- Date published:
9:51 am, October 24th, 2013 - 117 comments
Categories: broadcasting, film, infrastructure, jobs, john key, overseas investment, telecommunications, tourism, trade, tv - Tags: film industry, jacinda arden, Weta
So three years on from the Hobbit dispute, and the NZ screen industry is in a precarious state. The outcome of that dispute, engineered by John Key, was to pander to the demands of the US film corporates at the expense of New Zealand workers and tax payer funding. The industry has benefited in recent years from the off-shoring of film and TV production from the dominant production centres in the US and, to a lesser extent, Europe. As such, it lacks a strong basis to enable the local industry to withstand the shocks from global competition and changing international economic circumstances.
What would it take to make a solid independent screen production industry in New Zealand? This industry includes all the digital production that is linked to film and TV production. So it incorporates gaming and other work done by the likes of Weta Digital, and productions that can be viewed online. (The VFX industry in NZ is also dependent on the more powerful centres elsewhere.)
Jacinda Ardern raised the issue of the current precarious state of the NZ film industry in the House this week, and via this press release:
“The high Kiwi dollar has put huge pressure on the screen production industry. Add to this the fact that other countries are being increasingly savvy with their rebate regimes, and the result is a screen industry that is experiencing the worst downturn in at least a decade.
“Auckland is home to roughly 70 per cent of screen production in New Zealand, and a host of small businesses who prop it up.
A lot of the hoohah around Weta, Peter Jackson and films like the Hobbit and Avatar, make it seem like Wellington is the mainstay of NZ’s screen industry. But it is long running TV series filmed in Auckland, like Xena, Hercules and more recently, Spartacus, that provide some stability in the industry. This enables the relevant businesses to develop locally that service production, from catering through transport to the specialist services like lighting and Visual effects.
While this network developed around overseas TV productions, they also provided an infrastructure available to local productions, albeit that the local companies can’t afford the costs overseas companies are willing to pay.
Unfortunately Ardern doesn’t offer any suggestions of a way out of this dependency on overseas corporates. She nods in the direction of further government subsidies or incentives, and towards the state of NZ’s economy.
Hilariously, Steven Joyce blamed the Auckland industry slump on the increased use of the railway near the West Auckland studios. This is not providing any suggestions about the way the NZ industry could be self sufficient. One possibility might be in the development of public service broadcasting via Freeview, linked with online streaming of screen productions. NZ’s democracy needs more fact and fiction produced by and for New Zealanders. Instead of the continuing importation of US, largely “neoliberal” values via our TV news, current events and entertainment, home grown productions could incorporate more values relevant to 21st century New Zealanders into local conversations.
Kiwis are capable of this, but we see it all too rarely these days: see for instance, TV 3’s Blue Rose, which was exciting, funny and socially and politically relevant. We need more of this.
One News has also picked up on the issue this week, and uses it to highlight the neeD for more taxpayer funding for Cameron’s latest Avatar movie.
There are new calls for the Government to review tax incentives for foreign productions as the industry faces losing a billion dollar blockbuster.
The industry is suffering its worst downturn ever, with thousands already out of work.
Avatar is one of the most expensive films ever made and its three sequels are expected to cost close to $1 billion.
That is money that could be coming to New Zealand if director James Cameron still films here.
The evidence of the direct contribution to NZ’s economy from such productions is weak, with the government usually pointing to how it boosts the countries economy via tourism. However, the One News article paints a dire picture of NZ’s inability to compete with other countries for Hollywood crums.
Time for a re-think, by encouraging more innovative proposals to develop a strong, resilient and independent NZ screen industry: one suited to the digital era, and that would work in conjunction with a rejuvenated public broadcasting system and online capabilities.
[Update]: Maori TV & Barry Barclay’s legacy
marty mars makes an excellent point below:
personally I’d like to see more stories from our deep heritage. The stories of the land, of the people on the land – the heroes, the sacrifices, the naming of everything – I really can’t see why people wouldn’t be into it. But I’m not thinking doco’s I’m thinking ‘crouching tiger’ – action. Forget the America’s Cup and put the money into scriptwriting with tangata whenua.
This reminds me of the work and approach of filmmaker Barry Barclay, and his legacy in the Maori TV channel. See for instance Brannavan Gnanalingam’s article on Barclay, one of NZ’s most significant film makers who coined the term “fourth cinema” in relation to indigenous film-making. While Gnanalingam is critical of the application of Barclay’s philosophy, he acknowledges Barclay’s influence on later developments, such as Maori TV.
Programmes such as Waka Huia, Marae, and the more recent developments in Māori Television owe a large debt to the impact of Barclay’s work.
Part of it is the NZ$, partly its just a lull (longterm or not we will see) in productions basing themselves here and part if it is the lack of infrastructure – our studios are basically large warehouses, not the custom designed/outfitted studios that productions can find elsewhere (coupled with more favourable exchange rates)
I don’t know if there is anything the govt can actually do to reverse the quiet time currently being felt due to offshore productions being here – incentives help but they are only part of the picture.
The one thing our govt could do that would make a huge difference is a refocus and investment in local productions and our TV and film industry coupled with a similar focus and investment in public broadcasting – we should be focusing on local productions and exporting them – a win for jobs and export earnings. I’d rather this approach than more handouts and incentives to offshore businesses who only see our country as a place to exploit
You’ve nailed it. The running down of public broadcasting over the last 30 years has deprived the NZ film industry of both a valuable training ground for actors, directors etc and an outlet for their art.
Thanks Karol, for telling peter jackson how the movie industry is run.
