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Kiwi film industry pipped by tax lures

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 05:00 08/12/2013

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Mr Pip director Andrew Adamson is joining his friend Sir Peter Jackson in calling for more competitive tax incentives to save New Zealand's ailing film industry.

Auckland-based Adamson is considered one of the country's greatest storytellers, with blockbuster movie credits including Shrek and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the latter filmed in part in New Zealand.

However, the award-winning film-maker said uncertainty over the film industry was creating a talent drain.

"It's doing very poorly at the moment. I have a lot of friends who are having to leave the country. The choice for the Government right now is whether they want a film industry or not."

That follows similar concerns aired by Jackson and film industry representatives, who say New Zealand's 15 per cent tax incentive is no longer competitive against countries' tax breaks which were as high as 25 per cent. The Government says it will not join a bidding war for the greatest incentives.

Economic Development minister Steven Joyce said he would prefer to provide subsidies for local players to develop a more sustainable industry.

But Adamson fears we're already losing some of our skilled film production workforce.

"They will leave, and then people won't be able to make films here because it will be too expensive to start all over again. I would like to keep making films here. My kids go to school here. It makes sense."

However, desire was no substitute for quality.

"If the film is not going to be as good by doing that, then I'm not going to do that. You put so much energy into a film that you want it to be as good as it can be."

England, Australia and Canada were among the countries offering better incentives than New Zealand.

"The incentives are an easy thing. It's not like spending money on a stadium for the World Cup," Adamson said.

New Zealand's film industry's success over the past decade had been partly driven by individuals, including Jackson, who chose to make films here and invested in infrastructure, he said.

Mr Pip, a low-budget film, was made with the help of one of Jackson's companies, which provided free post-production time.

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- Sunday Star Times

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