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Anderton Speech: NZ Film and TV Industry Conf

Jim Anderton to NZ Film and Television Industry Conference

Nicole Hoey (President SPADA)
Jane Wrightson (CEO SPADA)
Julie Christie
Members of the Screen Production Taskforce

Keynote speakers:
· Ruth Atkinson (US story analyst)
· Ed Solomon (writer from US)
· Mark Horowitz (distributor from US)
· Nick Drake (financing and market expert England)
· Alan Harris (financing expert)
· Sharon Menzies (financing expert)

New Zealand is a nation long known for its innovation and the talent of its people.

The tyranny of distance and lack of capital has meant we have had to do things better and smarter.

This has meant tapping into the creativity and innovation of New Zealanders.

Our people are our greatest asset.

New Zealand is a small country but we have shared the achievements of Lord Rutherford, Sir Edmund Hillary, and the late Sir Peter Blake with the world.

We have added to that list and we can now boast in film, the likes of Robin Scholes, Peter Jackson, Roger Donaldson, Lee Tamahori and Gaylene Preston, and in television, Michael Stedman, Dave Gibson, John Barnett and Julie Christie to name but a few.

This shows the world that despite, or because of, our isolation we are a dynamic, creative and innovative nation - able to compete with the best.
· Lord of the Rings (swords)

New Zealand's creative sector, which includes the screen production industry, has been one of the country's biggest success stories. The creative sector accounts for 3.1% of New Zealand's GDP, and in the last few years has grown at an impressive 8.7%, compared to 3.7% for the rest of the New Zealand economy.

John Howkins, Deputy Chairman of the British Screen Advisory Council, says in the introduction to his book "The Creative Economy - how people make money from ideas":

"Perhaps the greatest impact of the creative economy is not only within traditional creative industries but also in the way their skills and business models are being used to create value in other areas of life. The use of the imagination, the management of intellectual capital, the best way to reward creative people, the short timescales, the response to success and failure; these skills, which have only recently got on the agenda of mainstream business, are the stock in trade of the creative person."
The government now recognises screen production as a significant contributor to economic development, growth and export earnings.

The New Zealand public has seen it is possible to generate wealth and success through ideas. Most importantly, producers, directors, writers as well as technical crew have been inspired to take on new projects and broaden their horizons.

New Zealand's screen production industry is changing rapidly. In the past there were only a few companies exporting their product whereas today there is more focus on exports and global market opportunities.

This adds exciting dimensions to the skills and production bases of New Zealand companies. It also brings fresh challenges.

There's a level of ingenuity, a mixture of creativity and technological know how that is unsurpassed anywhere else in the world. That's a key message to get out to overseas groups thinking about setting up here for their next production.

We must promote the strengths and understand the issues facing the domestic screen production industry.

The government is committed to reducing barriers to growth and to helping the screen production industry chart a path to sustainable development.

The industry is dependent on two drivers to growth - creativity and business skills.

The good news is New Zealand's successes in screen production tell us that you can have both.

We have to nurture as well as celebrate our people in screen production and give them the tools they need, not only to make inspiring creations but also to develop their ideas into successful products.

The raw creative talent of the many film-makers and television programme makers has to be combined with business savvy and knowledge.

There is a strong need for industry have an economic voice which reflects its important role.

To this effect this Coalition Government has appointed the Screen Production Taskforce to work with the national economic development agency, Industry New Zealand.

The focus of the taskforce has been on ways to grow the economic potential of the industry, particularly through international business rather than Government subsidy.

New Zealand producers are active in the worldwide marketplace. They travel the world, competing with the best in their field and consistently achieve their goals. Their entrepreneurial skills enable them to grow their companies. This in turn has a flow-on effect in the rest of the industry - creating work across all areas of endeavour.

The taskforce was established in the context of the objectives of the Government's Growth and Innovation Framework which has four related goals:
· enhancing the existing innovation framework;
· developing skills and talents;
· increasing global connectedness; and,
· focusing effort for maximum impact.

