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Speaker: Levelling the Playing Field

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  • Kumara Republic,

    And there's a growing group of viewers that still aren't that well catered for: "cord cutters". And I happen to be one of them.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Humans are social creatures and we have a deep and abiding need to gather in public or semi-public places, to experience ...

    Very true. But films/cinema are not the only social gathering and I can think of a lot more social activities than sitting in rows in the dark staring at a screen. I suspect we will find other ways to be social.

    And head's down looking at screens?? I was thinking more along the lines of lying on the couch with a glass of wine and my "eyes" switched over to media. Or even with all my senses switched over to media instead of just eyes and ears. Technology can mean dramatic changes not just slightly better little screens.

    But in the immediate future I strongly suspect the experience from glasses and earbuds in 20 years will make any HD look quaint. What then for cinemas? Surely then they must become genuinely social spaces where humans can interact with each other rather than sitting quietly trying not to disturb (or not).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Jonathan King,

    Sure have--72 times so far this year (I keep records). You are probably thinking of the multiplex experience, which is generic wherever you go. I am thinking more of the independent/art house experience.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Most multiplex screens still require you to sit in rows; many art house/independent cinema offer a different experience. Visit the Waiheke Cinema, for example, which offers a large auditorium filled with sofas (donated by residents); or Matakana which is extraordinary sumptuous; or the Roxy in Wellington, which echoes the Civic in Auckland etc. Or Cinema Paradiso in Wanaka, which has an interval, for patrons to chow down on in-house baking,
    The thing is that such cinemas offer very attractive add-ons to just going to a film. I recently visited the Dome Cinema in Gisborne, which is housed in the old Poverty Bay Club (the ceiling features three c18th glass domes). Patrons sit on the original horse-hair sofas or designer bean-bags. The adjacent bar is something special.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Campbell Walker, in reply to Jonathan King,

    Maybe really seeing how these markets have changed might be a good way to understand how to produce them? Right now the ‘way to produce things’ seems strongly linked to how markets used to work … And people are just willing it to go back to how it was … or demanding laws are changed (labour laws, copyright laws) to squeeze things back into the shape they were?

    I've been thinking about - nearly responded a couple times - while i've been battling to review the new Hobbit, to find a way to talk about the problems i have with it in 800 words, which are very much to do with this. I mean, I see the application of market logic ahead of what i would (deliberately naively perhaps) describe as the craft approach to making films, leads to work like the Hobbit, where the rolling together of cinema of spectacle, gaming and what I'd characterise as "internet content" leads to the destruction of what is important about each of them.

    From this, I also would say that to me the film showed that allowing the lines between them to dissolve is somewhat catastrophic, because it's a piece of amorphous screen content with no identity beyond its branding.

    Secondly there is no element of national cinema present - except perhaps in a negative sense through the co-option of landscape that is then distorted by digital cinema techniques designed to render it a no-space, which then exploits our national identity as part of a marketing plan, thus "national cinema" becomes the cinema that our nation is branded with, with no choice in the matter - but is also the most highly subsidised film possible.

    Further if we use the model i think you're suggesting, it becomes destructive towards innovation: we are only following trends, and only those at the top of the financing foodchain are able to dictate changes, and they retain the ability to buy any new changes they want, because we have created audiences that do crave innovation, arguably for both better and worse.

    For a small player like NZ, this is very destructive of our ability to produce content of our own choice. To work in this way involves competing in a game where we lack the clout to win or even survive, even if only because all the bigger players rig the game. I think this is what we are seeing: the crisis of the craven, you could call it, perhaps.

    I also think nobody is in a position to "understand this industry", as Bart puts it, but there's a few people around who are in a position to dictate the terms of it. Not to say researching these things is not important and valuable - but I think our filmmaking would be better if filmmakers were allowed to make films more, instead of being required to second guess market trends.

    I think - even though I would say i don't personally think cinema's primary quality is that its "larger than life", as Geoff puts it, it is something close to that: a social space where we are attentive and the projection is out of our control as audience members, but where we have a sense of private and bodily connection. This has little in common as an effect with internet delivered content, or with gaming, or even with home cinema. Similarly, Geoff, your evident pleasure at going to cinemas is something that is very heartening to a producer of something i still think of as such - but it really does illustrate that putting all these elements under a convenient catchall will result in poor analysis, and poor screen content, no matter how much it has become part of our contemporary discourse.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2013 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Smashproof launch app alongside their music.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    many art house/independent cinema offer a different experience

    Yeah I can see that happening more. If technology makes the actual experience of the content better for an individual, then cinemas as gathering places must become much more, or simply different.

