58. I'm Not Harry Jenson (2009) wr/ dir James Napier Robertson
59. Predicament (2010) wr/ dir Jason Stutter TF
60. Boy (2010) wr/ dir Taika Waititi TF
61. Matariki (2010) Michael Bennett, Iaheto Ahi, Gavin Strawhan dir Michael Bennett TF
62. The Hopes & Dreams of Gazza Snell (2010) wr Brendan Donovan & David Brechin-Smith dir Brendan Donovan TF
63. Captain Amazingly Incredible and The Space Vampires From The Evil Planet!!!
64. The Holy Roller (2010) wr/ dir Patrick Gillies
65. Wound (2010) wr/ dir David Blyth
66. Desert (2010) wr/ dir Stephen Kang
67. Rage (2011) wr Tom Scott & Grant O'Fee dir Danny Mulheron TF TM
68. Waitangi – What Really Happened (2011) wr Gavin Strawhan dir Peter Burger TF TM
69. Rest for The Wicked (2011) wr Bob Moore dir Simon Pattison TF
70. Lovebirds (2011) wr Nick Ward dir Paul Murphy TF
71. The Fall Guys (2011) wr/ dir Scott Murphy
72. The Devil's Rock (2011) wr Paul Finch, Paul Campion, Brett Ihaka dir Paul Campion TF
73. Tracker (2011) wr Nicolas Von Pallandt dir Ian Sharp
74. Good For Nothing (2011) wr/ dir Mike Wallis
75. The Orator/ O Le Tulafale (2011) wr/ dir Tusi Tamasese TF
76. Seige (2011) wr John Banas dir Mike Smith TF TM
77. Love Story (2011) wr/ dir Florian Habicht TF
78. What Really Happened - Votes for Women (2011) wr Gavin Strawhan dir (? I did know and think it was a man, but can't confirm) TF TM (about women)
79. Two Little Boys (2012) wr Robert Sarkies & Duncan Sarkies dir Robert Sarkies TF
80. Kiwi Flyer (2012) wr Tony Simpson & Andrew Gunn dir Tony Simpson TF
81. Mr Pip (2012) wr/ dir Andrew Adamson TF
82. Sione's Wedding - Unfinished Business (2012) wr James Griffin & Oscar Kightley dir Simon Bennett TF
83. We Feel Fine (2012) wr Jeremy Dumble dir Adam Luxton & Jeremy Dumble
84. Eternity (2012) wr/dir Alex Galvin
85. Mt Zion (2012) wr/ dir Tearapa Kahi TF
86. Safe House (2012) wr John Banas dir John Laing TF
87. How To Meet Girls From a Distance (2012) wr Dan Hewison, Richard Falkner, Sam Dickson dir Dean Hewison TF
88. Netherwood (2012) wr John Argall dir Cristobal Araus Lobos
89. The Weight of Elephants wr/ dir Daniel Joseph Borgman TF
90. Giselle (2012) wr/dir Toa Fraser TF (woman protagonist)
91. The Pa Boys (2012) wr/ dir Himiona Grace TF
92. Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song (2013) wr Michael A J O'Neill, Peter Van Der Fluit, Tim Van Dammen dir Tim Van Dammen
93. The Kick (2013) wr Tom Scott and Phil Smith dir Danny Mulheron TF TM
94. Shopping (2013) wr/dir Mark Albiston & Louis Sutherland TF
95. Crackheads (2013) wr Andy Sophocleous, Tim Tsiklauri, dir Tim Tsiklauri
96. Jake (2013) wr/dir Doug Dillaman
97. Million Dollar Mate (2013) wr Chris Herd and Matthew Scott dir Chris Herd
98. Kiwi Productions (2013) wr/dir Cheng Chen Yu
99. Floyd (2013 p/p) wr/dir Matt Gibbons
100. Enter/Man (2013) wr/dir Patrick Gillies
101. Lexi (2014) wr/dir Wayne Turner
102. Ghost Bride (2014) wr/dir David Blyth
103. Everything We Loved (2014)
104. Housebound (2014) TF
105. The Dark Horse (2014) TF
106. The Dead Lands (2014) wr Glenn Standring dir Toa Fraser TF
107. The Last Saint (2014) wr/dir Rene Naufahu
108. Realiti (2014) wr Chad Taylor dir Jonathan King
109. What We Do in the Shadows (2014) wr/dir Taika Waititi/Jemaine Clement TF
110. Born To Dance wr/dir Tammy Davis TF
111. The Patriarch 

wr John Collee
 dir Lee Tamahori TF
112. Atomic Falafel wr/dir Dror Shaul (Israel) TFCP (post-production only)
113. Turbo Kid (Canada) TFCP
114. Three Mile Limit wr Andrew Gunn dir Craig Newland TPF

Total number of films (up to 2012 only): 128
Written and directed by women: 16 – 12.5%
Written and directed by men: 92 – 72%
Mixed gender writer/director teams: 20 – 15.5%
Director gender unknown: 2
Directed (including co-directed) by women – 19%
Directed (excluding co-directed) by women – 14%

Written and directed by women and with a woman protagonist: 7 – 5.5%

I've identified six films with women protagonists or about women which have mixed gender or all-men writer/ director teams – another 5%. There may be more. Is a 10% total enough stories about women?