Just as well Steven Joyce has his finger on the pulse His analysis and final conclusion that the slump in production is due to increased train journeys is . . . umm . . . remarkable. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if this realisation of his forms the basis for his logic behind the need to create motorways which, when analysed by professionals, are found to be completely uneconomic.
We’re after a full bodied NZ film industry, not a Peter Jackson industry.
‘Full-bodied’ to everyone’s taste. Handsome and beautiful and interesting actors. Lots of bodies getting employment, and lots of bodies seeing the productions. And lots of bodies with funds for grants to encourage innovation, imagination, production, skills, sales, etc. A good term Tat.
I might have to start using it more 🙂
Bwhahahahah! ur funny!
Brett, thanks for showing how little you know about the workings of the screen industries.
But, of course, I forgot, Sir Peter is the unassailable authority on all things movie, and is above criticism. That’s if you ignore all the research and well-referenced analysis done of these industries, as for instance in the papers on the Hobbit dispute, which is linked to in my post.
Never mind, fanboi. In the world of fanfic, Sir Peter will forever be the god of the NZ movie industry.
Meanwhile, there are very experienced and talented Kiwis losing their jobs in the screen industries, and many talented young people with career hopes, seeing doors closing in front of them. And, while they do this, Kiwis keep turning to Hollywood fantasies riddled with US “neoliberal” values for their entertainment.
So Perter Jackson or yourself, I know who the movie industry worldwide will listen to.
Most of the so called ‘screen industry’ is not feature films.
Its television, and the local advertisers.
And most employment related to movies is in the screening business side, those operating and running movie theatres
Well, as BM mentions @ 10.58am below, most of the money now is in gaming.
This is why I mainly refer to “screen industry/ies”.
Cinemas are struggling to compete with the diversity of platforms for screen productions, hence the quite high prices for getting into NZ picture theatres, and the focus on big screen spectacle (3 D, VFX-driven movies like LOTR and Avatar).
Nah . . . neither Jackson nor our wonderful karol. The international movie industry will be listening to John Key when he nexts puts New Zealand’s laws and Human Rights up for sale to the highest bidder because, as John Key oftens sings to himself since becoming Pramunsta. . .
. . . as he merrily goes about his way selling the country on the cheap to his banker / movie / mining / millitary / Chinese government mates. Wattaguy. Real ashparashnul for Noozilund.
*Sigh* – power and influence does not mean someone is correct, nor that they are above criticism.
Why would you want to invest 100’s of millions of dollars making a movie and then have some one upload an illegal version on to some file sharing site so people can then download it for free.
Films are dying all the money is in games now.
The only films that will end up getting made will be 4D movies.
because 3d wasn’t enough of a gimmick?
Piracy is advertising – I can think of a couple of films that I liked so much that I actually bought a DVD. Would never have bothered with them otherwise.
Cinemas might have issues because TVs are getting large enough and with enough definition to compete with movie screens, but movies are fine.
The only issue studios face is the cyclical one they face periodically, where they’re throwing so much money at so many blockbusters each year that they’re becoming more conservative in the movies they greenlight (sequels, anyone?).
Sooner or later a dozen multi-hundred-million-dollar blockbusters are going to compete with each other in one summer. Some of those movies will flop badly, so a studio or two might collapse like UA did, and the rest will retrench and generally move into other genres for lower budgets.
Films are dying all the money is in games now.
Except when the have record year on year profits.
The summer concluded with a record $4.7 billion (NZ$6.03b) in box-office revenue despite much maligned flops like The Lone Ranger, After Earth and White House Down.
Yet that article also points to the uncertainty of the Hollywood movie business, with peaks and slums continuing.
This article shows how difficult it is for the major movie corps, with only one or two of them maintaining high profits last year. It also highlights how dependent the corproates are on gaming and TV etc to boost their profits.
The peaks and slums are the problem with our film industry being dependent on international work.
More public broadcasting would provide a stable base. What we really need to do is have NZers OWN the IP/story/characters/merchandise. That way the profits stay in NZ and the margins are higher. No cut for Warner Bros, and we are masters of our own destiny. That’s what a sustainable, successful film industry would look like. Or, if we are partners in the project (not contractors) then of course the work comes here.
The shame is that Peter Jackson/Weta are doing work-for-hire for US studios, not creating their own IP which they’re more than capable of doing.
You could have hit on a formula that NZ could work on. Make certain films that are tailored to have game potential, work hard at getting the film out there, if looking good, then build the game to go after it. Perhaps then the film will get another showing with PR from the game helping, and the game gets a boost too.
Two bites at the public interest, then DVDs too.
Nice if it worked. And everything to be done here. And we think of ways to dramatise the film premiere in different cities. Have feedback loops that carry on into other things.
What a great idea. If it could work, well that would be worth much. Who had never heard of Iceland and Finland a while back. And I listen and look at what is going on here and there is a bunch of throbbing pulsing creative ideas and enthusiasm from young people who can do lots if directed at something positive focussed on a good outcome.
I see your $4.7 billion and raise you $14.8 billion (or to be fair, 6.7bn discounting subscriptions, apps, DLC and Farmville.)
So that millions of people can enjoy it.
Life isn’t about money.
That is the most arrogant, ignorant thing I’ve heard today, firmly rooted in the notion that creative industries are somehow not labour and that the adulation should be enough. Oh yes, the wee artists and writers should all be starving away picturesquely in a garret somewhere – how romantic! Even Lady Gaga can’t eat applause.
Didn’t say anything about them not being fed, housed and clothed, having free education available to them etc etc now did I?
