When it comes to creative filmmaking - it's a practical business.
Financing and Budget
Once you have a script ready for production, a producer and director attached, you'll need to create a budget for your film to work out how much funding you need, and a cashflow schedule to work out when you'll need it.
First films are often low-budget as new filmmakers are usually unable to attract significant financing. Low-budget feature films are made for less than NZ$1 million and require a methodology so the film can be made cheaply without compromising quality (for example shooting all in one room, or shooting on weekends). There are an increasing number of low budget initiatives available, including Make My Movie - which we support. You may also find a way to secure your own finance through sponsorship or cash or goods and services support.
Post production financing and prints & advertising grants are available to help some productions that have already been shot.
For features it’s important to think about how you’ll get your film seen. You need to make sure you’ve kept enough money aside to be able to deliver your film to the audience and to any festivals here or overseas that it may be selected for. Some money will need to be allocated to marketing, a trailer, an electronic press kit, insurances (including Errors and Omissions Insurance), music licenses (world rights will be more expensive than domestic rights), archival footage (can be very expensive), and legal fees. Good budgets contain roughly 40% for post-production and an unallocated contingency, for emergencies, of roughly 5-10%.
Locating and Contracting Cast and Crew
A local line producer, production managers, casting agent, acting agency, or drama or film school can help you find cast and crew. You may also find Film New Zealand or websites such as The Big Idea useful.
New Zealand has strict guidelines for employment. We suggest you get yourself a copy of the Pink Book (for cast) and the Blue Book (for crew). These are the official codes of practice and are available through the SPADA website. The New Zealand Writers' Guild (NZWG), Actors Equity, The Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA), New Zealand Film and Video Technicians’ Guild and the Screen Directors' Guild of New Zealand (SDGNZ) can also offer advice. These organisations, in addition to actors’ agents, may also be available to help with template contracts. International cast and crew may also be subject to specific Immigration requirements.
As soon as possible during the writing process you should look to establish a new company to act as the holder of all rights and signatory to all contracts for the film. This company is known as a Special Purpose Vehicle or SPV. You can easily establish one online for a small fee by visiting the New Zealand Companies Office website. Think carefully about who will act as directors and shareholders in this company as this can affect ownership and say in the project. Company directors will be the signatories for contracts for the company.
Chain of title is a technical term referring to the chain of ownership of the idea the project is based on:
- If the team picks up a script that has already been started or is adapting another type of work into a film then the SPV will need an option and purchase agreement
- If the team brings any writers on board to adapt the optioned work, or provide editing or consultant services, then a writer's or script consultant's agreement will need to be entered into with the SPV
- If either agreement is entered into with a party other than the SPV then that party will need to enter into a deed of assignment with the SPV prior to receiving funding
All rights must sit with the SPV and form an unbroken chain in order to be considered for our funding or distribution deals. Templates for these agreements are available at the NZWG website.
If you receive financing from us, we’ll need you to enter into a funding agreement (which we can draft). We may also initiate a sales agency agreement and/or a security agreement and lab access letters. You will need cast and crew contracts for your lead cast and core team. We may also require a bank mandate, confirmation of insurance, completion bond, TV license, legal opinions, and any pre-sale or distribution agreements although many of these requirements are waived for lower budget films.
There are a number of local lawyers who can help with the various levels of contracting that may be required. If you’re seeking financing from us, please ensure you budget for our legal fees.