1 Kagazshura

New Zealand Film Industry Essays

This volume contains twenty in-depth studies of prominent New Zealand directors, producers, actors, and cinematographers. New Zealand Filmmakers outlines and examines three major constituent groups who are responsible for the industry as it appears today: those involved in pioneering film in New Zealand, those associated with the New Wave of the 1970s and 1980s, and those post–mid-1980s visionaries and fantasists who have produced striking individual productions. A comprehensive introduction situates the New Zealand film industry in cultural, historical, and ideological contexts.

The book displays the diversity of filmmaking in New Zealand and highlights the specific industrial, aesthetic, and cultural concerns that have created a film culture of international significance. With the majority of the contributions in the book containing analysis developed through dialogue with the filmmakers, New Zealand Filmmakers is an authoritative study of the film industry in New Zealand. Each essay also includes a thorough and definitive filmography, detailing the full nature of the work produced by each individual, with key titles highlighted.

Filmmakers covered in this volume include Barry Barclay, David Blyth, Jane Campion, Roger Donaldson, Rudall Hayward, Peter Jackson, John Laing, Bruno Lawrence, Len Lye, Alison Maclean, Merata Mita, Ian Mune, Geoff Murphy, Leon Narbey, John O’Shea, Gaylene Preston, John Reid, Vincent Ward, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, and Peter Wells. This collection is illustrated with 50 film prints, many of which have never before been published. With the New Zealand film industry poised to become a center of film production and already a major topic of critical interest, this volume will find many interested readers among film scholars and educators.

Getting to Wellywood: national branding and the globalisation of the New Zealand film industry.


Prime ministers (Powers and duties)
Motion picture industry (Forecasts and trends)
Motion pictures, New Zealand (Government finance)


Lawn, Jennifer
Beatty, Bronwyn


Name: Post Script Publisher: Post Script, Inc. Audience: General; Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business; Business, international Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2005 Post Script, Inc. ISSN: 0277-9897


Date: Winter-Summer, 2005 Source Volume: 24 Source Issue: 2-3


Event Code: 010 Forecasts, trends, outlooks; 900 Government expenditures; 290 Public affairs Computer Subject: Market trend/market analysis


Product Code: 7800000 Motion Pictures NAICS Code: 5121 Motion Picture and Video Industries SIC Code: 7800 MOTION PICTURES


Named Person: Clark, Helen


Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Name: New Zealand; New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand

Accession Number:


Full Text:

Addressing the Innovation Conference in Christchurch on 7 March 2002, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark outlined her government's ambitions for the nation's economic development:

For a quick grasp of the commercial principles driving the government's vision and its implications for the New Zealand film industry, consider the network of assumptions and associations cohering in the Prime Minister's statement. In neo-liberal fashion, a competitive business model is offered as the paradigm for other spheres of activity, both collective and individual: the country best flourishes when run like a company that carefully cultivates and manages its brand image as its best asset. For, as Peter van Ham approvingly notes in the context of international polity,

As CEO of New Zealand Inc., Clark favours a particular umbrella strategy known as integrated branding. This differs from the thinner concept of brand image in its reach and penetration of all elements of organisational management. Under the integrated branding principle, "all actions and messages are based on the value the company brings to its line of business" (LePla and Parker 2). As Clark recognises, this strategy requires "consistent" behaviour and vision. The national brand should be "supported, reinforced and enriched by every act of communication between the country and the rest of the world" (Anholt 11, italics in original). It demands a high degree of consensus regarding the central values maintained by "all our industry sectors." The government spans public and private interests: reduced to "arbiter ... [of] the repatriation or export of the designs and commodities of difference" (Appadurai 307), the government brokers contracts between New Zealand agencies and transnational capital, leading to such curious spectacles as the Prime Minister appearing on America's The Today Show and talkback radio to promote New Zealand as a safe tourist destination ("I'm Helen, Fly Me," in Philip Matthews' witty title). Creenagh Lodge, whose company Corporate Edge engineered New Zealand's "Orchard of the South Pacific" campaign in Europe, further elaborates that "sophisticated markets increasingly want evidence that there is a mind behind the brand and its offer: a collective and conscious force which can be relied upon to keep the promise set out by the brand" (384). It is thus not sufficient for New Zealand to appear "clean and green" by nature, as the "100% Pure" campaign launched in 1999 suggests (Morgan, Pritchard, and Piggott); the national brand should also communicate human intelligence, identified by Clark as innovation, technological capability, and creativity.

For our present purposes in this paper, Clark's vision of a symbiosis between the creative industries and other business sectors commands particular attention. Essentially, the New Zealand film industry is envisaged as an instrument of cross-sectoral economic development. Clark upholds The Lord of the Rings production team as role models in the emergent "creative economy" that, following Tony Blair's "Cool Britannia" lead, is integrating with the "knowledge economy" as New Zealand's unifying national aspiration. (1) The film trilogy's American financing and almost exclusively foreign acting talent are elided in Clark's representation, as will be discussed in more detail below. New Zealand companies are encouraged to leverage off the mainstream film industry's global reach by associating their products with The Lord of the Rings. After all, in terms of international recognition, "Brand Jackson" is far bigger than "Brand New Zealand," given that The Lord of the Rings trilogy screened in dozens of countries and grossed approximately $NZ4.6 billion ($US2.9 billion), comparing favourably with New Zealand's total foreign exchange earned from tourism of $NZ4.2 billion in 2000 (New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2). (2) The smart business strategist knows that marketing agencies not only create brands but also increasingly rely on international brands as their transactional medium. As Stan Sutter notes, paraphrasing Coca-Cola Company COO Steve Heyer: "A brand icon like Coke, with its global distribution clout, media buys and near ubiquitous consumer presence, is actually a more powerful media network than the ones offered by most, if not all, media companies" (Sutter 18). In a similar manner, by linking The Lord of the Rings with the America's Cup Clark's policy statement validates film for its qualities as spectacle and event, to which other foreign exchange-earning events can be linked. Examples of such "leveraged" initiatives include Ian Brodie's Lord of the Rings Location Book (2002), now in its second edition but restricted by Tolkien estate copyright to sale in Australia and New Zealand only; the staging of the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King premiere in Wellington on I December 2003; the mushrooming of fantasy tourism operators such as Red Carpet Tours, Extreme Green Rafting and Hobbiton Tours, offering adventures within the Lord of the Rings landscape; (3) the publication of maps identifying New Zealand as Home of Middle-Earth; Tourism New Zealand's launch of a Lord of the Rings-themed advertising campaign; and the government's designation of cabinet minister Pete Hodgson as "Minister of the Rings" and its $4.5 million contribution to the Return of the King premiere.

