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Policy and practice: funding and strategies for short film in New Zealand 1994-1998

This research foregrounds funding influences on the strategies of short film practice in New Zealand. It seeks to connect the processes of policy and practice and the relationships of institutions and individuals as they impinge on short film. It also illustrates some of these processes as they jointly influence the types of short film that are finally produced. The research was based on the responses, from questionnaires and interviews, of over forty funders, producers and directors engaged in the relationships required for funding short film as well as an analysis of appropriate documents relevant to this funding area. The theoretical approach is context based and adapts Hall’s concept of articulation in conjunction with Wartenburg’s concept of alignment. Hall’s theory links the collective influences in a particular context without requiring a dominant determining element as a focus for explanation. This approach characterises short film practices as part of a cultural formation - a formation of contexts - and implies that there are different combinations of influences within each of these contexts. This group of contexts and their respective influences together shape the funding influences on the strategies of short film. Wartenburg theorises the nature of the collaborative relationships involved in the cultural contexts in terms of alignments and these focus on the mutual discursive relationships that are necessary in order for individuals or institutions to achieve their goals. It assumes that the collective influence on these discursive strategies constrains the degree to which any one individual can establish a relationship of dominance. The foregrounding of discourse is important for this research, but only when it is integrated with the idea of “voice” which is based on an idea developed from Shohat and Stam. The concept of “voice” refers to the plurality of discourses individuals utilise to establish their own positions within any context. This helps to explain the dynamic nature of contexts with individual “voices” influencing the discourses of contexts by introducing elements of other discursive experiences. Taking a top-down approach, moving from the political agenda for funding to film makers and their strategies for funding application, this research foregrounds the importance of both the macropolitical and micropolitical insisting that while political and economic conditions have important consequences for funding the alignments established in the funding process are also influenced by a myriad of other social relationships. The research considers the discursive alignments involved in funding regimes of Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission especially in terms of the contexts of the Screen Innovation Production Fund and the Talent Development Initiative. It outlines the different displacements and re-alignments that have occurred in these funding contexts. It concludes that the intersection of funding policy and film practice is an important area of research and illustrates the various ways these contexts play their own roles in the shaping of the actual films produced. This thesis also offers a method of researching the contexts of other related film practices such as the contexts of reception, critical interpretation, exhibition and marketing, and film pedagogy, and this is an approach suitable for other cultural practices outside the domain of film as it is useful in examining the ways contexts influence cultural artefacts.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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