Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Film Commssion stuffed with business apparatchiks

The terms of service of five members of the New Zealand Film Commission's board will end in June this year.

The members giving up their positions are the Chair, David Cullwick, Vanessa Alexander, Andrew Cornwell, Wendy Palmer and Shane Simpson. Three of the out going members of the board have film industry experience that I'm aware of: Vanessa Alexander (1), Andrew Cornwell and Wendy Palmer (both 2).

This means the board will shrink from its current eight members to six. The three new members do not appear to have any industry background. They are identified Patsy Reddy, Rhiannon Evans and Charles Finny. Their credentials are described thus:
Patsy Reddy will be the new Chair. She has held a number of corporate directorships including Telecom, New Zealand Post, Air New Zealand, and Sky City Entertainment, along with a broad range of creative and community sector governance roles.


Charles Finny has a held a range of positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is a regular commentator one economic, environmental, and trade policy. He is the CEO of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce.


Rhiannon Evans, from Christchurch, has relationship, analytical, and commercial experience with investment banking in New Zealand and London. (3)

These people may have temendous skills and enthusiasm for the role, and may be very successful. But it makes me very uncomfortable to see the balance of the board being shifted so markedly, and industry experience and connections being treated so casually.

I don't want to sound reuctive, and I'm resisting the temptation (thought 'tis hard) to suggest this is some rightwing conspiracy with the goal of running the New Zealnd film industry on a strictly commercial basis and the limp wristed artists can go hang, along with the 'vision.' But investment banking and telecommunications is not like film-making, and vice versa. I would be concerned if the board of Telecom was made up of bearded artistes and down-at-heel writers. Likewise, I'm concerned that half the board of the film commission is now made up of non-industry business men and women.

There may be further appointments as the board can have between six and nine members. Another member, director and producer Tainui Stephens will give up his position before the end of the year. It is essential that he is replaced with someone with similar industry expereince, and any further appointments have industry experience.
1 - Biographical sumamry of Vanessa Alexander, published by NZonscreen.com, viewed 13th of July, 2009. (http://www.nzonscreen.com/person/vanessa-alexander/biography)
2 - Biographical summaries of the members of the NZ Film Sales Advisory Committee, including Andrew Cornwell and Wendy Palmer. Viewed on the 13th of July, 2009.
3 - "New appointments to Film Commission," press release by Christopher Finlayson, publihsed by beehive.gov.nz, 13th of July, 2009. (http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/new+appointments+film+commission)

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