So people should just spend 100’s of million of dollars on a film and then just give that film away.
Oookay, riiight…. so this is how things work in Draco world?
Your screen industry wouldn’t last very long in that case
“Brett, thanks for showing how little you know about the workings of the screen industries.”
To be fair, karol, skimming a bunch of research on the internet doesn’t make you an expert either.
“But, of course, I forgot, Sir Peter is the unassailable authority on all things movie, and is above criticism. That’s if you ignore all the research and well-referenced analysis done of these industries, as for instance in the papers on the Hobbit dispute, which is linked to in my post.”
Not an unassailable authority, no, but certainly someone who has made the industry work for him. Again, there is a difference between an academic and an experiential understanding. Check your academic privilege.
“Never mind, fanboi. In the world of fanfic, Sir Peter will forever be the god of the NZ movie industry.”
His movies up to Forgotten Silver were very clever and localised. I might not like most of his Hollywood potboilers, but politics aside Lord of The Rings has earned him that kudos.
“Meanwhile, there are very experienced and talented Kiwis losing their jobs in the screen industries, and many talented young people with career hopes, seeing doors closing in front of them. And, while they do this, Kiwis keep turning to Hollywood fantasies riddled with US “neoliberal” values for their entertainment.”
The shrinking local production industry is a concern, but oversaturation is often a problem with glamour industries in small countries. Anti-populist snobbery is boring and the average NZer who just wants to be entertained does not deserve to be patronised by you or anyone else, left or right. Check your academic classist priviledge.
What is it, pop? I have a knowledge only from skimming the Internet, or I am exercising academic privilege?
What makes you think I’m anti-popular culture? I have spent a lot of time viewing and listening to “populist” culture. It’s more US-focused values I’m opposed to, and the need for a more NZ focused approach.
From your comments you have no idea of where I’m coming from or my experiences.
Try dealing with the arguments rather than ad hominems based on your fantasies about my knowledge, background and interests.
For instance, how is saying Tapert’s productions have been the back-bone of Auckland’s industry in recent years, being an anti-populist snob? how does watching programmes like some popular Aussie productions make me anti-populist?
I really only liked Heavenly Creatures of Jackson’s earlier work – watched other stuff, but never really appealed to me. And HC was more Fran Walsh’s project than Jackson’s.
“And, while they do this, Kiwis keep turning to Hollywood fantasies riddled with US “neoliberal” values for their entertainment.”
That is a deeply prejudiced statement and it oozes academic privilege. How can you say that isn’t patronising and judgmental? The whole “their lack of theory blinds them to their enslavement” angle is the academic privilige equivilent of “mansplaining” and it is offensive and elitist, and quite probably classist too.
And I fail to see how Tappert’s productions don’t come under the rubric of “Hollywood fantasies riddled with US “neoliberal” values for their entertainment” – that strikes me as shifting goalposts.
I loved all of Jackson’s early films, the do it yourself stuff and Heavenly Creatures.
Everything else, no thanks, just swashbuckling swashbucklers forever. Kudos to Jackson, but I wish he’d go back to the more inventive, creative, number eight wire type movies that made his name to start with.
This government doesn’t support public broadcasting. In reality it killed of TVNZ7 and the kids network, to support the rise
and profit of SKY TV. Funding
strangulation of RNZ. FREEView is a pathetic offering, a commercial pile of….. There is unlimited space for quality public broadcasting, as there currently is none.! Even in Australia they have a good public broadcaster. Those poor returning Kiwis to see what’s happened to poor Lil Nu Zild. Frying pan to the fire.
Oz has 2 public broadcasters, ABC and SBS. Mature and stable with fantastic content, ABC outrates Channell 10 since it’s been Murdoched.
For starters we should get some agreements with Oz’s ABC/SBS over content sharing. There’s some great local TV over there full of kiwi craft (actors, crew) much preferable to the crud from US. Upper Middle Bogan being a current example.
This can reinflate the virtually worthless Freeview by carrying the ABC/SBS digital channels and offers kiwi productions a bigger market. Sky had SBS booted off our freeview sattelite.
Smash up TVNZ into a public broadcasting TV1 and TV2 can do all the reality, cop, house challenge content to part fund TV1, insert charter and cleanout the gadflys at TVNZ.
Film’s a tougher beast, we have great locations and talent but do we want to get into a bidding war on subsidies etc in a race to the bottom. For our size and distance we do well but IMO it’s lull is partly driven by a dying TV industry as the craft has to start somewhere.
Good idea, tc. I think we could do with more SBS/ABC productions here: documentaries and dramas. Maori TV do show some Aussie TV series, with an indigenous focus.
I have also watched some of the more commercial Aussie drama series in recent years: Wentworth (with Daniel Cormack), Rush, Crownies, Homicide, etc. Kind of Hollywood genres once removed, but with an Aussie accent, local issues, and often with a bit of grit – often as good, if not better than many US mainstream TV dramas.
also checkout todays guardian with a ’10 reasons TV is better than film’ all good reasons to beef up the not so small screen.
Hmmm, thanks tc. It all looks to be about “Breaking Bad” for that writer – definite skewing towards more masculine styles of drama. Not the short of shows I watch. however, his points are good ones about long form dramas. They have been made possible by improved recording technologies and digitisation – not possible in pre-VCR days.
It has really be the asccess to TV shows online and onDVD that has increased the popularity of such series.
netflix & “Orange is the New Black” are interesting. OitNB, has a bit of grungy, low budget, alternative film making style.
personally I’d like to see more stories from our deep heritage. The stories of the land, of the people on the land – the heroes, the sacrifices, the naming of everything – I really can’t see why people wouldn’t be into it. But I’m not thinking doco’s I’m thinking ‘crouching tiger’ – action. Forget the America’s Cup and put the money into scriptwriting with tangata whenua.