    But in the same way that music shifted from a radio broadcast experience to an individual consumer experience I think cinema content will adapt. Sure some cinemas will adapt to become places where folks gather to experience the content together. But equally because individuals will be able to consume content at the same or better quality solo, in any location, then producers of that content will also adapt. Film makers will market to individuals, world wide, directly. No distributors required, just the internet. Surely that must change the type of content.

    To try and swing this back to the original topic, in a market like that does it make more sense to direct funds to large scale cinema that tries to fill that legacy market or is it better to fund smaller, perhaps more locally focused art. Could money be directed into exactly the kind of content that is distributed via the internet. At the moment that's short webfilms. Should the career path of a new artist be always to make and participate the big cinema?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Despite it being multiplex, I enjoyed Gold Class as something a bit different. Massive armchair with footrest, side table, and staff serving you food and drinks throughout. They make money on the food and drinks so it's a pretty sound model.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan King, in reply to Campbell Walker,

    Further if we use the model i think you’re suggesting, it becomes destructive towards innovation: we are only following trends ...

    For a small player like NZ, this is very destructive of our ability to produce content of our own choice. To work in this way involves competing in a game where we lack the clout to win or even survive, even if only because all the bigger players rig the game. I think this is what we are seeing: the crisis of the craven, you could call it, perhaps.

    I'm not sure if you understand what it is I'm suggesting (partly cos I haven't necessarily suggested it yet).

    But basically I'm in the 'no-one gives a fuck, so we may as well make whatever we like' camp. NOT 'the market loves The Hobbit we should try and make that' camp.

    Since Sep 2010 • 185 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    FYI the subsidy is being increased and some pigs are more equal than other pigs

    Sounds like electioneering rather than a strategy to me...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Campbell Walker, in reply to Jonathan King,

    Indeed, if anyone was uncertain about their position, today would provide some kind of... clarity? Business as usual, including misleading noises. I especially liked two clauses in the agreement:

    a featurette on New Zealand being included in DVDs and Blu Rays.

    and

    An offer by James Cameron and Jon Landau to serve as founding members of a new screen advisory board, which will provide advice and guidance to New Zealand screen and film makers looking to succeed internationally.

    So, not just exploitation, but also paternalism!

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2013 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Campbell Walker,

    So, not just exploitation, but also paternalism!

    Or it might actually of substantial benefit to some young film-makers who wish to take their work to the world.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    cinemas as gathering places must become much more, or simply different.

    As in The Kentucky Fried Movie ?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • Campbell Walker, in reply to Russell Brown,

    well, ok, i'm maybe a little snarky ahead of schedule, but i'm not sure how this increased focus on marketing work will help in terms of developing NZ content. I notice the Govt line on NZ content has shifted largely aware from culture being the determinant of NZ-ness, and is considering it almost solely in terms of IP This doesn't make better NZ films, it cripples better NZ filmmakers into learning how to make Hollywood films (or other parts of the commercial screen sector, yes), or going into the deep underground like i did. It feels like the bone being thrown to local filmmakers, (rather than film industry workers, who can feel a little relief not available to people in many other industries).

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2013 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Campbell Walker,

    i’m not sure how this increased focus on marketing work will help in terms of developing NZ content.

    Seems a reasonable line to me. In fact, I’d take a punt the ‘screen advisory board’ will not help anyone much do anything.
    Maybe NZ can cement a place as the makers of (relatively) cheap block-busters for the world audience. Maybe we have a Cameron or another Jackson or two waiting in the wings. But how much would you bet on it?

    edit: this is a cynical view, to be sure. and perhaps reflects my lack of interest in block-buster films, more than any alternative ideas of where nz cinema could go. but yeah: cameron and landau are hardly the first dudes you’d pick as promoters of kiwi culture.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Campbell Walker,

    This doesn’t make better NZ films, it cripples better NZ filmmakers into learning how to make Hollywood films (or other parts of the commercial screen sector, yes), or going into the deep underground like i did.

