New Zealand’s locations office, Film New Zealand (FNZ), is taking over the marketing and promotional activities that were previously delivered by Investment New Zealand, which is part of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The news, announced today (Aug 28) by New Zealand Minister for Economic Development Gerry Brownlee, is part of a wider push for the agency to become more proactive in attracting overseas shoots to the country.

“We are at the crossroads of being a very successful location-based organisation for attracting productions or being a very proactive production centre that is all about supplying the global industry with what it is looking for,” FNZ chair Julian Grimmond told ScreenDaily.

“We have to prepare the industry for those who are now 10 years old.”

The soul searching began with a planning meeting in Queenstown in April 2008 and is still continuing.

The second step is likely to be the FNZ taking a leadership role and assessing the demand for New Zealand services and locations and its ability to supply those demands. This will include an examination of infrastructure, from the availability of sound stages to the country’s capability for 3D and other leading technologies.

“We need to look beyond the curve and because this market is small we can be fast moving,” said Grimmond. He wants the New Zealand industry to start acting as one market whether that be for the provision of locations, infrastructure and talent, for local production or for export opportunities.

The news of the agency’s new strategic direction comes one day after the announcement that FNZ chief executive Judith McCann is stepping down after five years in the job.

McCann said it was a good time to step aside and get new blood into the organisation. She has been at the FNZ since July 2004, and leaves on a high note.

According to data from government department Statistics NZ, gross revenue from production for the screen increased 18% to $871m (NZ$1.27bn) in 2008. The biggest growth was in the supply of post-production and visual effects, no doubt due to Peter Jackson’s empire, which includes Park Road Post (PRP) and several studios.

FNZ deputy chair Sue Thompson is minding McCann’s chair until a new chief executive can be found.

FNZ is principally funded by NZ Trade and Enterprise and the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC), the government agency responsible for the growth of the local production industry. There is also some sponsorship from the private sector, which Grimmond hopes to increase.

The NZFC is also doing some navel gazing in that it is undergoing a review with Jacksonbeing one of the people guiding this process.

The sales and marketing department is already being restructured, however, by NZFC chief executive Graeme Mason who is yet to recruit a department head, the role previously held by Kathleen Drumm. Drumm is about to step into the role of head of marketing at Screen Australia where Mason’s predecessor, Ruth Harley, is now chief executive.