Excellent idea, marty. Will update the post re- Maori TV and Barry Barclay’s legacy.
+1….tax free for NZ artists and creative arts made in NZ ( cf Ireleand?)
…plus govt funded free family passes to NZ created shows /arts ( cf Fance?)
I guess that Helen Kelly giving New Zealand a reputation for disruptive union strong arming of major film projects hasn’t helped much.
Yeah, true. John Key’s idea of reducing New Zealand to the Mexico of the South Pacific is a far better for all of us. Totally ashpahrashnul.
ook here KK
What do you mean? Was Helen Kelly the leader of that little debacle linking our industry to Australian unions? I don’t think so. Her job however is to work for better conditions for workers so she wouldn’t condemn it. But did she instigate it? Give some background from your excellent sources for those of us who have forgotten the detail.
Yes, god forbid that our actors (and crew) should have holiday pay, ACC, sick leave and the like. And that employers in the film industry be held to the same standards as other employers.
And, our screen industry wont have any problems if they actually made decent films/programmes/documentaries — kinda like what they used to do. the National Film Unit docos that you find online are quite awesome.
On watching the item covering this issue on the news last night I wondered what sort of ‘tax incentives’ are involved. What are the numbers? i.e. What are the deals being offered by the countries with ‘better deals’? This matters because I don’t know whether it is a case of film producers expecting not to pay any tax in the country they film in?
I was thinking it would be great if there was some type of move to have a ‘fair trade’ type labelling on movies. It would be nice to think that people would start supporting films that are prepared to bring in benefits to the countries that they film in. Otherwise ‘tax incentives’ becomes a race to a free-for-all like occurs in other sectors.
Good question, bl. When looking into this issue a day or 2 ago, I came across this article about the upturn in international film production in Ireland:
As well as some great out door locations, Ireland is closer to some other centres of finance and screen production in England and Europe, than is NZ.
Ireland is also one of the “I”s in “PIIGS” – which should suggest something to you.
Good to look at this karol. Our creatives are one of the few sectors that are forging new markets and products and ideas and just wonderful imagination and skill in New Zealand. They are a body of people taking us, along with our minds and understanding, into the 21st century.
There are too many others of the bovine type taking us into a Back to the Future scenario where we will go through the motions again, but end up with a worse outcome than before. That’s not the happy ending that film produced.
One important point Karol is that all of the TV series that propped up the industry in Auckland for the last 20 years, Hercules, Xena and Spartacus were all produced by Lucy Lawless and husband Rob Tapert’s company. All the eggs in one basket as it were, so that when their operation moved on or more likely the market ( small US tv networks ) changed focus to reality tv or whatever the work disappeared. Bugger.
Of course it wo’t happen to dairy !.
Indeed, Robert Tapert has provided the backbone to Auckland’s and (arguably) NZ’s TV and movie industry in recent decades. The positive side has been up-skilling of Kiwis, and international career opportunities. The downside, is, as you say, Adrian, it’s too dependent on one person – plus it doesn’t focus enough on telling stories by and for Kiwis, while, unfortunately, most of the profits still go overseas.
It looks like Tapert is now involved in a new TV series being produced in NZ, Noir. Looks like anime – remake of a Japanese series that I saw some eps for online a few years back. So it’s largely a digital creation.
And not all Tapert’s NZ productions were that successful – it takes time to create a succesful new series.
Hence,a s you say, the need for more than one major initiative.
I believe in the Tapert productions post the warners deal more and more jobs were going to people from offshore – more reason for us to think carefully as a nation about creating our own film industry (well expanding the one we have)
Add to this the Zena et al styled TV show has all but run its course
The problem is that people expect the film industry to continue the same as it was last century which it won’t. Read an article a few months back that professional CGI people are finding it hard to get work in the OECD countries because it’s easy to find capable CGI people in the so called 3rd world countries for less.
Competition is heating up and, over time, the big studios will collapse as talented amateurs start producing stuff just as good and for a millionth of the price.
Not so sure about that.
The studios don’t just have production budgets, but advertising and distribution is the other half of the equation.
Whacking another indie movie onto a website might or might not turn it into the next dramatic look squirrel, but those will be few and far between compared to a studio’s marketing and distribution budget.
There’s some ways to go but I’m sure they’ll get there.
Forget the tax incentives, just have the government fully fund it with a reasonable return from the proceeds. NZ will do far better doing that than giving even more money to foreign corporates.
We have a wonderful Natural life production company grown from a government film unit. It is still up there with world production isn’t it? Or did it get sold to some corpulent corp.? Why can’t we have a film SOE? Some seeding money and some input from time to time and the turnover of the $ from productions would help with a multiplier, ripple effect.
Some links – one to USA small business page on ripple effect
and one to a page of South Carolina Policy Council. http://www.scpolicycouncil.org/about
I thought what good thing will come out of South Carolina.
And I wasn’t disappointed – a right wing think tank. They manage to produce some findings that put down multiplier effects, quote Keynesian ec. in rather disparaging terms and profess that it’s more likely to be useless.
And their Home Page makes interesting statements. –
They aren’t a Policy Council –
We don’t design policies. We identify barriers to freedom.
The Policy Council’s purpose is to promote freedom, to protect freedom, and to prove that freedom works. In short: we want South Carolina to be the freest state in the nation…
Freedom from dependency on federal money. Well over a third of South Carolina’s state budget consists of federal money. All that money comes with strings attached. So when it comes to artifact museums and artist development and tourism marketing, South Carolina makes its own decisions.
