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Export Success Of Local Television Series Formula

12 August 2002
Industry New Zealand Applauds Export Success Of Local Television Series Formula

Auckland company Livingstone Productions’ success in selling a popular local television format overseas shows that New Zealand-made television shows can foot it in international markets, Industry New Zealand General Manager Northern Region, Lance Wickman, says.

Livingstone Productions, producers of Queer Nation, the long-running TV2 series based on the lives, activities and issues of New Zealand's gay, lesbian and associated communities, has landed a contract to produce a similar series for a North American cable network, the world’s only gay and lesbian channel airing 24-hours-a-day seven days a week.

Canadian gay and lesbian cable television channel Pridevision has purchased the 13-part series, The G-Factor, hosted by Auckland actor Stephen Laing, which is halfway through production. The series is being made for a male, gay North American audience and uses stories from the Queer Nation archives.

Mr Wickman says Livingstone Productions’ success shows there is a huge export potential for New Zealand's screen production industry in niche television markets.

“The advent of cable television channels worldwide targeted at niche audiences, such as the gay community, fishing enthusiasts, hockey fans, bookworms and businesspeople,” he says. “The growth in niche channels has led to an increasing demand for quality niche programmes.”

“The G-Factor contract has given Livingstone Productions an opportunity to expand its business offshore and will help the company achieve its long-term vision to become a significant international provider of niche market television programmes.”

In order to compete on the international stage New Zealand’s screen production industry needs to have a unique product that fits into a niche market and Livingstone Productions has met both requirements, he says.

Before branching out overseas, Livingstone Productions already enjoyed local success. “We have a six-year history of creating gay TV,” says John Givins producer of The G-Factor and Queer Nation.series.

“We know what works and we know what doesn't. We know what our audience wants.” In translating this local success on to the global stage, however, Livingstone needed to draw on outside expertise.

This is where Industry New Zealand came to the party; assisting Livingstone Productions with reorienting its focus from local production to making programmes for the international market. The G-Factor pilot series is the first concrete result of this collaboration between Livingstone Production and Industry New Zealand.

“We are thrilled that this unique channel in Canada will be showing our New Zealand gay world to a new audience”, says Mr Givins. ”The channel was impressed by the high production values and great storytelling displayed by our New Zealand team.”

Industry New Zealand has supported the company through a $50,000 matched funds Business Growth Fund grant that helped Livingstone Productions prepare a strategic plan to make its products marketable internationally and a promotional film to show to potential international buyers.

Mr Wickman says Industry NZ also provided strategic business advice analysing Livingstone Productions’ future direction and pinpointing ways to extend the commercial success of a New Zealand concept and television series into an overseas formula.

Mr Givins maintains that such collaborations are more than about just logistically competing in a new market, "It’s about relationships with people, your success is our success,” he says.

“They are a business like any other, they are trying to develop markets and capability so we helped the company do this.”


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