Queenstowner resigns as chairman of Film New Zealand

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The final credits are rolling on Queenstowner Julian Grimmond’s long leadership of Film New Zealand (FNZ).
 
The Emmy-winning TV producer exits the national location-marketing organisation on July 1 – after nearly eight years on the board, including almost six as chair.
 

Grimmond’s departure coincides with a withering North & South expose on FNZ.
 
However, the Queenstowner maintains his exit was planned long ago – Grimmond says he signalled it last November and finalised the timing in March.
 
The eight-page North & South article contains trenchant criticism of FNZ and Grimmond by leading NZ film figures.
 
An example is Sir Peter Jackson’s stinger: “I still don’t know why Film NZ sat back and watched the New Zealand film industry die.”
 
Invited to answer the critics, Grimmond, 46, refuses to pan North & South’s piece.
 
Grimmond: “My overwhelming sense of that article is that the industry needs to work together for a positive outcome for the creative economy and the creative sector.” 

His chairman’s role was “to give governance and service FNZ’s contract with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)”, he says. 

“We’ve had glowing reports back from MBIE and an increase in funding based on what we do and I’m very proud of that.” 

The North & South article says Queenstown filmos “really had it in for [Grimmond]” – his reaction? 

Grimmond: “There’s always going to be a difference of opinion in any sector and I think healthy debate’s fantastic.” 

He returns to his central theme: “The key thing is we need to work together for a positive outcome.’’ 

Grimmond “100 per cent” backs FNZ boss Giselle Carr about her organisation being the country’s locations and enquiries office – not a representative industry body. 

“FNZ has a mandate under our MBIE contract to market and promote NZ [whereas regional film offices] have a mandate to be the best possible location for productions to base themselves there,” Grimmond says. 

“That’s the only difference I can see.” 

Grimmond likens the relationship between FNZ and regional film offices to that of Tourism NZ and tourism offices such as Destination Queenstown. 

He flags last week’s announcement of new grouping Screen NZ as “incredibly positive”. 

This “virtual agency” between the NZ Film Commission, FNZ and NZ On Air will “work strategically for the betterment of the industry”, Grimmond predicts. 

He also comments cautiously on a personal matter which cropped up in Queenstown District Court last Monday. Police withdrew a charge against him of intentionally damaging a vehicle belonging to fellow local filmo Gary Strangman. Grimmond: “I’m pleased there’s no case.”