The New Zealand government's recent "discovery" of the screen production industry thus owes more to dawning awareness of cross-sectoral economic opportunities than to strictly aesthetic, protectionist, or cultural nationalist concerns. Indeed, governments led by Clark have given mixed messages to the industry. In 1999 the Labour-Alliance coalition rescinded the tax incentives that had financed one third of The Lord of the Rings production costs in New Zealand. In May 2000 the same administration announced a cultural recovery package of $87 million, including funding of $22 million over seven years for commercially viable feature film production that includes significant New Zealand content and attracts about 40% matching funding from external sources (New Zealand Film Production Fund Trust). As of May 2005, the films financed and delivered under this scheme are Niki Caro's Whale Rider (2002), Gaylene Preston's Perfect Strangers (2003), Vincent Ward's River Queen (2005), Roger Donaldson's The World's Fastest Indian (2005), and Glenn Standring's Perfect Creature (2006). By 2002 the Labour-United Future coalition appeared to signal the twilight of state-supported screen production, with the Minister for Industry and Regional Development indicating his wishes to "turn this cycle of dependency [on cultural subsidies] into sustainable, independent growth which will showcase New Zealand talent and creativity internationally, while growing new and existing businesses domestically" (Minister's Foreword, Taking on the World). However, in an apparent policy about-turn following intensive lobbying--by Peter Jackson, the Screen Production Industry Taskforce chaired by Julie Christie, and other New Zealand-based directors and producers--the government announced a new large budget screen production grant scheme on 30 June 2003. Any company spending $15 to $50 million on production within New Zealand (where that amount equates to at least 70% of the total production expenditure) receives a 12.5% rebate upon completion of the project, from a maximum grant pool of $40 million in the first year. Top-up funding to the New Zealand Film Commission of $10 million annually was announced on 10 November 2004, in part to cover the costs of administering the scheme. Although New Zealand production companies are not excluded from the grants scheme, budget constraints mean that few solely New Zealand productions are likely to qualify. The domain of independent film-making, meanwhile, remains in the hands of the New Zealand Film Commission, which retains a legislative mandate to promote films with a significant New Zealand content and has expressed some reservations about commercially-driven screen production policy (see New Zealand Film Commission, Taskforce Report: NZFC Response).

In this paper we unravel and evaluate the implications of the government's branding drive for the New Zealand film industry, with particular regard to its linkages with tourism and urban economic development. The government seeks to kick-start a cycle of economic growth: global entertainment productions are enticed to this country, in turn serving as the vehicle for leveraged, worldwide promotion of New Zealand's natural and technological capital, in turn attracting further foreign investment. However, in retrospect Clark's reference to the America's Cup defence was unfortunate, as Team New Zealand's hopes literally crashed in the spectacular snapping of its mast in race four, leading to a 5-0 drubbing by Alinghi, a Swiss conglomerate. Does the government's most recent screen production funding gambit stand a better chance of success? As a case study, we describe one specific implementation of the economic policy outlined above: Wellington City's self-promotion as New Zealand's "creative capital" within intense national and international competition for investment in the lucrative global entertainment industries. As noted in a strategy paper for the arts commissioned by the government in 2000, "more than any other city in New Zealand, Wellington has demonstrated how to use strategic positioning to add value to existing cultural assets and deliver economic, social, and cultural benefits to the community" (Heart of the Nation 42). "Adding value" here means integrating New Zealand cultural production and regional economic development with the full machinery of the global entertainment structure: merchandising, marketing, tourism, leisure, education, and events. The economic risks of Wellington's creative entrepreneurship have drawn comment in New Zealand's media, and we will canvass the key positions in this debate, drawing on international comparisons where possible. Finally, we argue that the current branding-driven, export-oriented cultural policies open New Zealand to further economic and cultural globalisation. Transnational interests will increasingly shape the New Zealand screen production industry, reducing national and local governments to the role of managers of brand difference. We suggest, speculatively, that collective, "integrated" identities in New Zealand will become increasingly indistinguishable from the commercial imperative when, as Finlay Macdonald has commented, "the studio backlot becomes an entire country" (4).