But when it comes to educating our children and maintaining our roads and bridges, many of the key decisions are made in Washington. That can change only when state politicians learn how to say “No” to Washington’s welfare.
It’s interesting to see the case that RW makes for not having a government that works for the people and sets minimum standards for all. Seems to make the odd rational point that anyone could agree with. But it wants to close down the benefits of government and funding until it must become a tight little entity run on crony capitalism. Yammering on about choice to really poor people who are not in a position to do anything or accept what’s available.
Natural History Unit?
Still in dunners, I think, but a part of a fiendish corporation now.
Probably reduced to “ancient aliens surviving alone in the jungle” shows.
Sigh – yeah
Probably because major screen projects have all just finished.
The NZ film industry started off with a hiss and a roar making films in NZ with imported screenplays.
The thing is until the NZ film industry finds people who can write meaningful stories without delusions of grandeur and overinflated estimations of their own importance then it will always be at the mercy of forces that it cannot control.
In other words the NZ film industry is full of ruperts and rolands and full of shit.
Plenty of authors in NZ. If they’re not being found then I suggest that we have a systemic problem. Probably something to do with the makers of movies waiting for a NYT bestseller or similar.
Didn’t we have an author just win the international Man-Booker prize?
yes I got the book from the library and walked up and down the main street holding it and looking pretentious.
Shame you’re such a tall poppy cutter.
Sounds more like anti-populist snobbery than tall poppy cutting to me
Warners told their UK office years ago, get us another franchise like a Bond or we close you down. They found Harry Potter which saved them and kick started a UK industry renaissance.
It’s all about the story and if it fits the movie exec’s ‘vision’ to get the funding and as for where it gets shot, and post production occurs that’s where the big egos get to play.
PJ is PJ, one man does not an industry make but he can drag the post production back to wingnut from where ever he shoots as he’s at that big swinging donger level of the industry.
Actually the US screen writers guild is very powerful. You will note that the Tapert NZ productions didn’t secure any regular NZ screen writers, while Kiwis got a look in on most other areas of the productions.
Jackson has had enough clout to include his own screen writers, from his own close associates – but few other Kiwi writers get a look in.
Kiwis have scripted some pretty good movies and TV programmes over the years: Outrageous Fortune, Blue Rose, Boy, Whale Rider etc.
The talent is there, they just need some breaks in the face of powerful US interests.
have to disagree there K. none of those movies were worth a tin of shit and I have to think of the chilean minears dying of lung disease mining silver for these nitwits to foist their inane versions of the world on the rest of us.
Well, I’m not sure what kind of movie you’re looking for. Those movies etc had pretty good writers. There’s a load of different movies and TV series in different genres and styles been made and written by Kiwis:
Came a Hot Friday, In My Father’s Den, World’s Fastest Indian, Eagle vs Shark, Sione’s wedding, etc, etc.
And talent there waiting for an opportunity.
Hmmm the majority would seem to disagree with you.
Well apart from whirling the s..t around let’s have a look.
The dopey ham thing like Adam Sandler has been done and the USA know how to go with that style.
We need something imaginative and different – some will just catch the Cannes film festival prize but not become big public earners.
The n there is the quirky NZ
goodbye Pork Pie.? Boy?
There are interesting Moari ones and someone I think Marty Mars was saying what about it. I saw Utu the other day and it was fascinating.
There are things to show about the pakeha Maori culture clash which would be interesting and intriguing.
Then there was the poignant story I heard of the Maori from a rangatira line who married a scummy Brit and her lands became part of his marriage settlement uner Brit law, and she lost them when the bum left her and probably went gold hunting in Australia. That would be dramatic.
There are bright people falling over themselves to make stuff. In the film festivals there are collection of shorts and lots of people serve their apprenticeships on those I think.
Peter Jackson had an interesting time learning his trade from a young age.
Just don’t sneer at everything Hook. We’ll send the crocodile after you. Blanch every time you hear tick tock. And for heaven’s sake take some large spoonfuls of physic and get over the NZ disease of putting everything and everybody down if they don’t come up to your finely tuned critical faculties.
As a more celebrated NZr than you said ‘ We haven’t much money so we have to think hard.”
“You will note that the Tapert NZ productions didn’t secure any regular NZ screen writers”
That’s because with guys like Steven DeKnight on board you don’t go looking for local screen writers.
Are we turning into South Caroline? Is it too late? I read Rodney Hyde saying that the absent vote at recent local body elections should be exercised by central government.
He would say that, only because nationals local show ponies arent having much electoral sucess.
This is actually quite a simple one.
We have the skilled workforce, we have the facilities and we have the locations.
What we don’t have is a competitive rebate. Ours stands at 15% while our competitors stand at 20-32%. Studios don’t care about unskilled labour, lack of infrastructure, proximity to train lines. They care about the budget, that’s all. Bumping the rebate to 25+% would save our film industry.
The UK is booming, studio space is completely booked up. The market now is in the overflow. We can capture that.
…either that or chuck an extra $50m annually at the film commission and make some loss making (but still good) kiwi films.
Rob Tapert told me a couple of years ago that once the NZ dollar gets over 74c US (I think that was the number) then he has to start thinking about filming elsewhere as it is no longer worthwhile financially to film here.
The high dollar could be the reason Tapert’s (or Starz, can’t remember which ) Pirates TV series has been filmed in South Africa instead of here, why Hercules cancelled plans to film here and why Steven DeKnight’s new sci fi series Incursion won’t be filmed here to name a few.
