Covid-19 crisis: Government announces $73m film and TV sector recovery package

The Government has unveiled its screen sector recovery package to protect jobs and investment in New Zealand productions in the wake of Covid-19.

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Much of that will go towards funding five new feature films and series. Source: 1 NEWS

That includes a $73.4 million Screen Production Fund, $50m of which will be used to produce up to five feature films or limited series screen productions.

The other $23.4m will be distributed through NZ On Air and the New Zealand Film Commission to provide funding for the additional costs incurred by screen productions that have been shut down, delayed or constrained by Covid-19 restrictions.

Associate Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni said the Screen Production Fund would ensure more than 230 productions that employed thousands of New Zealanders were not abandoned due to additional costs.

The screen industry contributes around $3.3bn to GDP, and employs 16,200 people.

This year's Budget earmarked $140m to cover New Zealand's ongoing commitments under the New Zealand Screen Production Grant for International Productions.

That includes $25m of funds that will be re-allocated towards New Zealand feature films.

Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford said New Zealand's quick response to Covid-19 had given the country a competitive advantage.

"The Government's proactive response to Covid-19 means not only is it safe to resume screen production, [but] sooner than our international competitors," he said.

Twyford said New Zealand continued to attract a number of international screen projects, including the Avatar sequels, and Amazon's TV series based on The Lord of the Rings.

"Beyond these large projects, we are also pleased to be attracting a range of other international productions and interest in New Zealand as a screen production location remains very strong," he said.

Another $25m would also be spent over four years to NZ On Air to make sure diverse audiences could get the information they need.

Minister of Broadcasting Kris Fa'afoi said the cultural sector was hit hard by the impacts of Covid-19 and that experience had reinforced that vital information such as health messages needed to be easily available to everyone.

"Many media have had a significant increase in audience numbers during Covid-19, which highlighted the crucial role our media play in connecting people with information.

"At the same time our media, which has been grappling with financial challenges for some years, is now experiencing a further dramatic drop in advertising revenue since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.