This is the first time that creative industries have been given the recognition they deserve and been made a core part of economic strategy.

It's an acknowledgement from the highest levels of government that creativity - and creative people - are going to be key to achieving the growth rates we desire as a country.

The taskforce adopted the objective of doubling the foreign exchange earnings of the screen production industry from $200 million to $400 million within five years (excluding Lord of the Rings). As part of this objective, the focus is to increase the number and size of screen production houses such that there are ten production houses with a turnover of over $50 million and 20 with over $10 million in five years.

The taskforce believes these goals are well within reach. And from my experience in the sector, I also believe that the goals are achievable.

The taskforce and Industry New Zealand are working together to assist the development of the industry and enable it to improve local market performance, and to take advantage of opportunities for the global market as well.

They have identified a need to establish a much more integrated and cohesive approach between industry and government as a key catalyst for achieving these economic growth objectives.

The government set the taskforce the following development issues to address:
· Economic Goals and Development
· Industry Goals and Leadership
· Partnership with Government
· Human Resource Development
· Global Selling and Marketing
· Investment
· Development and Protection of Intellectual Property
· Entrepreneurship
· Attracting Overseas Productions

Taking up the challenge based on that framework, the taskforce has been focusing on seven key areas to foster economic development. They are:

· A business environment that facilitates the growth of existing and new businesses
· An increase in the number of television and film co-productions - both official and non-official
· Overseas productions that utilise and develop New Zealand's capability and infrastructure
· Growth of post-production digital sub sector
· A broader use of screen content and expertise in other industries
· Greater leverage of cultural heritage funding for economic growth
· New Zealand businesses that retain and exploit the rights for ancillary products and services associated with screen production

Underpinning all of these strategies is the realisation that training, upskilling and retaining skilled technicians, writers, directors and producers is essential to the health of the industry.

Our focus on growth also has to take in a strategic approach that allows us to work in partnership with overseas projects while supporting and promoting domestic initiatives. This means building up capability and access to skilled crews, capital markets and alternatives to Government funding.

Industry New Zealand has recently completed an extensive Capability Study of the Screen production industry.

The study, based on responses from an industry-wide questionnaire, has been conducted within an economic framework. It addresses commercial issues that have the potential to either hinder or help growth and it is extremely pleasing that they are being addressed with practical input from the industry.

Investment New Zealand, the country's investment promotion agency has been working on a marketing document that assesses New Zealand's competitive advantages as a desirable location for screen production.

I would like to thank the taskforce members and:
· NZ Film Commission
· NZ on Air
· Te Mangai Paho
· Training Providers
· Industry Guilds (Screen Production and Development Association - SPADA, Screen Directors Guild of New Zealand - SDGNZ, Writers Guild, Women in Film and Television, International Television Association, Nga Aha Whakaari, New Zealand Film and Video Technicians Guild)
· Public Sector Agencies - Inland Revenue Department, Ministry of Economic Development, and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.
· Bank of New Zealand
· J B Were (investment bank) and
· the Government's Venture Investment fund representatives.

All have engaged with the taskforce and shared their immense knowledge, ideas and most importantly their time with us to ensure the industry maintains its dynamism and vitality.

The success of creative industries like screen production are essential for the long-term growth of all New Zealand. Despite our isolation we are a dynamic, creative and innovative nation - able to stand out and receive critical acclaim with the best in the world.

We have a lot going for us.

Tabled at a recent taskforce meeting was a letter to the taskforce from the New Zealand Film and Video Technicians Guild saying how impressed overseas producers were with their Kiwi ingenuity. The producers said they would come back again for future productions - and they meant it.

Creative industries are an immense catalyst for positive change across all sectors. The benefits, cannot however, just be measured in terms of dollars and cents. Creative industries, such as film and screen production prove to the world - and to us here in New Zealand, that we are a creative, dynamic nation.

I look forward to the taskforce recommendations being presented to the government and progress being made in this important industry.

I wish you well for the rest of the Conference.

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