Stats NZ presented a late addition to the programme on new numbers it has been generating out of the sceen industry making more effort to capture the freelance nature of much of the work in the sector.
The “mythological” part of the picture was more about the lack of data collected historically than any perception, real or imagined, that the screen industry was not actually a career.
Show me the money
Mackiewicz explained. “We`re measuring the health of the industry and one way to measure that is the money – what people are earning.”
Just after SPADA began, 1994 Colmar Brunton research put the value of production at c$150 million. Over the next decade it went up as high as $572 million when LOTR was happening and down to $250 million by 2004.
Another measure is growth, which generally seems to be happening across the sector although the number of businesses peaked in 2010 and dropped off quite sharply last year across companies involved in production, post, and broadcast.
That is a measure of numbers of companies, rather than the number of people actually involved and (hopefully) earning a crust, maybe even with butter.
Measure had been limited to that of PAYE employees and were running at c6,500 but, as we all know, the government doesnt much like employees in the film industry, far preferring contractors. With the contractors included, the numbers jump to about 16,000 – the caveat being that the number includes people who might have worked for a day or two during the year as well as people who work full-time but as contractors.
As with the company numbers, the numbers of individuals involved in producing fell over the period for which data is available (2005 -2010). Not necessarily the best news to be presenting at a SPADA Conference, although the definitions weren`t always going to give a clear picture of production activity.
What is interesting to Stats NZ is the relatively static numbers over the years in the overall head count. It suggests people are moving from project to project rather than doing something and then leaving the industry.
Weighted earnings (including freelancers and employees) increased overall but, again, diminished in the area categorised as “producing”. The data is still being collected at a business rather than individual level, which is where Stats NZ hopes to move to.
Demographic data suggested a 55:45% split men to women across the industry. There was, generally, a larger number of younger people in the industry with some of the common perceptions confirmed – exhibition is largely an employer of young staff.
Jason did note, however, that with the numbers of people in the older age groups identified through the research, particuklarlky in the production sector, it was clear that the experience being gained in the industry was being retained.
The numbers will be formally published next week.