The Film Commission must have feared the worst when it learned Sir Peter Jackson was to assess whether it was working "in the most effective way possible as New Zealand's film-funding agency". The country's most successful director and producer has been a strong critic of the commission's decision-making. Given his stature, it would also be hard for the Government to ignore his findings. Now the report of Sir Peter and Australian academic David Court is out and, unsurprisingly, it recommends a substantial shake-up.

The pair paint a picture of a "them and us" culture, with the commission being an extremely demanding negotiator. The upshot of its approach is a producer-led industry that diminishes the role of directors and writers and pays too little heed to fostering talent, especially that of young film-makers. Further, says the report, the commission board, which decides on funding requests, has too few members in touch with film-making. Sir Peter's solution is to place decision-making power in the hands of commission staff, thereby restricting the board to policy and review work.

Clearly, there will be much support for these conclusions in the film-making community. Many must nurse a similar wishlist. Many will also have felt jilted by the commission because of the rejection of one or other of their submissions. That, however, is the nature of the commission's work. There will never be enough money to go around and tough decisions must be taken. Overall, the commission appears to have done a reasonably good job during its three decades.

Film-makers must also remember that they are the recipients of taxpayer funding. This should not be dispensed lightly. The presence of board members with business acumen is an attempt to ensure the right degree of spending scrutiny. Others on the board should, for their part, be able to evaluate a screenplay or production budget. If negotiations for funding are tough, that is how it should be. There should, indeed, be a measure of "them and us". It is important, of course, that this never involves an aloofness or loss of mutual respect, as some film-makers say has happened.

Sir Peter's plan for commission staff to be empowered to decide on funding requests is a logical development only if there is no prospect of a balanced board. Commendably, he notes that the staff would have to be accountable "on some level". What that would be is not clearly explained. This, with a suggestion that the commission should relax its commercial imperatives, especially for first features, smacks of a yearning for a world in which creativity would hold centre-stage and the careful use of taxpayer money would be a secondary consideration.

As ideal as this may be for film-makers, it seems a step away from the real world.

Sir Peter's own story suggests the approach taken by the commission has many positives. He notes that early in his career, it provided crucial support that helped him complete his early movies, resulting in his transition from making very low-budget films to independently financed, larger-budget movies. That, in itself, suggests the commission has been successful in fostering young film-makers. Talent has been recognised.

Equally, the growth of New Zealand film-making into a significant business during the commission's time suggests it has been doing many things right. It cannot be said to have been a barrier to film-makers' aspirations.

As ever, there will be some frustrated by its decisions and complaints about an aversion to risk-taking. But the model may not be as broken as Sir Peter says. A minor rewriting of the script, rather than a major overhaul, seems the logical way forward.