International Instability

26Nov12

As we read the articles for this week and weeks previous, we are bombarded with the issue of precarity in the media industry. In class, we try to broaden our perspective to take into account the entire globe, rather than focusing solely on the American media industry. With this in mind, let’s look at New Zealand.

In early November, filming finished for the forth and final season of the US show “Spartacus.” This leaves the thousands of people who worked on the production jobless. In light of this, New Zealanders are hoping that the release of the first of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies will spur the New Zealand film economy and help those now unemployed to get back into the work force.

Film New Zealand’s chief executive said, “[w]e are focused, Film New Zealand is focused, along with the industry, in building scale so that there’s enough production happening at any one time so that these gaps like Spartacus is giving us at the moment hopefully disappear.”

Along with the desire to give jobs back to the filmmakers who lose them when major productions are over, the fact that a few large films are produced in New Zealand is creating another issue to deal with: an incredibly large labor pool in the New Zealand with more “artistic” aspirations. With Peter Jackson’s success, young people are enrolling in masses to film schools. These “artistic” directors can be considered independent artists, and as we know, employment is rough.

A local screenwriter and director says, “[t]he government has shown generosity toward these big films while smaller ones are left to struggle. The fact is, government funding for smaller New Zealand films hasn’t even remained the same; it has gotten smaller and smaller.” Many people are gaining valuable experience by working on Jackson’s films, but are then at a loss when taking the next step in their career by making a movie of their own. With so many aspiring filmmakers in such a small country (4.4 million people), prearity is abundant.

On a relatively unrelated note: There were lengthy talks and plans to erect a “Wellywood” sign on a prominent hill by the Wellington airport. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and home of Weta Digital, Jackson’s visual effects studio. After a massive amount of protest, the plans were thrown out. The sign was supposed to celebrate the flourishing film industry, but critics said the sign was unoriginal, tacky, and embarrassing.

-Senia

Articles:

Hopes pinned on The Hobbit to help create film jobs

A Small Country Crowded With Filmmakers

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