The scale of the Lord of the Rings production based in Wellington is unprecedented in New Zealand film history. With an estimated production budget of $600 million, it was easily the most expensive production filmed in New Zealand. Up to 15,000 extras were used (Grant 26) and digital effects innovations included 3D scanning of the principal characters and their characteristic kinetic movements, and the development of the Massive software for staging mass fight scenes. At one point in the production, Jackson's Weta Workshop was the largest special effects unit in the world. The Lord of the Rings exhibition at Te Papa Tongarewa The Museum of New Zealand attracted 200,000 visitors and has toured London, Boston, Sydney and Singapore ("Exhibition Excitement"). Expenditure by the production company in New Zealand to March 2002 has been estimated as high as $352.7 million (although, as we discuss below, this figure is disputed). As director Peter Jackson laconically anticipated during preproduction, "I guess the Miramar dairy [convenience store] Owners are going to be selling more pies at lunchtime" (quoted in Grant 27).

The location of Weta Workshop in Miramar, an eastern suburb of Wellington City, reflects Jackson's professional commitment to the city where he was born and where he shot his first film on super-8, The Dwarf Patrol (1971). Jackson's coup in winning the production for the city led to a new nickname for the country's capital as "Wellywood." With its wobbling alliteration on "w," this affectionate portmanteau of "Wellington" and "Hollywood" suggests a local appropriation of a global brand. On the one hand, Wellywood suggests that New Zealand, too, can aim for the big production and marketing budgets, international mass audiences, and star-making machinery of Los Angeles. At the same time, like its fellow neologisms Bollywood (the Bombay film industry) and "Nakiwood" (the probably short-lived moniker for New Zealand's Taranaki as location for Tom Cruise's star vehicle The Last Samurai, shot in 2003), Wellywood implies that local idiosyncracies might still be maintained in servicing the global entertainment market from a New Zealand base. Indeed, the parodic humour of an image circulating on the internet, showing the giant letters "Wellywood" illuminating the city at dusk from the surrounding precipitous hills, relies on just such a conjunction of local aspiration, awareness of relative existence, and cheeky relocation of the iconic Hollywood sign.

Several years prior to the Lord of the Rings explosion, Wellington had already anticipated a programme of urban repositioning to entice cultural production to the city with its tagline "Absolutely Positively Wellington" marketed from the mid-1990s onwards. Although cushioned by its immediate proximity to government--public service activity accounts for nearly 50% of Wellington's gross domestic product (Hansen, "The Edge" 62)--the city's economy has suffered a steady bleeding of corporate activity offshore and northwards, most recently the head office relocation of dairy cooperative giant Fonterra to Auckland (Wellington City Council 36). Like other deindustrialised cities of the West, Wellington now seeks to develop new markets in services, including communications, marketing, entertainment, and tourism--sectors which share an interest in the consumption of images and so are often grouped under the label of postmodernism (Page and Hall 31-32). To lure foreign-owned industry back, cities have engaged in what Don Sherman Grant and Richard Hutchison term "smokestack chasing," a set of supply-side initiatives including debt financing programmes, geographically targetted policies, labour market deregulation, and regressive tax incentives. We suggest that the more appropriate term for comparable inducements in the postmodern city should be "star gazing": the scramble to attract "creative entrepreneurs" able to raise investment finance and carve out niche markets in the global media-entertainment complex.

While manufacturing moves offshore in pursuit of cheap labour and economies of scale, and New Zealand's bulk commodity export sales rely on delicately negotiated entry into the protectionist markets of the European Union and the United States, the global entertainment market beckons with impressive growth figures. UNESCO estimates that international trade in cultural goods increased from $US47.8 billion in 1980 to $US213.7 billion in 1998, with the United States importing $US60 billion in 1998 (UNESCO v, vii). John Hannigan notes that in the United Kingdom annual expenditure on leisure activities rose by 50% between 1992 and 1997 so that "by the end of the 1990s, British consumers spent more on leisure and tourism than on food, rent, and local taxes put together" (Hannigan, "Global" 20-21). In the United States, the percentage of household spending on entertainment (5.4%) ranks ahead of clothing (5.2%) and health care (5.2%) (20). Back home, the cultural sector's proportion of New Zealand's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose each year from 1992-1996 to an estimated 2.8 per cent in 1996 (Government Spending on Culture 9). At 16.3 per cent, growth in the creative industries from 1994-1999 outstripped growth in the general New Zealand economy over the same period at 11.2 per cent (Heart of the Nation 9). Although Wellington has fewer cultural sector employees than more populous Auckland, this number is greater as a proportion of full-time equivalent positions in Wellington, and the proportion of cultural sector workers is growing in both centres (Heart of the Nation 13).

The Wellywood brand was thus recommended to the Wellington City Council in 1999 by Vantage Consulting, which advised that "Wellington needed to strengthen its film production infrastructure, which was fragile compared with those of overseas film centres" ("Blumsky'). Brand Wellington's central proposition projects an urbane lifestyle: middle-class, cultured, aspiring to the intellectual, left-leaning, and centered around the cafe, the art gallery, the studio, and the urban village. Wellington's promotional strategy emerges from, and reflects, its relatively high average income and its homogeneous demographic, given that "81 per cent of Wellington City's 164,000 residents are European [in ethnic origin], compared to 66 per cent in Auckland City" (Hansen, "Edge" 65). The brand tagline "creative capital" puns neatly on "capital" as surplus wealth put toward the creation of further wealth. This analogy between financial and symbolic wealth is developed in George R. Barker's monograph Cultural Capital and Policy (2002), and as Gregory A. Waller notes, the phrase has become a key term in the New Zealand Film Commission's 20012004 Strategic Plan and other policy statements (Waller, forthcoming). Agencies rich in "cultural capital" display particular skill in "produc[ing] and sell[ing] meaning" (Lawrence and Phillips 431); that is, monitoring, responding to, and preferably leading communities of style, taste, and fashion. As product selection expresses lifestyle choice in late capitalism, such symbolic value attaches to an increasing range of goods and services, and innovators in the creative industries become regarded as models to be emulated by other sectors of the economy (440).

