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I am writing to you on behalf of Creative Digital Content Auckland. Founded in June 2008, CDC-Auckland is an industry organization representing the interests of creative digital content companies in the greater Auckland region. Our organization brings together around 50 companies with activities across the animation, gaming, visual effects and education sectors.
Thank you for the invitation to provide comment. We believe the review being undertaken by Mr Jackson and Mr Court is an important opportunity for the New Zealand Film Commission to develop its understanding of the digital content space, in particular animation and visual effects. We also believe it is vital that our sector receives greater acknowledgement and focus given its rapidly expanding role and significance to global film industry today.
* Animation and visual effects is a multi-billion dollar global industry
Feature film animation has enjoyed uninhibited prosperity since its revival with Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in 1991. Commercially, this film genre has been highly successful with five to ten of the top grossing films produced each year since 2000 being animated features. Similarly, the visual effects industry has exploded over the last 20 years, paralleling the exponential growth of the computing and software industries.
In 2006, commentators predicted global “filmed entertainment” revenues to reach $100b by 2010. Today, figures show animation and visual effects related projects represent around 25% of screen content produced each year. Internet sources suggest that 18 of the top 100 grossing films of all time are full animated features, and a large majority of the remaining 82 contain significant elements of animation and visual effects.
*In order to establish a foot hold, the New Zealand animation and visual effects industry relies on funding sources such as government, as do the vast majority of film production companies here
New Zealand producers are small by global standards and making it difficult for us to draw direct comparison to global figures. With some notable exceptions, New Zealand producers don’t have ready access to large-scale private investment or global distribution channels that our US and Canadian contemporaries enjoy.
Budgets and distribution issues aside, representation of animation and visual effects has been disproportionately low when it comes to Film Commission board representation and funding decisions.
We note a number of short films have been supported however, since its inception in 1978, the Film Commission has not granted funding support for the production of an animated feature, with the possible exception of development funding for Bro’Town the movie.
* How do we clear the way for the Film Commission to support the New Zealand animation and visual effects sector?
While considering the review questions put forward, a number of issues were raised by the members of the CDC group, including:
* We wish to highlight that animation and visual effect projects vary considerably from traditional live action films and need to be treated differently
It has been suggested that animated projects are higher risk and costly. It’s is accurate to say differences lie in the production process - longer lead times and greater investment per minute of output - however it would be inaccurate to equate this to less value for money.
An animated feature represents a potentially better commercial model than film, with greater downstream revenues possible for a number of reasons, not the least of which are:
We note that NZ On Air’s policy is to support television projects with cross-platform potential.
* CDC-Auckland believes one of the most effective things the review team can do is to commission formal research and analysis of the genre of feature film animation, including visual effects, with a view to being better informed and equipped to assist with new animated feature projects.
We recommend that a review of this nature would require a high degree of international and local expertise. There is considerable expertise available, with the likes of John Barnett, Richard Taylor and Andrew Adamson to call on, as well as members of the national animation and visual effects community, many of whom are uniquely qualified. As the Chair of CDC-Auckland, I would be pleased to be involved.
We recommend that research should be conducted with brevity, and should focus on the following key aspects:
From this research, analysis and review process we would anticipate the following outcomes:
In summary, CDC-Auckland believes animation and visual effects is a pinnacle issue of the Film Commission review and we would like to arrange a time to meet with the review team to engage in further discussion.
Thanks and regards
CREATIVE DIGITAL CONTENT AUCKLAND
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