Gordon Campbell on subsidising the film industry
By Gordon Campbell July 4
So, here we are again in 2018… and this past fortnight has seen a fresh round of mutterings that the production grants that currently underpin the New Zealand film industry are a sin against market purity that we can do, and should do, without. Besides, the subsidies can be made to look not all that rewarding, provided you tweak the economic models hard enough.
It isn’t hard to spot the aspirational goal involved. On market principle, shouldn’t New Zealand go cold turkey, axe the film subsidies on offer to Hollywood studios and see what happens next? Even if, on the available evidence, what would happen next would be a smoking crater where our film industry used to be? That wouldn’t make a lot of sense, given that we simultaneously say we’re trying to foster a modern, IP-driven, value-added digital economy. For the past decade, the film industry has been one of the few success stories along that path. No doubt, scrapping the film subsidies would create a level playing field for everyone. Problem being, that field would be somewhat barren. Hey, but at least we’d finally know exactly what the elusive ‘opportunity cost’ of having the New Zealand Screen Production Grant would be