With its urban chic, Wellington is relatively rich in cultural capital but poor in financial capital compared to other cities in competition for the global entertainment dollar. As Glen Searle and Michael Bounds note, populous State capitals such as Sydney and Melbourne are able to raise funds to bankroll capital-intensive, large-scale events (Searle and Bounds 165-72), including the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, for which Wellington had initially bid. Nor can New Zealand cities command the capital injections flowing into the European Union's [EU] featured cities, such as Liverpool, confirmed in June 2003 as the EU's culture capital for 2008 and the United Kingdom's second most favoured film production location after London.

Wellington's competitive advantage relies, instead, on realising the ideal conditions for the demographic grouping that Richard Florida has termed the creative class (Florida). Members of this class lead enterprises in technology, entertainment, finance, high-end manufacturing, and the arts and are estimated to make up 38% of Wellington's working population (Wellington City Council 13). In matters of urban design they favour heritage districts, established neighbourhoods, community diversity, a strong gay presence, and "street-level culture--a teeming blend of cafes, sidewalk musicians, and small galleries and bistros" rather than generic shopping malls (Hansen, "The Edge" 64). Creative City shares the aggressive branding, theming, and modularisable entertainment of the urban development that Hannigan terms Fantasy City (Hannigan Fantasy City; Page and Hall 44-45). However, it does not undertake the latter's "Manhattanization" of the cityscape through the construction of large entertainment complexes, spectator venues, and "tourist bubbles" that risk alienating inner city residents (Hannigan, "Global" 32). Instead, Creative City manufactures and manipulates the globally transportable space of virtual reality: after all, it is not necessary to live in New York when that city can be "recreate[d] in a paddock," as Peter Jackson has done in his 2005 King Kong remake made in New Zealand (Manson).

Brand Wellington implements Clark's integrated brand model at the regional level through its tourism and business development agencies, Positively Wellington Tourism (formerly Totally Wellington) and Positively Wellington Business, and city council publications which continually drip-feed press releases, such as the announcement of the new Creative Achievers Programme worth $200,000 in 2003/2004 ("Our Plan for Wellington"). Brand Wellington gives coherence to cluster industry development aiming for synergies between film and television production, telecommunications, and fashion design. The brand identity has helped focus priorities for infrastructural planning, including the development of telecommunications capability such as fibre optic cabling. "Broadband brought this man [Tom Cruise] to NZ: Is there no end to its powers?," hyperbolically announces the cover of Topics magazine of the Telecom Users Association of New Zealand, both winking at, and exploiting, the fan culture mentality that serves as one of the global entertainment industry's most effective networks (Carter). Wellington's vision has been rewarded with the astonishing news from Young & Rubicam's brand asset valuator study of 2000-2001 that New Zealanders rank Brand Wellington above All Blacks rugby (Totally Wellington, Annual Report 2001/2 17).

Regional branding, in turn, allows commercial cross-marketing and spin-off opportunities. Resene, which supplied the paint to refurbish the Embassy Theatre for The Return of the King premiere, illustrates one such marketing initiative with its launch of a new Lord of the Rings inspired colour in the 2003 Range: "Aptly named Wellywood, this colour is unique. Distinctive like Peter Jackson and a celebration of NZ's claim to green, Wellywood is truly one of a kind" (Resene Paints). The colour is a lime green. In addition to having an innovative "angle," cross-marketing must be responsive, and New Zealand seems to have seized the advantage over England, at least, in this respect. The night after the London world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring the New Zealand Herald ran an article entitled "NZ Rings gets flying start over squabbling British":

It is precisely because New Zealand marketers grasped the virtuality of Middle Earth, abandoning any outmoded modernist attempt to anchor it to any originary or historically legitimated location, that they could so quickly and shamelessly assign Tolkienesque nomenclature to every region of New Zealand where Jackson, aided by his location scouts, applied his Midas touch. A second fine example relating specifically to Wellywood's responsiveness and integration across multiple distribution networks occurred during research for this paper. We presented an early draft at the interdisciplinary New Zealand Studies Association conference, a gathering of academics, ex-pats, writers, and artists held on 28 June 2003 in the Penthouse of New Zealand House, central London. To our surprise, a brief article entitled "Wellywood paints the town green" was splashed on the front page of Wellington's newspaper, The Dominion Post, the following Monday: "Wellington's fame as a film-making centre and its 'Wellywood' brand are gaining international recognition, a Massey University lecturer says," gushed the opening sentence. The article selectively quoted the good news about brand Wellington's global reach while filtering out more critical elements of our analysis of the branding of New Zealand cultural production (New Zealand News UK favoured the gloomier heading "NZ film loses out" [Ray]). Although not formally affiliated to the Wellington City Council, the Dominion Post thus functions as a cultural agency for the "creative city" brand by helping to "talk it up," particularly in gamesmanship with perceived rival Auckland City.

