Jonathan King And Jason Stutter Comment On THE HOBBIT Deal.
From Jonathan King:
Speaking as someone who has never worked for Peter Jackson or any other Hollywood film shot here -- and remains unlikely to -- but who has benefited hugely both from the indirect attention his work has brought our part of the world as well as benefiting directly from generosity and support from Sir Peter's Weta Workshop, his Stone Street Studios and his post production facility Park Road Post I am relieved the films are still going to made here. My principal relief is for the hundreds of film technicians who've been hanging on through a couple of grim years with white knuckles, desperate for this film to give them some steady employment. Had it gone -- had Peter Jackson not been able to get a film made here -- then I think it was very likely that all international production would be finished here.
Like I suspect many Canadian film makers probably feel, I don't actually think those international productions are necessarily an unqualified good for our industry. It makes crew unaffordable, it makes facilities, at times, hard to get into. It grossly distorts what is 'our' industry with what is in fact a service branch of somebody else's. This is really just postponing the inevitable day when Hollywood films do stop coming here; there isn't the work to sustain a fraction of these people. While it's great for employing large numbers of people when monster films like The Hobbit are made here, they are part of the Hollywood machine that's bulldozing all independent and small-industry films beneath them, and it comes at a time when the NZ industry is finding it harder than ever to keep its own head above water.
As to the labour law change: I think this is an acceptable compromise (the government didn't offer anything like the double tax rebates the studio would have loved to have had). What this does is clarify, for the film industry specifically, the difference between an employee and a contractor -- something, I think, most local producers would be happy to have happen anyway. It basically means you can't work for several months or more as a contractor -- getting the associated tax etc benefits -- and then claim at the end you were actually an employee, and would like holiday and sick pay now. Other industries like real estate and, er, sharemilking (!) already have this clarification. A creepy right wing government sneaking in a bit of legislation that suits them in a moment of populist hysteria? Very possibly!
But this was all precipitated by an equal or greater attack on our sovereignty: an aggressive action by an Australian-based union taken in the name of a number of our local actors, backed by the international acting unions (but not supported by a majority of NZ film workers), targeting The Hobbit, but with a view to establishing a 'standard' contract across our whole industry. While the actors' ambitions may be reasonable (though I'm not convinced they are in our tiny market and in these times of an embattled film business), the tactic of trying to leverage an attack on this huge production at its most precarious point to gain advantage over an entire industry was grotesquely cynical and heavy-handed, and, as I say, driven out of Australia. Imagine SAG dictating to Canadian producers how they may or may not make Canadian films!Anyway -- the film going ahead will make a huge difference to many lives in the business here. The changes to the labour laws really not so much. Discussions about actors' 'needs' are ongoing.
From Jason Stutter:
Sir Peter Jackson has worked hard and risked all to realise his dream of creating a world class film industry in his home town. I can't imagine how terrible it has been for him to see misguided union bulling attempt to destroy years of hard work. As a film maker working in Wellington I know how much love he has for the local industry, it's clearly evident by the money he invests in resources here. Local film makers all benefit from the infrastructure he has built and the New Zealand economy gets a huge boost from these large budget films. I'm thrilled by the outcome for him and the Hobbit crew.