Filmmakers lash out at cost to attend Power of Inclusion Summit

Prospective attendees have lashed out at the cost to attend the New Zealand Film Commission-aligned Power of Inclusion Summit, currently taking place in Auckland.

The summit focuses on representation and inclusion in the film industry and features speakers including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, actress Geena Davis and director Niki Caro.

But it costs $495+ GST to attend, or $350 for students or emerging filmmakers, which has left some people interested in heading along fuming.

"I feel like that's a heck of a lot considering I also have to take two days off work," filmmaker Elana Tkatch, who says she would have qualified for the lower price, told Newshub. 

"It works out to be like almost, after-tax, like half my [weekly] pay after I pay all my loans and stuff back. It's just not achievable.

The event's organisers offered 150 scholarships for low-earning or unwaged filmmakers to go for free, but Tkatch says she didn't see anything about it when she first found the event.

"I literally heard about them yesterday.  I obviously didn't do a very good job of looking at the website, but my friend posted on Facebook he was kind of pissed about them because he just thought it was kind of tokenistic. "

Thirty of them were given out by the New Zealand Film Commission and various screen industry groups, while 120 tickets were allocated according to a ballot.

A chance at the ballot was open to anyone currently working or studying in the screen sector who earns less than $44,000 per annum or belongs to a community underrepresented in the screen sector.

According to a report from underrepresented groups include Māori, Pacific Island peoples, Pan Asian, gender non-binary, LGBTQ+ or people with a disability.

Another filmmaker Newshub spoke to, who wants to remain anonymous for fear of professional repercussions, said they didn't know anyone who successfully applied for the ballot.

"The programme hasn't really worked out the way that I had intended to, because, through many conversations with several different friends that wanted to go they haven't been able to get [them]." 

On top of that applications didn't require any documentation or proof, which the filmmaker said was problematic.

"You could be a very wealthy business person and apply for somebody's scholarship ticket so there's no way to kind of manage or critique whether someone should or shouldn't be allowed to apply for these tickets."

A woman.
Geena Davis at the Power of Inclusion Summit. Photo credit: Newshub.

But the filmmaker was pragmatic too, noting that these kinds of events aren't exactly free to put on.

"I can understand that it costs money to pay people and when you have some of the most famous practitioners in the world coming to New Zealand, you know you have to think about the cost of flights and accommodation and their fee."

Tkatch said it was unfortunate not everyone could afford to go as there were a lot of people that needed to be there.

"It's important to have these talks but I also think it's important to have every type of person in the room.

"Unfortunately, there's a huge amount of people who cannot even afford to go."

NZ Fim Commission says the prices are reasonable when compared to other similar events, especially ones involving international speakers. 

"The Summit is a significant global event for established and emerging industry professionals. International speakers include Geena Davis, Steven Canals, Jon Landau, Yara Shahidi and Magda Szubanski.

"In August, a two-day Workplace Inclusion and Diversity Summit was held in Auckland with registration starting at NZ$2,299. Registration at the Inclusive Education Summit planned for later this month starts at $300. Registration at the NZ Digital Identity one day Summit in Wellington on October 16th is NZ$1,599."

NZ Film Commission says the many of the sessions were recorded and will be shared for everyone to view at some point in the future. 


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