As one of the "display boards for the new energy and expression in architecture, design, fashion and food" (Heart of the Nation 20)--"shoppertainment," "eatertainment," and "edutainment" as John Hannigan dubs these retail pleasures--Wellington has been upheld as a blueprint for the marketing strategies of other local authorities and cultural agencies. Meanwhile, other New Zealand cities are debating whether to follow Wellington's gambit. Waitakere City in the Greater Auckland region has approved loan financing of $800,000 to convert a former apple coolstore into a film studio, despite concern from some councillors that the council is gambling ratepayers' funds on the high-risk area of film making (Thompson). Following Gwynneth Paltrow's gracing of the city during the filming of Sylvia, directed by New Zealander Christine Jeffs, Dunedin is proclaiming its varied and versatile locations. Christchurch-based line-production company Kuran assists Indian film crews down under, capitalising on such Bollywood blockbusters as Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (Say I Love You, 2000), a "schmaltzy showcase of Queenstown skifields, Christchurch trams and a New World supermarket" viewed by up to 500 million Indians and credited for the three-fold increase in Indian tourists to New Zealand from 1999 to 2003 (Nathan 30). To return to Jackson's quip, not only are more pies being sold in Wellington, but also more Lindauer methode champenoise in Waitakere, haggis in Dunedin, and samosas in Christchurch. The economic size, distribution, and ownership of this film production "pie," however, has attracted energetic discussion in the New Zealand media, and we now turn to analysis of this debate.


To date, public opinion expressed through New Zealand newspapers, policy documents, trade publications, and current affairs programmes on radio and television has tended to modify, rather than contest or critique, the export-driven model of New Zealand cultural production. The anticipated economic risks can be grouped into three categories. The first factor queries the likely effectiveness of the policy drive to shift the awareness of potential investors from the spectatorial consumption of New Zealand landscape in cinema to its technical production. The second set of risks clusters around the difficulty of quantifying the downstream economic benefits of film production. In this early stage of policy direction, it is still difficult to separate reasoned economic projections from expressions of excitement, "talking up," or hype pumping up the potential of the creative industries as economic change agent. In particular, both local and national government agencies have downplayed evidence from other national industries that local screen production may suffer when international runaways and co-productions dominate investment flows, and this is the third risk factor that we discuss.

In terms of export profile and capacity, globalisation tends to intensify specialisation as trading nations focus on products and services for which they carry a comparative advantage. The New Zealand tourism industry has exploited landscape as a distinguishing feature, but as early as 1940 a leading British documentary maker advised that the nation cannot live by scenery alone: "you may make very pleasant scenic pictures but it just is not enough to appear before the world as a mere tourist resort plus a butter factory" (John Grierson, quoted in Conrich and Davy 2). The first two installments of The Lord of the Rings made great copy for tourism blurbs urging consumers to visit New Zealand as "best supporting country in a motion picture," where "the set hasn't been taken down yet." New Zealand was rewarded with Lonely Planet's designation of "Hot Spot for 2003" (David Reynes, quoted in "IMP Success Story" 8). In terms of brand development, The Lord of the Rings furnishes the New Zealand landscape-as-commodity with both the affect and narrative coherence of Tolkien's imagined world. Vic James, a guide for Red Carpet Tours, expressed this idea when he anticipated in 2001:

This internalisation of Tolkien's world increases the emotional value of the New Zealand tourism product and allows the kind of synchronicity between brand and vehicle that marketing gurus promote as optimal for market reach. As Steve Heyer enthuses, companies now look for "ideas that bring entertainment value to our brands, and ideas that integrate our brands into entertainment" (quoted in Sutter 18). The marketing strategy here extends beyond mere "product placement," in which companies pay a movie studio to feature their merchandise on screen, now regarded as potentially weakening brand integrity if the narrative context does not reinforce the entirety of the brand value.

It is the limitation that landscape might simply become a touristic product placement in Jackson's films that Helen Clark seeks to rectify by "add[ing] smart and innovative" to Brand New Zealand's "clean and green image." As Clark realises, the onscreen consumption of the New Zealand landscape does not necessarily translate, in the viewer's mind, to an appreciation of technical mastery on the part of the New Zealand film industry, let alone other sectors of the New Zealand economy. Scenery without full brand value becomes the economic equivalent of a raw resource, exported without added value. Or to put this concept into the language of screen production, scenery risks being perceived as mere "raw talent" in a pejorative sense, without cultivation or the application of intelligence. At least one website gives evidence that the "clean and green" image holds sway over the intended projection of "smart and innovative": as the "Go Nomad" website proclaims, the star of The Lord of the Rings is no hobbit or wizard but New Zealand itself, "with no acting required" (Go Nomad). Rod Oram cautions along similar lines that the New Zealand economy cannot transform itself on the basis of one film trilogy. It is wishful thinking by "Kiwi opportunists" that "Peter Jackson is going to morph into Father Christmas before our very eyes" (41). Cross-marketing "everything from wine to widgets on the back of the films" is implausible (41), Oram continues, adding that the representation of New Zealand as "mythically medieval" is not likely to convince investors to "bankroll a sophisticated software or biotech business here" (42). Helen Clark must be thrilled that a photograph of her side-by-side with Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in the production, beams through the entertainment media channels with a scenic backdrop of the South Island high country (the picture appears in Matthews 20). However, it is likely that in the eyes of the average American investor, despite her larger physical stature, it is really Clark who is the hobbit, quaint, otherworldly, and unsophisticated.

