September 22, 2018

Kiwi film studios booked 'chocka' by Hollywood and US streaming giants

The cinematic home of Middle-earth is alive with the hustle and ambition of Hollywood film crews, as Kiwi studios enjoy their busiest period since the heady days of Peter Jackson's Tolkien epics.

After a lull in the post-Lord Of The Rings heyday of the noughties, New Zealand film studios are beset by American streaming platforms and silver screen production companies.....

July 05, 2018

Want to scrap Hollywood tax breaks? Fine, but RIP to our local film industry

By Rajneel Singh  The Spinoff 4 July

Want New Zealand to continue to keep making good local film and TV? Then it’s time to get over rebates and subsidies for big Hollywood productions, writes film industry professional Rajneel Singh.

People who have known me over the years know that I’ve never exactly lived the Hollywood lifestyle.

I am single, I still live in a flat with four other people, I have no dependents and still, year after year, my friends have heard me talk about my dealings with WINZ or joke about living near or, in some years, below the poverty line. That is despite the decade-and-a-bit that I have worked full-time in the film, television, corporate and web-video industry. No, I do not work on big-budget international productions, but I still somehow make ends meet as a solo person hovering around that definition of “not particularly well-off”......

July 05, 2018

Show biz is big business for Auckland

By Glenn McConnell Stuff Entertainment 30 June

Is owning and helping to run a film studio, and drumming up international customers for it, really core business for a council? ....

Once you get past the glamour factor of having famous actors working on Auckland's doorstep, and big budget films that say "made in NZ' on the end credits, is it really what ratepayers should be supporting? 

The answer, from Stats NZ figures, is a great big block busting "yes". Revenue from screen production and post production in Auckland last year passed the billion dollar mark for the first time ($1.109b). The region accounts for about 60 percent of the industry's income nation-wide. Feature film revenue alone was $490 million - about 43 percent of the nation's total - but it's television production where Auckland produces the lion's share - 84 percent, or $420m.  Most of the country's TV commercials are also made in the city, bringing in another $121m.

July 05, 2018

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

July 05, 2018

Deborah Hill Cone: Arts should never be underestimated

By Deborah Hill Cone NZ Herald, 2 July 2018

"Wellywood's $575 million bill – and you paid it" was the Weekend Herald's catchy headline. Subtext: you dumb muppets are funding a bunch of arty-luvvies. Rise up.

When I first read it I responded as invited. Sheesh, Alvin and the Chipmunks? That ghastly Scarlett Johansson movie where she wore a nude bodysuit and pretended to be Japanese? Couldn't we spend that money on hot soup and warm anoraks for decile 1 schools?

And yet, like most things, it can look a little different when not "in the hot, crispy, pan-fried moment in which events are momentous" (I nicked that from science fiction writer Bruce Sterling)....

June 30, 2018

Govt warning: Without multi-million dollar Hollywood subsidies, film work will dry up

Without multi-million dollar subsidies, Government-commissioned analysts warn the New Zealand film industry may crumble.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, three reviews of subsidies given to film makers - local and international - have concluded that it's hard to know just how much New Zealand benefits from the multi-million dollar grants. 

Economic Development Minister David Parker says the sweeteners, which have helped the production of films such as Sir Peter Jackson's Hobbittrilogy, Ghost in the Shell and others, should be capped, although all three reports warn that without the subsidies, the New Zealand film industry as it is won't be sustainable.

To date, the taxpayer has given more than $550 million to film companies since 2010, ranging from huge Hollywood studios to local movie makers....