Rich of Observations your last statement is laughable. I’m a screen industry contractor who would rather jump off the bridge than line up on the dole line- which I won’t. This is actually detrimental to the cause. If I did, along with every other film contractor out of work- the Government would have some data to chew on. They don’t because the analysis hasn’t been done. Comparison to car manufacturing- ridiculous.
Tom Semmens: say a film production has ten custard squares to spend on tax. Ireland and South Africa among others (in fact anywhere succeeding in the world custard square economy) are offering 2-3 custard squares back NZ only offers 1.5 custard squares. They would be mad to go to NZ wouldn’t they? It’s just basic custard square economics. So sadly NZ misses out on 7-8 custard squares, no- not just 7-8 because there are many others. Its patently ludicrous to complain about having to pay some custard squares as though they are already in the Government cake display.
This discussion on the value of rebates to the Government and Tax Payer is based on an assumption: that some or most of the productions will come here regardless of whether they are increased or not. It would be pretty hard for the Government and the Tax Payer to stomach paying more of a rebate to say Avatar for instance, if they were only bluffing about going elsewhere. Whatever is the case for Avatar- as others have mentioned: Wellington based production accounts for less than half of the total market. There are currently no large productions in Auckland. There is nothing big on the horizon (typically industry insider will hear of upcoming large productions up to 18 months before they commence). We have yet to see whether or not Avatar is bluffing but the fact is no productions are coming to Auckland indefinitely. Spartacus finished filming in October last year and Power Rangers finished in June this year (Power Rangers have moved to South Africa). So with zero foreign productions coming here the Government and the Tax payer get nothing- raising the incentive (which should be REBATE) will bring them back- but even if it didn't what is the loss for the tax payer by raising the incentive? What I'm hearing from the Government is that we should not try and be competitive because the market is too tough. The large Budget Screen Production Grant (incentive) is a rebate for money spent in NZ- not an amount paid to entice a production here prior to production.
In relation to jobs; the Government and independent Analysts are under the assumption that loss of income from a foreign production should be measured by the difference between that and a local one. This is tragically flawed and completely ignores the reality of the market. This formula is also applied on an individual level. Take myself for example; an experienced (over ten years full time) contractor with specialist equipment and vehicles. I have worked and will work on most types of screen production (local/international: features, tv commercials, tv drama, music videos, short films) throughout each year. Working on higher earners (tv commercials and foreign productions) enables me to work on local music videos and short films (where I might not even cover my costs ) and to some degree local drama- where I would earn a lot less. I have been able to increase my experience and capital though these larger productions. So if I don't get to work on a large production for part of each year do I automatically move to local production, hey I'm earning less but I'm still earning! No, I don't. Firstly there is not enough local productions to accommodate me and all my equivalents, secondly the earnings would not be enough to sustain me and could not come close to covering the cost of my equipment, not to mention that I will be effectively taking a job from a less experienced contractor (perhaps one not long out of film school). This is the situation I find myself in now. Perhaps I will leave the screen industry altogether, find a job- so I will take some one else's job? Or start my own business? It's a tough choice to make- because if I leave the industry I will sell my gear and I won't come back, it would be foolish to start again from scratch. I believe my circumstance is indicative of the industry as a whole.
Apologies for the rant but it's beyond frustrating. We find ourselves at this juncture- having been described as a watershed moment, it is. With that in mind where is Film New Zealand? The body whose job it is to bring foreign productions here, we have had no comment from them at all and indeed do they know that business they advocate for is mostly based far north of Wellington and Peter Jackson.
I agree with all that the Minister that the development of long term strategies to make the screen industry more sustainable (less reliant on foreign production) is an undeniably good thing- but this should not be used as a reason to let the industry slide into terminal decline. Ask the Minister what his time frame for this IP development is! He doesn't know- it's just a theory at this stage. We should be looking to enable the industry to compete internationally and transitioning it into a more sustainable model, not decimating it in neglectful ignorance.