Historically the experimental film community has suffered from stuttering institutional support.
Alternative Cinema, an Auckland film-makers’ co-operative (1972–86), offered a workspace, equipment, a magazine and collegial engagement. A smaller film-makers’ co-operative was set up in Christchurch in 1973.
Creative New Zealand (which provides government funding for the arts) funded The Moving Image Centre in Auckland (1993–2011). The centre offered staff, space and public programming for ‘the promotion of creative media arts’.1
Various government funding schemes for independent film-making came and went.
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
The New Zealand Film Archive, which became part of Ngā Taonga in 2014, holds copies of most of New Zealand's experimental films, but in 2014 many of those works remained uncatalogued. Many existed only as primary material, awaiting preservation and duplication within their original film medium and transfer to contemporary digital formats that would make them more available for research or study.
Lack of support
A lack of institutional support meant that over the years many film-makers ceased to produce films, overwhelmed by cost, lack of screening opportunities and lack of critical response. Others, like Alex Monteith, decided to work predominantly in video. Some film-makers were supported by galleries.
Those who worked in art schools, universities or polytechnics got time and financial support, as their film work counted as research. Others, such as Martin Rumsby and Gabriel White, continued to work alone or in close co-operatives, operating on small budgets.
Some film-makers have expanded their practice, working across multiple screens, mixed media, or making work that can be experienced by the casual visitor at any point in a looped presentation.
A comprehensive history of New Zealand experimental film is yet to be written.
In 2012 CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand was set up by Creative New Zealand. It was dedicated to distribution of works, research and professional artist development.
An experimental film future?
The term ‘experimental film’ suggests techniques and materials forged in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 2014 it was debateable whether the term was still relevant; many experimental film-makers had emerged from the context of contemporary art, often moving between film and digital platforms, or combining the moving image with object-based installation in physical spaces.