I’m usually pretty hesitant with solutions which say “shift this one lever from 15% to 25% or 30% and the problem will be solved”. In the real world issues are way more complex than that, and engaging in a race to the bottom of the barrel is not the way to go. What happens when some European country decides to offer 35% to 40% rebates? We get forced to go to 45% to 50% rebates? And so on.
Basically, the way to compete budget-wise is to have capabilities that other places don’t. An example is the computing power at Weta: at one stage it was once of the top-line high performance computing facilities in the world, and about the best set up for movies.
So the studios lose money off the rebates, but gain on less production time to produce a better product.
The $50mil chucked at the film commission is also a better idea than rebates – even if only a few of the directors who get their starts from it go on to bring hollywood productions back here, it still pays off (Peter Jackson springs to mind). And it keeps the skillsets current in NZ, for another Xena/Hercules/OnceWereWarriors export.
I actually think the big success story around Jackson productions is Weta workshops – and that is based in the developments of digital technologies. This indicates to me where NZ independent, and/or niche market screen productions should be looking. ie ties in with Labour and Greens focusing on “high end” smart production in NZ generally.
Jackson has been very successful in negotiating with the Hollywood industry as a business, rather than as an “artiste”. This compares with the captain hook kind of focus above, which is more on the quality of creations and/or some sort of cultural values – ie it seems to me ch is looking for something other than either middle class and/or US Hollywood style productions.
Developments in digital technologies, along with the increased capabilities for (computer based) VFX, made it possible to produce slick Hollywood productions in NZ. It also makes it increasingly possible for the production of various kinds of screen productions by and for Kiwis, at relatively low cost: from animations and gaming to TV series and movie productions.
I think its flawed to have the primary goal to bring foreign productions here as the income stays offshore, we only get a cut of production costs – we should be looking to build up our own ability to tell compelling stories others want to see and producing it ourselves using our own talent (of which we have in abundance) – be it movies, games or whatever becomes the dominant entertainment form in the future
To constantly compete for foreign business in a world where it is a race to the bottom in incentives will only see the local industry face crisis semi regularly
Kiwi stories, kiwi made….
Almost precisely but that crisis will be ongoing.
We shouldn’t even be trying to compete to bring in the foreign corporations. We really can do it all here. We have the talent to do it.
Fuck the Hollywood productions – we’re not here to make foreign corporates richer. $500m per year funding direct from government to NZ on air to make blockbusters with the caveats:
1.) Must use NZ authors
2.) Must use NZ actors
3.) Must use NZ sound and video production studios
4.) NZ government gets a fairly large chunk of the proceeds from the sales
The government would probably end up making a profit.
“Blockbusters” would only make a profit if they move offshore – the NZ movie market is barely the size of melbourne, let alone the US.
So either way NZOA would need international production partners.
not production partners – marketing and distribution channels, which as the entertainment world increasingly moves online for such the cost and networks, (and gatekeepers of), needed to do so decrease
we can think outside of the current stagnating US centric models surely?
Nothing stopping us from distributing them worldwide.
no not at all – however at least in the short term it is better to employ or license to existing channels, companies are hungry for “content” to champion and license and creators need access to audiences – distribution partnerships deliver both with local marketing expertise -everyone wins
I notice all your business ideas will always be a roaring success, it’s like they’re guaranteed not to fail.
On a side note.
Not quite sure how much profit the government will get with your make it then give it away for free business philosophy.
bit like national’s brighter future.
Actually, I’d make the opening and ending credits have a website mentioned where people can easily make payment.
You’re a funny guy, LOL
Seen those honesty boxes and tip jars in stores that most people put money into?
Yeah, I think most people would actually pay.
Have done already, in fact. Some damned good films have been crowdfunded.
And do you know why people in the US have to live off their tips? Why, I do believe that might be something to with them not being paid properly for their work.
That fails to have anything to do with what I’ve said.
Onto it as always DTB.
Oz has effectively run a quota system for many years in terms of on air content and where foreign interests can provide the talent. It also did well from the hollywood writers strike in terms of learning from the big boys and showing US that down under had benefits.
Plenty of commercials have been pulled up for having insufficient Oz content, it generates local work, and helps grow the talent pool.
People love a local product you just need to create the right environment. Many kiwi movies/TV do well because they are made here. I’ve seen plenty on that basis.
Ooh no. Others are doing something and if we are going to do something then they will do something more and we are into paralysis by analysis so we will sit here and whine and do nothing.
He’s right though. Making tax breaks to compete with other nations to bring in foreign movie producers is just a race to the bottom and one that we need to get out of as it will make us worse off.
I’m not sure about the tax breaks thing. For example, say the total payroll for 3.5 seasons of Spartacus was 90 million NZ dollars. That’s a lot of money over just a 3 year period being paid to the crew who were made up almost entirely of Kiwis. Tax will be paid on all that plus jobs for the crew plus they spend into local economy, etc, etc.
If we said that the production company has to pay no tax at all, we still get the benefits of the series being produced here. If it is a series that is going to have a number of seasons of ongoing work then that is a huge plus. Does it matter that the government is not getting any direct tax out of the production company? The governments not really losing anything but there is a lot to gain.
I’m not saying I think that productions should pay no tax, just throwing out some info. I can’t really see how giving tax breaks makes us worse off as without the production we wouldn’t be getting tax anyway.
If we just had NZAir funding production of a series that we could sell overseas then we’d get the benefits of the production and the sales. We don’t need productions from outside NZ.
