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Q+A: Tim Watkin interviews James Cameron

Sunday October 7, 2012

Tim Watkin interviews James Cameron

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE and one hour later on TV ONE plus 1.

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Q + A – October 7, 2012

Hollywood Director

Interviewed by Tim Watkin
(Edited interview)

TIM How did the dinner with the studio heads go and what did they want?

MR CAMERON [John Key] basically circulated around to the different tables and had private discussions— Not private, but I wasn’t privy to every discussion. You know, there were discussions of possible increases in infrastructure, stage space, you know, the idea of possibly altering the rebate scheme to keep pace with the change in the dollar.

TIM Does that just mean more money?

MR CAMERON I suspect so, and I wasn’t party to a specific discussion on that. I know the issue was raised. It was even suggested by Sir Peter Jackson in a pre-taped message to the group.

TIM So what was John Key’s pitch to them?

MR CAMERON He said that New Zealand certainly doesn’t have the highest incentive scheme in the world, but it is very competitive. And he felt that with a lot of the other factors – such as the English language, kind of the work ethic and skill of the crew, the resources that are available within the country, the locations, you have a core competence in terms of visual effects, the artisanry of set construction and so on – that all of those things add up to a very attractive full package.

TIM We’ve already changed laws to keep The Hobbit. Are we conceding too much to Hollywood?

MR CAMERON What Peter has done, and those that have followed in his footsteps, especially in Wellington – such as ourselves with Avatar – what's been created there is a global industry that’s competing directly with what's happening in Los Angeles or London. And I think if some accommodations need to be made to foster that, I think the benefits to the New Zealand economy will far outweigh, you know, any potential deficit.

TIM Kim Dotcom – what is Hollywood’s perspective on him and on illegal downloading?

MR CAMERON I think to the extent that the guy is guilty of fostering illegal downloads of movie content, I’d be against that, obviously. I mean, the guy’s probably dirty. I don’t think he’s a saint. The music business was eviscerated by illegal downloads, and it’s never recovered. Not that there aren’t still plenty of artists out there who can create music. But movies are different. Movies aren’t three guys in a garage with a couple of guitars. Movies require, you know, hundreds if not thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars to create the calibre of imagery that we expect to see. If the movie business takes a hit in revenues that’s equivalent to what happened in the music industry, you’ll never see that again. I think it’s not inappropriate for a government to protect major foreign investments. If you think of the film industry not as something frivolous but as a major industry, and I think the term is correct – it creates jobs, it brings capital and so on – then it would be like anything else. It would be like someone who was potentially undermining let’s say the agricultural industry, which is obviously near and dear to the heart of the New Zealand economy.


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