    With all due and sincere respect, Campbell, perhaps you are being pre-emptively dismissive. Maybe, just maybe, it does actually help make better NZ films – and films that are seen – if every new generation (whether “mainstream” or cinematic fucking Wombles) doesn’t end up having to start from ground zero every damn time. It’s never easy getting a film seen, but do we have to make it any harder?

    but yeah: cameron and landau are hardly the first dudes you’d pick as promoters of kiwi culture.

    OK, fine. How about making Bill Gosden a better offer, because he seems to have built up some non-"blockbuster" networks over his years running the New Zealand International Film Festival that might be useful to Kiwi film-makers.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I’d pick Bill in a moment.
    Though I’d have to check- still might have that contract out on him from back in the 80s, when it was apparent he had the world’s best job, and wasn’t going to give it up :)
    (Not entirely relevant anecdote: visited Bill in Wellington in 1985 when I was on the Chch Film Soc committee. He was not keen on Chch audiences; we often didn't get all the weird and wonderful that went to other centres, which rankled some of us. While there I listened to a conversation between him and Frank Stark, about this crazy guy making a low-grade splatter out at Makara, and trying get Arts Council funding. Stark was especially dismissive ... but Bad Taste turned out pretty well in the end :))

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Campbell Walker, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Fair points there, but I would argue that this approach does make it harder to produce and distribute films, than the approach of distributing that money amongst a lot more filmmakers, and starting the building of smaller niches where we can function without betting the farm on one big project where the leeching off of money is so heavily built in. An alternate strategy of spending that subsidy provision on directly financing a lot of smaller films and paying to market them to wherever they need to as part of that financing - which can, would need to, include very specific cross-platforming - would see a lot more development of craft skills, better chances for advancement among crews, leave a lot of room to innovate and avoid top down models that work to crush culture.
    As it is everyone starts from zero in some way. The ways in which we don't start from zero - as Jonathan points out - can be as damaging as the ways we do! What we'd learn from Cameron and Landau might be very interesting, but they exist in such different systems, and their approaches are unlikely to be sustainable in our system, except for maybe one filmmaker. And we already have our One Filmmaker, right?

    Bill? Actually the Film Festival has suffered as much as anyone from changes in cinema. I'd love for them to be able to play a much wider array of films and look less to the purse as well, but they've had to follow a different model. The support I received early in my career from Bill would be unlikely to be extended now, as the Festival have been at pains to point out.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2013 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Richard Brody of the NYer on the distinctiveness of cinema- and his pick of the year's best.
    How many of them have been shown here? How would one begin to get hold of them?

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    the distinctiveness of cinema

    his snooty auteurism is so original.
    #pfft

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Sacha,

    the distinctiveness of cinema

    snooty auteurism is so original. pfft

    Snootyness is in good supply, anyway :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Campbell Walker,

    starting the building of smaller niches where we can function without betting the farm on one big project

    Doesn't have to be zero-sum. Encourage more funding of the smaller projects as well. May need to change the government to get that, but start the lobbying now.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Rob; in his list of 1-29, the ones I know of to have a NZ release are:
    To the Wonder
    Upstream Color
    A Touch of Sin
    The Bling Ring
    Nebraska. (Saw a preview last week--a cracker of a film)
    Blue Jasmine

    I guess others are on their way, I am particularly waiting on Inside Llewyn Davies, the latest Coen Brothers film.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Thanks Geoff- will definitely try to catch Nebraska and keep an eye open for the others (did get to Blue Jasmine.)
    The question of distribution again. I’d love to be able to buy some of these films online. Watched Patu last night- meant to just watch half, as it was late, but ended up watching til the end. It’s a taonga, that film :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Chaz Harris, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'd rather be paternalised by the most commercially successful filmmaker in the world than some locals who don't have that kind of track record.

    It's now going to be up to NZ to capitalise on that advisory board, add more major players to it and then have a funding system for commercial IP tied to it. Once we do that, we are poised to make a big impact - and I personally know of at least 2-3 filmmakers I would invest my own money in backing and consider them potential PJs.

    NZ has a whole generation of filmmakers spawned from the Peter Jackson effect...best we listen to them and give them our backing before we lose them altogether!

    Wellington • Since Oct 2010 • 6 posts Report Reply

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