Leading NZ movie-maker blasts costly academic industry study
South Pacific Pictures CEO John Barnett rubbishes a Victoria University study which, among its findings, says New Zealand's film industry is "tough" but rewarding.
The study, led by Dr Deborah Jones from Victoria's management school and Dr Judith Pringle from AUT, was given $420,000 of Marsden funds over a three-year period.
The study involved "in-depth" interviews with 25 people working in the film industry, and followed them up a year later.
Mr Barnett says it is an outrage the study could be given that much funding.
"I can't understand why it took three years to do it. There's about a week's work in this."
Mr Barnett has produced some of New Zealand's most successful recent films, including Whale Rider and Sione's Wedding.
Among the findings, the study says paid work in the industry ebbs and flows according to projects under way, and if there is no work, people find jobs elsewhere or work for nothing.
Mr Barnett says that is no secret, and it is reasonable because film is a freelance business.
He says people shouldn't complain about the irregularity of work.
"There are a lot of people who want to work in the industry but they're possibly not good enough and therefore they're not getting the work.
"It's a completely voluntary thing – no one's telling you that you need to be a film worker.
"If you want to be a film worker and you don't get work, get another job or go to a different industry."
Mr Barnett also refutes the claim film crews work long hours for little pay.
"The average freelance income is twice the average wage.
"People work a least 50 hours a week, but it is very rare to find people working on these productions earning less than $1000 a week."
The one thing the study got right, says Mr Barnett, was the inclusion of a paper by Rachel Wolfgramm and Ella Henry – who resigned as Human Rights Commissioner in 2001 after accusing the police of racism – on Maori perspectives of the industry.
The paper says, "Maori don't necessarily view the issues in the same way".
"They are more likely to see themselves as entrepreneurs, creating something for the collectve good of their people, than workers on a project."
Mr Barnett says that "absolutely sums up what happens in the film industry, and is the experience of most film workers".