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New Zealand film-makers discuss a rosy future

15 November 2004

New Zealand film-makers discuss a rosy future

Leading film and television makers will meet up in Auckland this week for the screen industry’s premier event, the SPADA conference “Small Country Big Picture”.

The three day event, starting on November 18, will be held at the Hyatt Regency, with over 30 international and New Zealand speakers giving their views on the future of the industry.

One of the main themes of the conference is to explore ways in which the local industry can continue to capitalize on the success of NZ films internationally.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Whale Rider and, more recently, In My Father’s Den have opened up many opportunities worldwide which should not be lost, says SPADA chief executive Penelope Borland.

“The New Zealand screen industry’s gone through a rapid evolution, and the past year has been amazing in terms of international recognition – a real ‘annus mirabilis’ which has given us an extraordinarily high profile. This conference will be the first time we can focus collectively on ensuring we stay up there,” says Borland.
Expansion in the New Zealand television environment, which is the backbone of the NZ screen industry, also heralds bright prospects for local production and a new future for the industry.

“The television landscape is changing rapidly. This has been the year of bedding in the Charter, lots of changes at TVNZ, new programmers on all networks, including TV3, and Maori Television Service and Prime coming into the market for local production.

“There’s a lot to celebrate, but we’re also taking a good look at what’s going on right now in all parts of the industry – the issues, the synergies and the potential.”

Borland says international investment is 100% necessary for the NZ screen industrynow if itwants to compete internationally, and the only way to attract overseas money is to create strong international ties and relationships.

“Our industry is working at a global level from home base. We’ve proved we have the technical facilities, expertise, infrastructure and great ideas, and we need to make sure the industry keeps humming and working at this pace. We’re going to take a look at the impact on our local industry of large-scale on-shore and off-shore international productions with King Kong, River Queen, Paravel, and The World’s Fastest Indian shooting at the moment, and Perfect Creature in post-production.

“It’s a hugely competitive business and while the doors are open to New Zealanders, we need to be putting the best propositions forward and the best ideas.”

A number of key international speakers have been invited to discuss global distribution and marketing, as well as the all-important strategies for attracting overseas investment.

Among them are husband and wife team Kathryn Tucker and John Sloss – she produced the BAFTA award-winning The Station Agent, and he is executive producer of Before Sunset – both independent movies that are currently screening here and have earned substantial international acclaim.

Others speaking are Ashley Luke of Fortissimo Films, one of the world’s largest arthouse sales agents, Tracey Josephs, head of production at FilmFour, the prolific and successful film division of UK broadcaster Channel 4 (Touching the Void and The Motorcycle Diaries); Victoria Treole, of Miramax Australasia and New Zealander Tim White, formerly of Working Title (Ned Kelly), and now developing Toa Fraser’s Number Two, with finance from Working Title, Miramax and the New Zealand Film Commission.

The conference is also going to look at the opportunities for the New Zealand industry to make television programmes for the global cable market and will be hearing from Canada’s Alliance Atlantis’ head of programming Norm Bolen and ex-Discovery Channel’s Jennifer Batty.

Headliners for the local industry are John Barnett of South Pacific Pictures (Whale Rider, Shortland Street) SPADA president Dave Gibson (Insiders Guide to Happiness and The Strip) Gaylene Preston, Prime’s Andrew Shaw and Elizabeth Mitchell and Oscar Kightley, creators of TV3’s hugely successful bro’Town.

Programmers from all the television networks will discuss local production, and both Hon Jim Anderton, Minister of Economic Development, and Hon Steve Maharey, Minister of Broadcasting will be there to discuss Government’s plans for investing in local content on television and growth of the screen industry.

SPADA (Screen Production and Development Association) has also introduced some new initiatives to the conference. An inaugural SPADA Independent Producer of the Year Award (supported by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise) will be announced at the TVNZ Black Tie Dinner on November 19, and producers will have the opportunity of pitching their ideas in front of the industry at the Pitching Competition.

Borland also says that small ‘round table’ sessions will allow all film and television makers to have longer quality time with key speakers to discuss ideas in depth.

ENDS


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