The NZ Film and Video Technicians’ Guild applauds Government for following the lead of other countries with strong screen industries and forming a Screen Advisory Board. But the Guild fears the voice of smaller screen industry players is missed in the Board’s high-profile advisory panel of six that includes Sir Peter Jackson and James Cameron.
Over the past 20 years, international TV shows and movie of the week/HBO style productions shot here have provided core continuity of work and opportunities to upskill local talent. Industry “skill and development” were flagged as key points by Minister of Economic Development Steven Joyce during 2014 discussions around increasing incentives to attract international productions to New Zealand.
The Guild’s executive committee spokesperson Brendon Durey says while big budget feature films are a critical element in the industry, television shows and small to medium-sized budget productions play an equally important role.
“Smaller-scale productions provide workflow, maintain critical mass of skill and infrastructure and help keep New Zealand top of mind for international producers,” Durey says.
It is critical to the industry, he says, that the Screen Advisory Board seeks input and advice from producers of longer running shows. Bringing over $400 million worth of offshore productions into New Zealand including TV shows Spartacus, Xena and Hercules, Rob Tapert is an example of a respected producer who represents ongoing shows.
“Tapert’s productions have been core to growing the technical skill base of the country’s film sector, helping to take it from a cottage industry to international standing.”
Longer term shows enable local technicians, actors, directors and cinematographers to step into roles they likely would have been overlooked for on larger international features. Many key New Zealand film industry department heads and crew have gained career and skill development on Tapert’s shows, becoming highly sought after both here and overseas.
Disney productions like Power Rangers have also helped with workflow and skill development, alongside features produced by Tim Coddington such as Mr Pip and Bridge to Terabithia. Valuable staff training is gained on these jobs and crew are able to provide a high level of professional experience when large international features roll into town.
“The continuants of productions year in year out, allows technicians to stay on the cutting edge of technology in the fast moving landscape of the film industry.”
As New Zealand’s only representative of film and television technicians, the Guild wants film industry development to be sustainable. Durey urges the Screen Advisory Board to place a significant focus on a wider spread of smaller productions rather than just big budget one-off productions.
“To create a sustainable industry, New Zealand needs regular work for those in the engine room of our industry and as has been seen recently when there is no regular work, crew will leave the industry or go offshore,” Durey says.
“The Guild’s executive committee represents the coalface of the industry and ask that Government Ministers consider the likes of Rob Tapert and Tim Coddington as key advisors. Both are valuable industry people who can bring insight outside the blockbuster film domain.”