Buzz from the Beehive: Using the Oscars to put a spotlight on the investment of public funds in the movie business

Several awards had been presented to Academy Award hopefuls at time of writing, including the first televised award. Ariadne DeBose won the Oscar for best supporting actress.

But ahead of the big occasion in Hollywood, two Ministers aimed to get a share of the spotlight by acknowledging that a New Zealand delegation had headed to Los Angeles to lift the profile of our screen sector.  This gelled with the Kiwi co-production The Power of the Dog going up against the world’s best for the Academy Awards.

Fair to say, the press statement (if you read all of it) did acknowledge there was another Kiwi in the running for an Oscar.

Stuff was  more appreciative that Wellingtonian Sean Walker was basking among the stars on the red carpet ahead of the Oscars ceremony in Hollywood and described him as a superstar.

 Walker, who is nominated for best visual effects for his team’s work on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is getting the full celebrity experience at the 94th Academy Awards.

The ministerial statement was focused on the team involved in the Campion movie,  bankrolled – at least partly – by our taxpayers.

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash dished up some numbers to show the investment of just over $8 million had been “worth every cent”.

But first, the expression of best wishes:

 “On behalf of the whole country we are sending best wishes to director Dame Jane Campion and the entire cast and crew, as the film shapes up as one of the strongest contenders for an Oscar,” said Carmel Sepuloni.

“Dame Jane has pulled off a stunning achievement with this film and its 12 nominations. We are so proud of her record-breaking first, as the only female director nominated twice for Best Director.”

As the government reconnected New Zealand to the world, she said, the head of the NZ Film Commission has headed to LA

“… to further strengthen relationships with studio executives, secure new productions, and share the message that Aotearoa New Zealand is open for business.

“While there David Strong will also meet with studios, major production companies and streamers, and undertake business development for potential U.S. productions to come to New Zealand.

“Reconnecting New Zealand to the world is a pivotal part of our response to the pandemic, and secures the recovery for sectors like the arts and film industry. Visibility at this prestigious event will help promote our film industry on the international stage.”

On behalf of the country, Sepuloni and Stuart Nash congratulated Dame Jane for her success in being nominated for awards and for creating a darkly spellbinding film.

“New Zealand can be proud of our creative sector and screen industry, and local workers and businesses from locations all over New Zealand who helped make this film happen. It is a firm favourite,” said Stuart Nash.

“The movie was part-financed by government. It has been worth every cent. The investment of just over $8 million not only made good economic sense, it has been rewarded by the Oscar nominations, which recognise the peak of global filmmaking.

“Twelve Academy Award nominations are a huge vote of confidence in the technical and artistic talents we have in this country. It proves we have a world class film industry and are a highly desirable place to make screen productions.”

“Investment came from the government’s Domestic Screen Production Grant and NZ Film Commission funds. The production saw an estimated $28 million spent locally at a time when the economy was reeling from the first outbreak of COVID19.

“Filmed entirely in New Zealand, The Power of the Dog is a New Zealand-Australian co-production which employed hundreds of Kiwis including 328 crew, 290 extras and 28 cast. Filming took place over 50 shooting days, with 17 weeks of pre-production.

“It was shot on locations including Dunedin Railway Station, a farm in Hawkdun Ranges in Maniototo, the Ida Valley, the Victorian Precinct in Oamaru, Queenstown, and studios in Auckland.”

Oh – and the ministers didn’t forget about Sean Walker:

“We also offer best wishes and congratulations to Wētā Digital and Sean Walker who are nominated for Best Visual Effects for Marvel’s Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

And then back to the business of  whipping up more business.

“The Film Commission delegation in L.A. has one story to tell the US film industry – we are open for business and we are amongst the world’s best,” said Stuart Nash.

Latest from the Beehive

Spotlight on Kiwi film The Power of the Dog

A New Zealand delegation has headed to Los Angeles to lift the profile of our screen sector as Kiwi co-production The Power of the Dog goes up against the world’s best for the Academy Awards.

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