Thanks Mark. Yeah, I have to say I have no especial fondness for Capital Times - I was a longtime City Voice contributor, and felt it was a much more meaningful project to be part of... and never really appreciated CapTimes' fairly hardball tactics in terms of advertisers, which did eventually play a pretty major role in killing the paper, especially for what was by it's very nature a fairly anodyne alternative.
Less contentiously, I won't be there tonight, and would appreciate any reports anyone wants to make...
Yes that's great! And yes, the wayward influence on Chris that can no doubt be traced all the way through to the Headless Chickens...
Hi Paul, cheers, I was at a bunch of those gigs too. I remember talking to Alastair at Palmerston as well - I bought a copy of the very short, very beautiful Cluster 7" off him in exchange for a double whisky, at his request ($5). The piano-drum turned up in about 1996, I think the Auckland gigs were at the Temple and at Herzog? Both venues are long gone of course...
There is still a decent lot of music down here in Dunedin, but both money and audience numbers remain as scarce in supply as they would have been in the late 80s. You can live cheaply down here, and have exceptionally interesting friends with rich histories though...And amazing new music continues to be made. Ian Henderson of Fishrider records has done a great job pushing the indie pop end of things into the world, but the experimental post-Xpressway bands are still present here too. Older projects like Eye (Peter Stapleton, Peter Porteous, Jon Chapman) and Gate (Michael Morley's still vital solo project) co-exist with newer bands like The Ladder is Part of the Pit (Richard Scowan, Motoko Kikkawa, and a shifting line-up mixing strings and electronics, and for my money the best live band in the country at the moment) and Wolfskull (Clayton Noone, Dene Barnes, Brendon Philip, others, a gloriously erratic sludgey noise band). Dene Barnes solo project LSD Fundraiser has been getting a lot of deserved attention too. But all these gigs tend to take place to pretty small audiences, and it seems hard to get bands coming through... So something else that hasn't changed..
Hey Diane! Yeah, Peter said he'd talked to you during the interregnum. We talked about the possibilities of looking again at what we had shot sometime, so there are conversations to be had...
Hmmm, I think I still find introspective self-interrogation pretty rewarding at times too, but I see your point. Possibly an interesting tension to be explored around that too. Wish I could be going up to film this one, but barring last-minute miracles, I think it's looking unlikely. Living among the precariat has its pleasures, but not so much security...
Thanks Philip. Been a while since I was writing for you at Capital Times... and delivering the damn thing some weeks too.
There is a very fine film, Asylum Pieces, directed by Kathy Dudding, from a few years ago, based around the Porirua asylum, and more broadly mental health care in New Zealand. Very essayistic in tone and technique, very focused and stern, one of my favourite NZ films in fact. I don't think it's readily available, but the Film Archive will have it at least. Kathy worked there, in ways unusually supplemental to her film-making practice. Asylum Pieces was her last -and best- film, she died of lung cancer very shortly after finishing it. It should be seen much more...
Fair points there, but I would argue that this approach does make it harder to produce and distribute films, than the approach of distributing that money amongst a lot more filmmakers, and starting the building of smaller niches where we can function without betting the farm on one big project where the leeching off of money is so heavily built in. An alternate strategy of spending that subsidy provision on directly financing a lot of smaller films and paying to market them to wherever they need to as part of that financing - which can, would need to, include very specific cross-platforming - would see a lot more development of craft skills, better chances for advancement among crews, leave a lot of room to innovate and avoid top down models that work to crush culture.
As it is everyone starts from zero in some way. The ways in which we don't start from zero - as Jonathan points out - can be as damaging as the ways we do! What we'd learn from Cameron and Landau might be very interesting, but they exist in such different systems, and their approaches are unlikely to be sustainable in our system, except for maybe one filmmaker. And we already have our One Filmmaker, right?
Bill? Actually the Film Festival has suffered as much as anyone from changes in cinema. I'd love for them to be able to play a much wider array of films and look less to the purse as well, but they've had to follow a different model. The support I received early in my career from Bill would be unlikely to be extended now, as the Festival have been at pains to point out.
well, ok, i'm maybe a little snarky ahead of schedule, but i'm not sure how this increased focus on marketing work will help in terms of developing NZ content. I notice the Govt line on NZ content has shifted largely aware from culture being the determinant of NZ-ness, and is considering it almost solely in terms of IP This doesn't make better NZ films, it cripples better NZ filmmakers into learning how to make Hollywood films (or other parts of the commercial screen sector, yes), or going into the deep underground like i did. It feels like the bone being thrown to local filmmakers, (rather than film industry workers, who can feel a little relief not available to people in many other industries).
Indeed, if anyone was uncertain about their position, today would provide some kind of... clarity? Business as usual, including misleading noises. I especially liked two clauses in the agreement:
a featurette on New Zealand being included in DVDs and Blu Rays.
An offer by James Cameron and Jon Landau to serve as founding members of a new screen advisory board, which will provide advice and guidance to New Zealand screen and film makers looking to succeed internationally.
So, not just exploitation, but also paternalism!
Maybe really seeing how these markets have changed might be a good way to understand how to produce them? Right now the ‘way to produce things’ seems strongly linked to how markets used to work … And people are just willing it to go back to how it was … or demanding laws are changed (labour laws, copyright laws) to squeeze things back into the shape they were?
I've been thinking about - nearly responded a couple times - while i've been battling to review the new Hobbit, to find a way to talk about the problems i have with it in 800 words, which are very much to do with this. I mean, I see the application of market logic ahead of what i would (deliberately naively perhaps) describe as the craft approach to making films, leads to work like the Hobbit, where the rolling together of cinema of spectacle, gaming and what I'd characterise as "internet content" leads to the destruction of what is important about each of them.
From this, I also would say that to me the film showed that allowing the lines between them to dissolve is somewhat catastrophic, because it's a piece of amorphous screen content with no identity beyond its branding.
Secondly there is no element of national cinema present - except perhaps in a negative sense through the co-option of landscape that is then distorted by digital cinema techniques designed to render it a no-space, which then exploits our national identity as part of a marketing plan, thus "national cinema" becomes the cinema that our nation is branded with, with no choice in the matter - but is also the most highly subsidised film possible.
Further if we use the model i think you're suggesting, it becomes destructive towards innovation: we are only following trends, and only those at the top of the financing foodchain are able to dictate changes, and they retain the ability to buy any new changes they want, because we have created audiences that do crave innovation, arguably for both better and worse.
For a small player like NZ, this is very destructive of our ability to produce content of our own choice. To work in this way involves competing in a game where we lack the clout to win or even survive, even if only because all the bigger players rig the game. I think this is what we are seeing: the crisis of the craven, you could call it, perhaps.
I also think nobody is in a position to "understand this industry", as Bart puts it, but there's a few people around who are in a position to dictate the terms of it. Not to say researching these things is not important and valuable - but I think our filmmaking would be better if filmmakers were allowed to make films more, instead of being required to second guess market trends.
I think - even though I would say i don't personally think cinema's primary quality is that its "larger than life", as Geoff puts it, it is something close to that: a social space where we are attentive and the projection is out of our control as audience members, but where we have a sense of private and bodily connection. This has little in common as an effect with internet delivered content, or with gaming, or even with home cinema. Similarly, Geoff, your evident pleasure at going to cinemas is something that is very heartening to a producer of something i still think of as such - but it really does illustrate that putting all these elements under a convenient catchall will result in poor analysis, and poor screen content, no matter how much it has become part of our contemporary discourse.