It is thus difficult to gauge whether The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as a vehicle for Brand New Zealand, conveys to a potential investment market the technological nous that national and regional policy-makers hope for. Likewise, the possible economic returns of the production remain difficult to quantify without an appropriate economic model. The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) attempted one such model in its report to the New Zealand Film Commission, Scoping the Lasting Effects of The Lord of the Rings (2002),which estimated that the production contributed $352.7 million of expenditure to the New Zealand economy. However, its methodology was quickly and justifiably fired down. As South Pacific Films CEO John Barnett points out, neither New Line nor Jackson's own production companies released production budget information to the NZIER. Not only did the NZIER base its data on a speculative sum published in a newspaper report, it also overestimated the percentage spent in New Zealand, almost exclusively interviewed people with a vested interest in a positive outcome, and failed to take into account the tax break in place prior to 1999 (Barnett "Shaky Statistics"). This shelter allowed the Australian-owned Bank of New Zealand to finance the production of The Lord of the Rings through a New Zealand-based subsidiary company, which wrote off the expenditure as a tax loss. Through a pre-arranged option the subsidiary was then sold back to the overseas producer, meaning that New Zealand taxpayers effectively shouldered one third of the financial risk of production amounting to approximately $219 million in foregone tax revenue (Barnett "Shaky Statistics"; Vaughn; Campbell "Lord of the Deals"; Campbell "Planet"). Meanwhile, reported tax revenues from around 600 film, video, and sound companies amounted to a mere $7.6 million, or 0.17% of total net revenue in the 2002-2003 financial year (Clifton 15).

Floating beyond financial niceties, the world of brand management deals not only in dollars, but also in units called "return in media profile." To the uninitiated, this index presents a curiously laputan mode of accounting. As the Totally Wellington Strategic Plan 2001-2006 states, the tourism body has increasingly "looked at events from a perspective of not only economic return, but also long-term media profile and positioning of the city" (12). Thus branding exercises are not necessarily measured against economic outcomes, reinforcing the syndrome that John Barnett, referring to the New Zealand screen production industry, calls "the desperate quest for good news" (Barnett "Shaky Statistics"). (4) Totally Wellington's Annual Report 2001/2, for example, specifies one of the key performance indicators for its Event Support unit as: "to generate a minimum 20:1 Return in Economic Impact and/or media profile from investment of the Events Budget" (20). By this measure the invitation to Tiger Woods to play in the New Zealand Golf Open in 2002 returned a branding profit of 29:1, according to the Annual Report. The event's private organisers, however, will record a financial loss of some $3.3 million (Gardner). The accounting principle operating here seems analogous to the VISA television advertisement in which a jilted woman indulges in retail therapy to heal her bruised ego. A male voiceover records the exact cost of each item she selects, but when she flaunts her sexy new look at the next cocktail party the value of her former boyfriend's reaction of surprise and regret is--'priceless." Similarly, mundanities such as production costs, box office take, and so on may be merely calculable, but brand equity--the "values, assets, properties and perceptions of a product, service, or idea" (Yadin 53)--is represented as literally beyond fiscal calculation.

Critics of the New Zealand government's recently announced financial inducements to runaways and international co-productions question just what the medium to long-term price of the policy might be for local screen production. Effectively, the policy further opens the New Zealand economy to globalisation through a geographical split between the location of financial ownership and profit, and the location of production. As Greg Elmer notes, digital communications technologies and differential production costs between economies allow the "unbundling" or deterritorialisation of film production processes, which in turn encourages capital to flow in--and out--of sites offering low costs or advantageous conditions (Elmer 427). Financing, creative direction, actors, and post-production units may now be sourced from diverse quadrants of the globe, so that the divide between so-called "above-the-line" and "below-the-line" workers can become geographically regionalised. "Above-the-line" workers, including writers, producers, directors, casting crew, and actors carry the most cultural capital and intellectual property in the production. Lower-paid "below the line" workers--the bulk of the crew, such as production assistants, set construction workers, prop department, camera operators, caterers, and post-production team--remain most at risk of industry cutbacks when budgets are tight (Elmer 427-28).

In the global entertainment industry, New Zealand risks ghettoization as a service provider for runaway productions fiscally or creatively driven from offshore. Some commentators caution that the New Zealand film industry does not want to engage in a "race to the bottom" to undercut rivals' production costs, particularly given the tight margins within the industry belied by the relatively rare box office blockbuster. "While revenues have escalated," notes media commentator Alan B. Albarran, "production and marketing costs have soared, leaving operating margins [in the U.S. industry] at record lows in both 1998 and 1999" (128). Pricing thus requires a delicate balance. As Jane Wrightson argued in 2000, "It]he next period for Wellington film will be important. We must not market ourselves as a cheap and cheerful option" (quoted in Williams). On the other end of the pricing scale, the Australian situation serves a warning notice: domestic filmmakers now favour Melbourne and Adelaide locations because Sydney's production costs have been bumped up by transnational production demand.

The future sustainability of the New Zealand film industry thus depends only partly on the creation of production skills and infrastructure, which have been boosted by Jackson's commitment of capital in the Wellington region. Securing control over distribution networks and intellectual property are also pressing issues. In 2002, the government targetted the creative industries in its growth and innovation strategy, affirming the export-substitution and value-added potential of the sector in reducing New Zealand's reliance on bulk commodity trading (Growing an Innovative New Zealand 32). A blockbuster production such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy provides the model weightless foreign exchange earner for a nation located 2,200 kilometres from its nearest export market. The film can be quickly distributed through simultaneous multiple cinema releases, and it can be replicated many times over. However, the entertainment industry is characterized by "buyer-driven commodity chains," in which "large retailers, brand name merchandisers, and trading companies play the pivotal role in setting up decentralized production networks in a variety of exporting countries" (Gereffi, quoted in Hozic 23). Companies that exercise control at the point of consumption, rather than production, benefit most from such economies of space, as starkly demonstrated by comparing the disputed economic benefits of the Lord of the Rings production to the New Zealand economy with New Line's gross earnings. Recognising that "New Zealand has no well-developed independent marketing and distribution companies," the Screen Production Taskforce has given priority to improving the industry's "market intelligence" (Taking on the World 21). (5) The industry is clearly keen to ensure that distribution-based economies of space do not collapse into production-based economies of time, such as "low labor costs, unrestricted work hours, expediency and efficiency of production, [and] micro-regulation" (Hozic 114).