Michael Stephens, whose collegiality I much appreciate.
My PhD Development: Opening Space for Women's Participation in Scriptwriting for Feature Films?
New Zealand Films on VHS Tapes & DVD
New Zealand Herald article on New Zealand Film Awards 2012

20 November 2012
I've just found two more resources, on the beautiful new NZFC website, a funding list for 2009-2012 and October 2012's funding list. And have updated the list.

November 2013
A slight update of the list but not the percentages. More coming soon (ish).


  1. Great post illuminating a real issue in New Zealand. Good on you for collating all that information.

    One observation is that only one film written/directed by a woman was not taxpayer funded, compared to 44% (40 films) written and directed by men.

    Perhaps that is one area where the discrepancy between genders could be improved?

  2. Thank you! Your observation is spot on and when I noticed that trend (much more marked since 2008), it confirmed one of my hunches, which I'll write about in the next post.

  3. I know that this is harder to quantify - but in my experience, with shorts anyway (which are indeed a driver and talent development area for NZ features) - one of the main problems that you'd be extremely lucky to get 20% of projects in any submission round from women.

    This makes it very hard to have a balance. If it was 50/50 things would be more even. Hard to quantify I know. But it has been going on for many years now.

  4. Hi Anonymous! Thanks for your comment. I'm not sure where you got your information. Here are the figures for the last two years NZFC Fresh Shorts programmes, vis Lisa Chatfield who runs the programmes. Big thanks to her!

    Fresh 10 Directors: 47 out of 151 were women (31%)
    Fresh 30 Directors: 29 out of 119 were women (24%)

    = 28% of total applications (270) had women directors attached

    5 out of 16 green-lit directors were women (31.25%)

    Fresh 10 Directors 48 out of 159 were women (30%)
    Fresh 30 Directors 31 out of 132 were women (23%)

    = 27% of total applications (291) had women directors attached.

    But in contrast to 2012, in 2011 four out of the eight successful applications to each programme had women directors attached: 50%

    I'm not sure what these figures mean. These proportions of applications with women directors attached are very similar to gender proportions of applicants for early development funding in the past. (See sidebar for my Development thesis (2010) and PhD Report for People Who've Helped Me (2008).) It's also almost identical to the proportion of women who applied for the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships this year, which interests me because I'm keeping an eye on international comparisons.

    I know that the NZFC’s 'Review of NZFC Short Film Strategy' (2007) showed that in the decade up to 2007 women directed 37 percent of the total NZFC-funded short films, but does not provide statistics re directors attached to applications. And I'm interested that the women-directed shorts were then 42 percent of all NZFC-funded shorts accepted for ‘A’ list film festivals; and as individuals women were significantly more likely to make an ‘A’ list film – 60 percent of women-directed short films were accepted for an ‘A’ list festival, but only 48 percent of those that men directed. Has that changed?

    I also know that the feature statistics for that period and the following years showed that the short film 'pathway' to feature filmmaking did not work as well for women as for men, in spite of this 'A' list success. (I don’t know whether women from other countries use short films as stepping-stones to features more or less successfully than New Zealanders.)

    Why is the proportion of applications with women directors attached so similar in both years? Why don't more women apply? Why were more women directors attached to Fresh 10 applications in both years than to Fresh 30 applications? Is this an illustration of women being less ambitious than men? Or of their producers being less ambitious for women? Why did women directors do so much better in 2011 than in 2012? Why has the proportion of NZFC-funded women directors of short films decreased since 2007? Why does the short film 'pathway' not work well for women? Any answers or theories very very welcome!

  5. Has Lisa given you the Premiere Shorts stats? Those would be interesting to look at too.

  6. No, she hasn't, though the 2012 short list stats are here (towards the end): I haven't asked for the Premiere Shorts applications stats because applications go – as you probably know – to producer groups outside the NZFC and as far as I know they are not required to furnish statistical information about gender. But I'll email Lisa now and ask!


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