23 February 2007



Robin Laing is a producer as well as the chair of the Film School board. She talked to us about the process of financing a film and the possibilities for funding in New Zealand and Australia. There are two different ways of funding a project, commissioning and working on spec. Most commissioned projects are for TV, educational or advertising. Other types of projects are created by the film maker on spec, i.e. they have an idea and try to get it funded or find investors. In NZ most funding is government money in one way or another; other options are taking out a loan, pre-sell to a distributor, get a distribution or screening guarantee, or to lower the budget by getting services in kind and the crew to defer their fees.

Robin pointed out the importance of knowing your target audience before starting any film, and to research distributors and potential buyers to see if there is a market. New Zealand has co-production treaties with France, the UK, Ireland, South Africa and Italy, amongst others, so there is the possibility to get funding for a local project by going abroad. Robin also talked about the possibilities of starting out by making a short film. While there is little market for those in New Zealand, there is a market offshore and at festivals, so they are a way of getting known. The Film Commission has three producer teams who help make short films. Unfortunately she also mentioned that there is no documentary financing in New Zealand, so this would probably mean going at least to Australia to get funding.

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