International data also suggests that runaway filmmaking threatens both the volume and content of local production if not controlled or counterbalanced. From Canada, Elmer reports that Hollywood runaway productions have restrained the local screen industry, noting that in the period 1999-2000 the number of foreign production shootings grew by 37% compared to only 2% growth in Canadian productions (429-30). Canadian television broadcasting productions between 1993 and 2000 averaged a mere 3% increase, and Canadian productions became increasingly dominated by Canadian (rather than international) production crews, raising "a host of questions about the possible balkanization of the televisual industry in Canada" (430). In the Australasian context, producer John Maynard states baldly that "anywhere foreign productions increase, local productions decrease" ("Filmz"). Indeed, the flush of media reports applauding Oscars for The Lord of the Rings and international sales for Whale Rider obscured more ominous voices describing the New Zealand film industry as "very sick indeed" (Peter Jackson), "a disaster ... in terms of telling New Zealand stories" (Vincent Ward, quoted in Hansen, "Nakiwood" 19), and "intellectually rundown [and] artistically impoverished" ("A Fran by any other name"). Two events particularly emphasised the fragility of New Zealand film in 2002: the collapse of the film production company Kahukura and resulting upsurge in industry discontent with the New Zealand Film Commission, and the lack of films to support a domestic Film Award ceremony. (6)

Ward's reference to "New Zealand stories" marks fears that cultural globalisation will accompany economic globalisation. While economic globalisation is perceived as threatening American union interests, including those in the film industry (Elmer 424-26), cultural globalisation more closely approximates the idea of Americanisation through the homogenisation of cultural products to woo mainstream global audiences. A unique New Zealand idiom may be lost or compromised if government policy tends to favour film genres that suit reciprocal leveraging arrangements across advertising, music, television, leisure, interactive gaming, tourism, and education sectors. It is true that New Zealand producers successfully niche-marketed "polluted paradise" in the national cinema of the 1990s, as Ruth Brown suggests (13), citing a series of films depicting New Zealand society as sexist, homophobic, insular, and violent from colonial times to the present (The Piano [1993], Heavenly Creatures [1994], Once Were Warriors [1994]). However, disaster as the basis for an integrated brand is difficult to imagine. What merchandise might have been sold in association with these films, for example? A prosthetic finger with The Piano, a half-brick with Heavenly Creatures? The examples may be in poor taste, but the risk that New Zealand-based productions will increasingly conform to established Hollywood genres is supported out by a number of films currently in international circulation or production: blockbuster epic (The Lord of the Rings); blockbuster horror (Peter Jackson's King Kong; Stephen T. Kay's Boogeyman [2005]); uplifting kidult "glocal" tale (Whale Rider); comedy (Steven Brill's Without a Paddle [2004]); and animated fantasy (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe [2005]). Of course, the New Zealand Film Production Fund provides a measure of protectionism for local content. However, the small amount of available funds, and the requirement to secure matching overseas investment, compromises the extent to which local feature films will be able to challenge mainstream genres.


As Claudia Bell has remarked, in New Zealand public discourse economic well-being is often conflated with national well-being (191). Indeed one of the reasons for the current discursive power of branding lies precisely in its point of intersection between the twin interests of identity and commerce. An effective brand maintains sufficient purchase on existing community self-perceptions to feel organic and spontaneous to those who invest in it, emotionally as well as financially. Although orchestrated from the top down by government and corporate agencies (albeit through focus groups and other surveys), the ideological reach of branding stems from its capacity to appear to have evolved from the "grassroots" upwards. As Lodge notes, national brand equity, defined as "those residual beliefs in people's minds about a country which they believe they have adduced for themselves," should generate self-confidence and pride (372). (7) Thus the language of branding initiatives often approximates cultural nationalist rhetoric, a point that can distract analysis from appreciating just how fundamentally cultural policy has shifted in New Zealand. Clark's well-known personal pleasures in the arts, her assumption of the Culture and Heritage Portfolio, and her humanist rhetoric supporting the arts as guarantor of national identity have led Lydia Wevers and Mark Williams, for example, to complain that government policy continues to "affirm traditional notions of the link between culture and nation" (16). By contrast, what we hope to have conveyed is the potential breadth and penetration of commercialisation wrought through integrated branding strategies, effectively bringing a "friendly face" to the economic globalisation of New Zealand screen production.

To place the government's June 2003 grant scheme announcement in perspective, consider three overlapping, but more or less successive perspectives that have circulated since 1984 on the role that the cultural sector plays within the nation: as a tool of foreign policy (c. 1984-1991); as private investment (c. 1991-2002); and, in the presently emergent discourse that we have highlighted, as instrument of economic policy, particularly with respect to the role of the screen production industry in regional economic development, tourism marketing, and enticement of foreign direct investment. As Gregory A. Waller notes in his invaluable historical survey of the establishment and shifting policy objectives of the New Zealand Film Commission (1996; revised version forthcoming), the Labour government of 1984-1990 exempted the arts from its neoliberal economic programme of privatization and devolution. Reflecting a bifurcation that would eventually split the government between free market advocates and those favouring some continued measure of state interventionism, then Prime Minister David Lange identified film as the "third dimension in our foreign policy." A flourishing "New Zealand feature film industry" would "make statements about New Zealand overseas which are worth immeasurable amounts to us in focusing attention on New Zealand" (quoted in Waller 251). However, the incoming National administration led by Prime Minister Jim Bolger effected a twenty percent reduction in total funding for the New Zealand Film Commission in 1991 (Waller 255). This funding squeeze continued throughout the 1990s, prompting arts agencies to recover costs through such avenues as corporate sponsorship, increased sales, and rising admission prices. Despite a large capital injection in 1995-1996 to fund the construction of Te Papa, state funding for all national arts institutions except Te Papa and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust fell in real terms from 1990-2000 (Heart of the Nation 62). (8) Labour's funding recovery package of $87 million in May 2000 was a barbed gift, as the government's renewed interest in the arts signalled its intentions to submit the cultural sector (now increasingly termed the "cultural industries") to the kinds of radical restructuring implemented across the manufacturing sector, agriculture, education, telecommunications, energy, and the public service in the previous two decades.