Yes because it means that some people using our infrastructure aren’t paying their fair share and so taxes will have to go up on the rest of us.
People using our infrastructure? Such as what exactly? The vast majority of people employed on Tapert’s productions are Kiwis who pay income tax here and spend money here. The few foreign people who work on the production here use our roads, but they pay petrol tax, they use our power generators but they pay power bills (massive ones at that), No doubt they have health insurance to cover any unexpected medical costs, they use our sewerage system and pay for wastewater, etc,etc. I’m not sure what you mean by using our infrastructure and not paying their fair share. How would taxes on the rest of us go up due to Tapert filming TV series here?
If by infrastructure you mean the crews, studios, etc? Without Tapert there would hardly be any experienced skilled crew and other than the studios out west, shows like spartacus were filmed in warehouses in MT Wellington which I assume were hired for a fee so hardly a drain on the taxpayer.
I’d much rather have guys like Tapert bring money here and employ thousands than other foreign investors who simply buy property and the like, employ nobody, and send all profit offshore. Even the lowest paid on the crew rung on Spartacus were paid $20 an hour plus which is a bit better than the thousands of companies who pay workers the minimum wage.
Of course there is the economic rationale that getting something is better than getting nothing. It is also the mark of desperation, of holding your hat out to passing strangers in order to get by.
Now, this is not necessarily av problem in of itself. But what’s the plan from there? What’s the plan to ensure that we only have to do this for a few years before we transition into being a much higher value provider?
If there’s no plan to climb up, why assert a position for ourselves near the bottom of the rungs?
Well, when someone like Rob Tapert comes along and spends 90 million dollars on the wage bill alone for Spartacus, just the latest in many years and years of employing thousands of Kiwis in many successful productions, all filmed here. I think hercules started filming in 1994 or thereabouts so he’s had ongoing productions filming here for nearly 20 years. There’s not that many NZ companies in any industry that have employed so many kiwis for such a sustained period. You could hardly call that the bottom rungs! He’s done more economically over a sustained long period for many ordinary kiwis than things such as America’s cup, bailed out finance companies, warner brothers, etc,etc which all received massive government funding.
I can’t believe there are people commenting here that we don’t want guys like Mr Tapert bringing productions to NZ….
I’ve got no issue whatsoever with the good Mr Tapert. But we can also see that we’ve dropped the ball as a nation – from all those years of headstart, we know find ourselves with no local industry able to sustain itself, and are now scrambling to bring in the foreign dollars again at any cost.
My question is not whether or not we welcome a future Mr Tapert. Of course. Yes we do. My question is: how do we use that as a springboard to create and sustain a local, independent, self sustaining industry?
Coz we haven’t managed it thus far.
I suspect that you fail to understand what’s actually being said. We can bring in as much production from offshore as we want but that will never translate into an actual industry. To do that we need to develop our own TV shows and movies which we then sell offshore removing the need to bring in offshore production.
The current rebate (not tax break) is 15% – effectively ‘get your GST back.’ So that absolutely is a net benefit for NZ. We’re only loosing GST that we wouldn’t have got otherwise plus the jobs and local spending and any ‘multiplier spillover effects.’
If it was raised to 25% I reckon it looks like NZ would still receive a net benefit.
First we need the 25% to be on par with others to get us onto the shortlist, THEN all our other advantages (skills, tech, locations, attitude, easily altered labour laws…) kick in.
Perhaps a slight movement in that direction in the meantime without waiting to find the better system, sort of a holding action while we wait for the market?? We may wait for ever for that I know. But with the absence of any innovative thought from NACT a raise in subsidy might give us one more movie, one more blood transfusion.
I actually agree with John Key, when he said a while back that there are more possibilities in (international) TV series here. They provide the bread and butter that keeps an industry turning over (ditto for the computer/digital game productions). It keeps people up-skilled, and helps them to maintain and update the technologies they need to keep on producing stuff.
But I also think that maybe it’s now a turning point for NZ: maybe concentrate more on local productions, plus on some co-productions with Aussie and some South East Asian countries – that includes for entertainment productions and documentaries with a reasonably popular appeal.
I believe that the Damage to our flailing Industry has been caused by Frankenstein that I see many continually overlook and never consider as one of the main reasons life is difficult in present times. And 1 devil that we know. The ‘Devil we know’ is of course our wise and caring National Govt. There’s a saying in the Film Industry “When National is in the Film Industry Suffers”, the same can’t be said about Labour. Some of us had the best run of work and consistent projects ever whilst Labour was in. But most effective and foremost is the never ending; Recession. Almost everyone I know seems to completely overlook this fact of present day life. The Recession is at the top of the list when it comes to bringing the world to its knees.
More close to home, one could assume that the merge of the Australian and NZ Actors Equity would have something to do with the lack of work for actors here. I might agree with that, if there was ongoing work for the actors to squabble over. But the fact is there are a minimal amount of films being made here and that includes off shore projects, for any actors to be hired on.
One could also assume that the decision to change tax policy (whether we liked it or not) that National made, in order to give Warner Bros a tax break at the request of PJ, so Warner Bros would come here to make the Hobbit, has had a negative effect on the Film Industry here. But I again don’t think that’s had a major effect on our film Ind, because the money wouldn’t have gone back into the Film Industry anyway. No I’ll go back to re iterating the 2 major hits that are immediately effecting us is, The Recession and the National Government……with its ignored lack of support on all levels.
Interesting observations, thanks Vanessa.
As both National and Labour have provided some incentives to off-shore productions being filmed in NZ, what sort of things does Labour do to support the industry, that aren’t usually done under Labour.
