A high powered board

June 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Steven Joyce and Chris Finlayson have announced:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson today announced the formation of the Screen Advisory Board.

The Screen Advisory Board, announced by the Government in December 2013, will help the New Zealand screen sector create the skills and connections to be able to generate their own intellectual property, compete internationally and attract overseas finance.

The six-member Board will also assist the New Zealand Film Commission, Film New Zealand, and the New Zealand screen sector to market and promote the New Zealand screen industry overseas.

Sounds good. So who got appointed:

  • James Cameron is an Academy Award-winning Canadian film director, producer, screenwriter and editor who has directed the two biggest box office films of all timeTitanic and Avatar.
  • Jon Landau is an American film producer. He is best known for producing Titanic, a film which won him an Academy Award, and most recently, Avatar.
  • Sir Peter Jackson is an Academy Award-winning New Zealand film director, producer and screenwriter.  He is best known as the director, producer and screenwriter of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003) and its prequel The Hobbit trilogy (2012–2014).
  • Fran Walsh is an Academy Award-winning New Zealand screenwriter, film producer and lyricist.  She is best known for her work as producer and screenwriter on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.
  • Andrew Adamson is a New Zealand film director, producer and screenwriter based mainly in Los Angeles. His animation films, Shrek and Shrek 2, received an Academy Award nomination. He was director, executive producer, and scriptwriter for C. S. Lewis’The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
  • Jane Campion is an Academy Award-winning New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director. She is the second of four women ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and is also the first female filmmaker in history to receive the Palme d’Or, which she received in 1993 for directing The Piano, for which she also won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

That’s almost ridiculously high powered. Great to have those six giving up their time for free, to help market and promote the NZ screen industry overseas.

Three more Avatar films to be made in NZ

December 16th, 2013 at 12:18 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The next three Avatar films will be made in New Zealand, the Prime Minister has announced at a press conference with the film’s director James Cameron.

Mr Key announced this morning that the Government had signed a memorandum of understanding with the film’s makers to secure the multi-film deal.

He said investment would be “significant” – a minimum of $500 million for the three films.

Great news.

I await however Labour and the unions condemning the memorandum of understanding as crony capitalism.

20th Century Fox Hanneman said an undertaking of the scope of Avatar required a significant collaboration between the film industry and Government.

“New Zealand offers unparalleled support to films of this scale.”

Changes to the screen productive incentives will mean Avatar is likely to benefit from a 25 per cent rebate.

Changes to the incentives for both overseas and local film makers include raising the rebates from 15 per cent to 20 per cent – and those which provided extra benefits to New Zealand would get extra ‘points’ entitling them to an extra 5 per cent on top of that.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said he expected the Avatar films to meet that top 25 per cent rebate – the deal includes marketing of New Zealand and substantial local employment.

The Avatar agreement includes committing to a long term relationship with 20th Century Fox, spending at least $500 million on production in New Zealand, including most of the live action shooting and visual effects.

It also commits the film’s makers to ensuring at least 90 per cent of the live action crew are New Zealanders and New Zealand will host at least one of the three premieres.

The Wellington red carpet has never been used so much!

Mr Cameron said he was expecting the films to be released in Christmas 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Again, great news for the thousands of people who work in the screen industry.

Cameron committing to NZ long term is strategically important also as it reduces our reliance on Peter Jackson.

Hollywood on NZ

January 27th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

David Fisher in the Herald reported:

Avatar producer says the Prime Minister’s visit to Los Angeles helped the film industry put a face to the country’s pro-film initiatives and was one of the reasons he will be back to make the sequels. …

“It’s not just two old film-makers,” said Landau, recalling the October dinner with Prime Minister John Key. It included some of Hollywood’s most influential players from major studios including Disney and Warner Bros at “chairman level”.

“People in Hollywood were able to see there is a face behind government, a face behind initiatives. We’ve all gone to countries where things get muddled in bureaucracy.

“He was very personable. He spoke about the big picture of New Zealand, and not just about the film industry, and the role the film industry could play in that.”

“It really spoke to the studio heads and said New Zealand is a country which is committed to making production work. The evening went extremely well from a Hollywood standpoint.”

And the impact on NZ:

It is a section of the community which, according to the briefing given to Mr Key before his trip, helps contribute $3 billion revenue to the economy. While the figures appear to include everything from television broadcasting to cinema works, the briefing said the area attracting the biggest grants and most publicity – screen production and post-production – grew from $313 million (0.25 per cent of GDP) in 2005 to $638 million (0.47 per cent of GDP) in 2011.

And that is excluding any tourism benefits.

Landau said those working in the industry were the driving force for him and Cameron to return to New Zealand for two sequels to Avatar.

While scenery and incentives were often cited as the greatest inducement, with Mr Key highlighting a “workforce which is not heavily unionised”, Landau has a simpler explanation.

“We didn’t come here for the location. We came here because of the industry and the support it gets from the Government. Avatar – we didn’t film on location at all. We’re coming back to New Zealand to film Avatar [2&3] because of the people.”

He said there was an excellence which, for example, was reflected in work done by Sir Peter Jackson’s Weta studio. He urged a visit, saying “you owe it to yourself” to see cutting-edge, high-quality work. “They’re continually advancing everything here.”

I’ve heard this from a lot of people, that the NZ way of doing things is a major attraction.

Landau said the growth was to the benefit of the communities in which the films were made. “The spending is so diverse. When a film comes to New Zealand, they might hire 200 local crew. But they might also put up 100 people at local hotels. Those people have to go out and eat.

“People on the production have to go and use the local stationery store. They have to go buy lumber to build with. They have to bring in a caterer on the set. It goes on and on and on.

“This isn’t just someone coming in making widgets and the spending only goes to widgets. The economic impact of a film on a community is quite significant.”

He rejected claims of low wages. “When we came here, we looked for the best of the best.”

He rattled through names of those he had met and hired, listing those outside Wellington brought in to work on Avatar. He also rejected concerns about youth workers being vulnerable.

“We’re not looking to find the youth but for those who might be out there doing that, and to those who are criticising it – the youth are your future.

“If those people don’t have the opportunity today, they will never have the opportunity in the future.”

Almost all destroyed by an Australian union that only represented a few dozen New Zealanders.