Defenders of national branding present it as a means for small states to make big statements in global marketplaces of products and ideas. Where Naomi Klein's No Logo (2000) exposes corporate branding as a form of false consciousness eliding the material conditions of production in poor countries, Simon Anholt's Brand New Justice (2002) anticipates a second phase in branding strategy, in which economically marginal nations take on the first world at their own game. National branding can emulate the mechanisms of corporate branding to counter structural inequities, Anholt suggests. However, as Arjun Appadurai more critically notes, small groups (we may include entire marginal nations in this category) can thus become seduced "with the fantasy of self-display on some sort of global or cosmopolitan stage" (304). Peter van Ham goes one step further and urges states to make brands not war, for state branding is "gradually supplanting nationalism" and thus "contributing greatly to the further pacification of Europe" (3). (9) Branding effects what Anholt, following Joseph Nye, terms "soft power," the capacity to make people want to do what their governing corporate bodies want them to do (Anholt 13). In the New Zealand context, integrated branding has already proven more populist and less divisive than the blunter, budget-slashing, and sometimes hectoring reform tactics employed by the National governments of the early to mid-1990s, as recorded in contestatory accounts of market liberalisation such as Alister Barry's documentaries Someone Else's Country (1996) and In a Land of Plenty (2002), Bruce Jesson's book Only Their Purpose is Mad (1999), and Jane Kelsey's Rolling Back the State (1993) and The New Zealand Experiment (1995). Ruffle-headed Peter Jackson as "poster boy for fast capitalism," in Thierry Jutel's phrase (Jutel), is more likely to inspire an ethos of creative, export-oriented entrepreneurialism in your average Kiwi than the alienating figures of the corporate tycoon of privatisation's heyday or the white-coated technocrat of New Zealand's "knowledge economy" drive in the 1990s (Oram 45). Malcolm Evans' New Zealand Herald cartoon of 9 May 2003 ironically alludes to the absence of public resistance to the government's expenditure on global entertainment events: a yachtsman holds a cheque for $30 million for Team New Zealand's bid to regain the America's Cup; a Gollum-like figure likewise holds a cheque for $4.5 million for the Return of the King premiere; but a blindfolded woman holds an empty piece of paper for "a life ruined by pathology," referring to fatal blunders within the New Zealand health system attributed to cost-cutting. Public funds, Evans implies, could be more effectively applied to essential infrastructure rather than what we have termed national and regional "star gazing" to secure New Zealand's profile in the global entertainment industry. Such querying of financial priorities seems muted in Brand New Zealand's seamless face of social cohesion as the country pulls together creatively and entrepreneurially to achieve unity through sales.


We have put the case that the instrumentalising of film production in New Zealand for exercises in national branding opens the industry to what Jane Kelsey calls "globalisation by stealth." Noting that by 2002 the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development ranked New Zealand the OECD's most "transnationalised" country (Crossroads 37), Jane Kelsey summarises Labour's "third way" policies as a continuation of the "globalisation agenda," albeit with a "social face," including "protection for labour and the environment, ... [and] greater consultation with business, unions and 'civil society'" (38). She warns that government funding to culture-specific services, such as New Zealand's education system and arts infrastructure, may be further opened to international competition in negotiation rounds for the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). In public perception, however, integrated branding encourages what Appadurai terms "production fetishism," in which a nation proudly appropriates as "ours" an entity that is largely owned and controlled overseas, creating an illusion of "local control, national productivity and territorial sovereignty" that obscures the transnationalism of a product (306). As the Heart of the Nation report observes, what is often casually termed international "investment" in New Zealand film "can be described more accurately as the purchase of services and use of facilities (including scenery). The principal return on this investment will therefore not be represented by export receipts, but by the development of creativity, skills, goodwill and new business opportunities" (68). While the June 2003 funding package will create exciting new activity in local screen production and serves as a tribute to the current government's populism and economic leadership, it also maintains, and perhaps furthers, the development of an expendable New Zealand service industry for transnational producers.

Works Cited

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Anholt, Simon. Brand New Justice: The Upside of Global Branding. Oxford: Butter-worth-Heinemann, 2002.

Appadurai, Arjun. "Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy." Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization, and Modernity. Ed. Mike Featherstone. London: Sage, 1993. 295-310.

Barker, George R. Cultural Capital and Policy. Wellington: Australian National University Centre for Law and Economics and the New Zealand Film Commission, 2000.

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--. Letter to the Editor. National Business Review 1 August 2003: 37.

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Evans, Malcolm. Cartoon. New Zealand Herald 9 May 2003: A12.

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Florida, Richard. The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

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Gardner, James. "Golf open loses millions." Weekend Herald 26 January 2002.

Go Nomad. "Following the Rings in New Zealand." 6 February 2003.

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