It’s not just that we are in a (temporary) recession, but that the whole direction of the global economy is changing in the long term. So I think a change in approach is needed. I think that support of NZ produced screen productions, in all their forms, might be a way forward. This includes a substantial public service TV, and the use of various kinds of digital technologies/platforms. The old, “thinking smart” rather than thinking US style/dominated BIG.
To me the difference in the economic performance of the screen industry relies not so much within tax breaks but within leadership.
I headrd Joyce on National Radio today, and he made a clear case that they had given industry players a lot of cash and tax breaks and labour reform to support the industry. It’s not everything, granted, but the deals they landed are big and lumpy.
It’s also clear in Auckland that the film studios that the old Waitkaere City Council formed and partnered up are not working much at all.
What we are missing is a layer of public sector leadership – either Mayors or Ministers – who are prepared to promote such an industry hard. The Waitakere studios and indeed the entire screen industry of Auckland prospered when we had a Mayor in Sir Bob Harvey and a PM who were prepared to tout to Hollywood and Bollywood (and China and Korea) together. Massive and long term deals continued to roll out for nearly a decade.
Central government, from the perspective of overseas film investment, has worked reasonably hard for them. Local government in Auckland, not so much.
We don’t appear to have ATEED working effectively to bring in the overseas deals either – or there would be results.
It’s a notoriously fickle and fashion-driven industry, but with our sustained international screen manufacturing profile there’s clearly something missing. In my view it’s not tax breaks primarily, but leadership that’s missing. The Mayor of Auckland appears again missing in action.
Joyce and Finlayson wasted two years conducting a Screen Sector Review to review these things, which finally reported back in July.
I also heard Joyce on Morning Report this morning, and he mentioned officials are ‘working on new ideas so we create original IP in NZ.’ He’s had two years to think about this already, and changed nothing. NZOA’s mandate is NZ stories for NZ audiences, and Film Commission are mandated to tell NZ stories (which occassionally do well overseas when they’re great stories). As far as I know there is no international audience IP development funding in NZ.
If incentives are a “race to the bottom” (Joyce’s words) when are we going to start the “race to the top” (fund riskier original IP)?
The reality is the film industry in NZ is to a lesser or greater degree, a curiosity and little more. The reality is big corporations who finance these productions go where they can make the most money. Canada has been useful for television in particular but with the global economy still in the toilet they will look for the cheapest locations possible and that does not mean NZ.
NZ is not the cheap, affordable country it used to be and that’s down to persistent screw ups and corruption by both Labour and National governments over the years. Regressive taxation is rampant, the food industry here is in real terms an oligopoly and housing prices have been artificially inflated by foreign investment.
All of this and more conspires against companies setting up shop here and staying over the longer term.
read the luminaries. You are in for a pleasant surprise. I dont usually buy award winning books but I have this one.
reader warning: contains real englush as opposed to textified street speak.
Slower than the film 12 Angry Men but same idea.
Steven Joyce hasn’t pulled in new movies and he’s wrong about the trains – see http://transportblog.co.nz/2013/10/23/steven-joyce-claims-its-the-trains-fault/
Unfortunately, we are in a perfect storm of both a decline in the TV, Advertising and Film industry. Spartacus’s ending, and not being replaced by another big budget US series has been a real blow for the industry in Auckland. This has in part being caused by the strong US dollar, which has also scared off other overseas films and overseas advert shoots. The other problem is that TV channels are only spending small amounts on money on programmes not funded by NZ on Air. Sadly, because these programmes are commissioned purely on their ability to maintain a primetime audience, the programmes are increasingly commercial and often very bland in nature. (Look at how few programmes that say anything about politics, science or are in anyway educational are made here) NZ on Air has thus had to forgo its original mandate to fund only programmes that wouldn’t normally be funded – and fund programmes that are totally commercial, even to the point of funding overseas format shows like X Factor and NZ’s Got Talent. We have also got to the absolute dire situation where NZ on Air is now expected to fund current affairs talk shows on TV1 and TV3. To me this shows a pretty strong need to have a public service channel making and showing NZ content. The elephant in the room – not mentioned here is Sky of course. They provide a very good service not doubt, but they also suck enormous amounts of money out of the public while not making any local content of note. (Not counting the hugely subversive sport jock parody Deaker on Sport). In most countries there is some requirement for the cable channels to make local content. I worked out that in 1976 rates we paid the equivalent of $360 in a broadcasting license fee per household. Today, we pay about $90 per household for NZ on Air (which pays for national radio and concert radio and some TV) and Maori TV Service. But NZ household’s are paying on average $600 per year to Sky. Are we getting the NZ television we want?
You make some excellent points here, Possum.
To me this shows a pretty strong need to have a public service channel making and showing NZ content.
Yes. That’s one strand of what is needed, coupled with funding for straight web productions and funding for innovative NZ Intellectual product. The latter can be sold to niche markets overseas at times.
In most countries there is some requirement for the cable channels to make local content.
Yes there needs to be some sort of regulation to promote/prioritise NZ-made and focused content.
Today, we pay about $90 per household for NZ on Air (which pays for national radio and concert radio and some TV) and Maori TV Service. But NZ household’s are paying on average $600 per year to Sky. Are we getting the NZ television we want?
The argument against a TV/Radio license was that people were paying it and not watching/listening to state supported stations/channels.
It is possible to draw funds by putting levies on production and/or delivery of content.
Peter Thompson reckons it would only be a small amount of dollars (I think maybe a couple of dollars per NZ household per month to fund public service TV & radio.