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The city council and the film business

miiramar
Mural at the Roxy Cinema in Miramar, used in WCC advertisement

by Lindsay Shelton
The Wellington City Council sent me a delusional twitter yesterday. The message was clear. The twitter told me that the council has decided to create a film industry in Miramar.

The twitter was a repeat of a the message in a full page advertisement in the DomPost.

“We’re working to develop a film precinct in Miramar with a world-class film museum in the central city”

There are two parts to that confusingly guileless message. Let’s start with the first half: the council wants us to think that it’s doing something to create film-making activity in Miramar?

It wants us to forget that the film precinct in Miramar has been there for two decades, since the establishment of Weta Workshop and then Weta Digital and Park Road Post Production and Stone Street Studios. Not because of anything that the council might have done. But because of the unique and enormous talent of Peter Jackson and his colleagues.

Perhaps the person who wrote the twitter didn’t pay enough attention to what the council is actually doing.

“Considering the development” of a film precinct is somewhat different from “working” to develop it. as the twitter misleading claimed. And anyway, once they’ve finished considering their idea, they’ll have discovered that the precinct exists already. Without needing council help. Unless the council is thinking of using the rates to invest in a few movies. Or perhaps it’s thinking of having plaques in the pavements, with the names and palm-prints of famous Wellington film makers. As they do on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. (Well, not Wellington film-makers, but you know what I mean).

Then consider the second half of the message – the council’s strange statement that it is developing a film museum. Of world class, of course. Would anyone expect a museum which didn’t reach such a standard?

The logic is impossible to follow. The council wants us to believe that its staff have the knowledge and experience and talent (and spare time) to create a new museum? And it also wants to believe that a film museum in the central city will somehow help establish a film precinct in Miramar?

This part of the message seems to be a continuation of the the council’s embarrassing efforts to claim ownership of the film museum project. But everyone knows that the film museum is a long-term project of Sir Peter and Sir Richard, which will be developed, or not, according to their timeline and their wishes, and not according to the timeline or the dreams of the city council.

There’s more. If you keep on reading the details of the city council’s film precinct, you discover that the council, seemingly oblivious to the existence of a world-class film school in Vivian Street and a world-class and long-established academic film degree course at Victoria University, has come up with the idea of having “an international film school” somewhere inside its film precinct. Has it told the film school and the university that it wants to go into competition with them? It should stay out of the education business, and stick to making movies. World class ones, of course.