NZCS Executive Officer, Amber Wakefield, served on The Screen Guilds' 'Rate Card Project' committee.
Amber, with the assistance of some key NZCS committee members, contacted dozens of camera technicians and cinematographers across Aotearoa to get a snapshot of what current rates are being paid.
The Screen Guild has since published these rate cards, and it’s beginning to make a difference for all of us.
NOTE: The Rate Card is a minimum standard and a reflection on what rates are currently be paid at, not what rates should be paid at.
What are the benefits of having a rate card?
Negotiating pay as a freelancer is often tricky and as budgets get tighter technicians are frequently left feeling squeezed.
Cinematographers seldom work with other Cinematographers, so the rates we get paid are rarely discussed. You know what you get paid for a job, but may not know if your rate is good, bad or average; but not anymore!
Having a rate card empowers contractors. It enables us to be aware of industry norms and whether the rate we are being offered is reasonable in comparison.
It's also highly valuable for technicians moving up the ranks, such as from 2nd AC to 1st AC or from Cinematographer to Director of Photography, to help them navigate the transition.
Having a rate card can also help production companies understand the costs involved in a project and to budget accordingly. However, it’s important to note that rates may vary depending on the specific requirements of a project, for example on crew availability, and the rate card should only be used as a starting point for discussion rather than a fixed price list.
What if the rate I charge is lower than the rate card?
It's a difficult pill to swallow when you discover that others are being paid more than you for the same services.
A key outtake from the WIFTNZ census – which is of concern for both men and women – is that approximately 40% of women in the New Zealand screen industry and approximately 25% of men are earning less than the minimum wage, from all sources (Minimum wage 2018: $34,320; 2022: $44,096).
The ACS report 'A Wider Lens' and 'The Gender Pay Gap Report' published by WIFTNZ, have both highlighted the inequalities in fair rates across genders. More needs to be done in this area, and collaboration and transparency can make a difference.
This is your chance to reflect and make conscious efforts to address inequalities, ideally resulting in changes that benefit you.
What if the rate I charge is higher than the rate card?
Fantastic. This is the best-case scenario for any freelancer, especially if you charge a premium rate while maintaining a sustainable career.
Negotiation remains at the centre of agreed crew rates. Even when finalised, the rate card will remain as a broad guideline only.
Crew members will still be required to determine through negotiation with production where they sit within the displayed rates guidelines.
Notification of soft-release
We would like to thank everyone for their patience and ongoing support with the Rate Card Project led by The Screen Guild. This has been a highly complicated process, however we are very proud to advise that the Screen Industry Rate Card Guides for all departments are now ready for wider review.
This is a soft publish only. These cards are still a work in progress and need more cross-departmental comparison and confirmation. Until then, these cards are an unofficial guide which you may use to inform your negotiations, however please do not refer to these documents as confirmed indications of expected industry rates.
The purpose of this release is to invite feedback from the wider member group in order to refine the submitted rates so that we can ensure the correlated data is the most accurate information possible.
Each departments’ roles have been divided into the following categories:
If you feel your role has been placed within an incorrect category, please email us to advise.
Member review information and rate submissions
If you have any comments or feedback relative to your role category or a rates value entry for your specific departmental role, please get in touch with us via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are submitting information relative to a rate entry, we will require the following information to be included in your email:
NB: Changes will only be made by majority consensus.
We thank you in advance for your valuable participation.
SWIA minimum rates
The rates displayed on these cards are NOT representative of the minimum rate guide that will be required for the occupational contracts under the Screen Industry Workers Act.
Please be advised that these are living documents that have not been finalised and are for general use with the sector until wider review has been submitted. We thank all members in advance for supporting this process.
Contact: Amber Wakefield