“(Blue Harvest insinuate) that our own stories aren’t interesting to anyone but ourselves.”
“Blue Harvest would have us play a perpetual game of cultural catch-up, trying to mimic what’s popular in a lame attempt to get Hollywood’s attention. If the film industry were a playground and the Hollywood studios were the popular kids, Blue Harvest would be the kids dressing like them in a desperate attempt to be ‘accepted’. Nobody likes those kids.”
“When we start being honest with ourselves, when we take ownership of our stories and stop acting like they’re something to be ashamed of, we benefit – we make films that look good, are good, and get attention. If we don’t care about what we have to say, if we only want to say what other people are saying, why even say it?”
I think what I find most frustrating about the article is that it’s clear from the way that it’s written that Adam has zero experience in dealing with New Zealand funding bodies, yet is so obnoxiously over-opinionated and dogmatic.
It’s pretty obviously written to provoke through mocking - you don’t need to read past the headline “We Have So Much Creativity Our Production Company Is Named After The Working Title of Star Wars” to understand that much, but that’s hard to get past. When you start an article in such a childish tone, don’t be surprised when people don’t take you seriously or even think you’re a bit of an ass.
And it’s not just the headline, either. The opening sentence puts ‘industry professionals’ in quotations as if to question the validity of the term in relation to the Blue Harvest executive producer team. That’s a step beyond mocking or being provocative - that’s an outright ‘fuck you’. It’s just rude. To which I say to Adam: who the hell are you to judge their credentials? Grow up.
But the issue is not just the childish tone. The bit that makes it obvious Adam doesn’t know what he is talking about is the load of bollox he vomits out in the body of the article.
Anyone who has the slightest bit of experience in applying for funding from the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) in the last decade, or even knows someone else who has experience in applying for funding from the NZFC in the last decade, knows the frustration that New Zealand film-makers have around the vague criteria of their film needing to contain “significant New Zealand content”. Rightly or wrongly, there is a perception amongst New Zealand film-makers that in order to get funding from the NZFC you need to fit a very specific, cliched idea of what “significant New Zealand content” means - and the perception of that cliche is dark dramas. More often than not they are coming-of-age films that feature long empty country roads, magical mountains or dark childhoods. But I’m not writing this to argue whether this is the case or not, or whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing - neither are the point. The point is that this is the perception of a LOT of New Zealand film-makers.
And look, I understand that the NZFC is between a rock and a hard place. They’re a government funding organisation that exists to act as custodians of New Zealand film culture in a time when money is harder and harder to come by and thus there is an expectation of the government that the films they fund turn a profit and be a commercial success internationally. But you know what, Adam? The sad reality is that those expectations are contradictions! That’s why it’s not black and white. That’s why lots of New Zealand film-makers are frustrated. New Zealand films should have significant New Zealand content. Absolutely. No-one is arguing that. But how is “significant New Zealand culture” interpreted? That’s at the very bottom of this whole thing.
So more and more New Zealand film-makers are bored of making these types of movies, or just outright don’t want to bother making them in the first place, just because it is what is expected of them. They’re dying to be given the opportunity to make the movies that they want to make. And you know what type of movies the large majority of them are passionate about? The type of movies that most of them are really itching to make? Genre movies. Fact.
The Blue Harvest pod (and that’s what it is - an executive producer pod, not a production company as your headline refers to them as - another clear example you don’t understand this funding paradigm and probably shouldn’t even be commenting on it) is not saying “to be commercially successful you must come to us with genre films because they are the only movies that can make money internationally and dark dramas will never” - that’s your naive inference. They are actually saying “we understand this underlying frustration that exists amongst New Zealand film-makers, that you think you need to make a certain type of dark drama in order to get NZFC funding, but we’re here today to say now is your chance! Come to us with your genre ideas because we want to make those movies too!”.
Your other inference that Blue Harvest insinuate that “our own” stories aren’t interesting to anyone but ourselves is so, so, so wrong. They’re not saying that at all - they’re saying the definition of “our stories” isn’t just dark drama, and if you want to make a New Zealand horror movie, then we think that could be one of “our stories” too.
The fact that Blue Harvest are requiring proposals to include a career plan should be commended, not ridiculed. They want film-makers who are dead serious. It’s $90,000 to make a 10 minute short film - it would be crazy if they weren’t doing this. It’s not about “making Hollywood movies to get noticed”. Not at all. It’s about making commercially viable movies to forward your career, hopefully internationally. Can you honestly not see how you have inferred a fallacy into this through ignorance and complete misunderstanding??
Also, it’s not like New Zealand film-makers who want to make dark dramas are left out of this funding round, either! In your article you make no mention of the fact that Blue Harvest is one of three NZFC Premier Shorts EP pods, and they are the only one specifically requesting proposals for genre scripts.
Asking for genre proposals isn’t a restriction, it’s a huge fucking opportunity!!
The fact that Blue Harvest exists is exciting!!
New Zealand film-makers have been waiting for something like this for a long time, and all you can do is mock it? Honestly? If I were you I would keep your mouth shut, Adam. It’s pretty clear you don’t actually understand what Blue Harvest is about at all. All you’ve done is embarrass yourself, and you don’t even have the self-awareness to realise it - if your recent tweets are anything to go by.
When my general manager sent out a mass-email inviting all staff to a 3D screening of Thor, I quickly and politely declined. Not my thing.
Over the next few days leading up to the work-outing, I got given a lot of grief around the coffee machine (our industry’s water cooler) for being a “bit of a movie snob” and for having “weird taste” —- sigh.
“Come on! It’s got a really high rating on IMDb!” I got told, as if that actually meant something. Jokingly, I replied that if the movie was over 90% fresh on RottenTomatoes.com that I would come along.
I immediately pulled out my phone to check…
Huh. 91% fresh. Will you look at that? Snap.
After all that, I wouldn’t say I went into the movie wanting to hate it, exactly - I just knew it wasn’t going to be my thing.
But then a funny thing happened. Sitting there with my 3D glasses, popcorn and frozen coke (because if I’m going to do a popcorn movie, I’m damn-well going to do a popcorn movie) I started cracking up. At first at how bad the dialogue was -
Dammit, Jane! You’re an astrophysicist, not a storm-chaser!
The thing is, I kept laughing, and I get the feeling Thor was laughing with me. The movie, that is, not the god.
This movie knows just how camp it is (very) and it not only doesn’t give a fuck, it basks in it. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of trashy kids action movies from the 80’s. Masters of the Universe is an almost too obvious comparison. It’s a ridiculous premise, but the goofy gags that come from a fish-out-of-water God on Earth are undeniably fun.
To a film-maker or student, there is a lot to dislike. The movie is littered with unmotivated dutch angles for it’s entire duration, and while the production design of Asgard wears the movie’s budget on it’s sleeve, the actual photography throughout is very, very average.
But at the end of all that, it’s the fun that I walked out of the cinema with. I’m really, really glad that my co-workers hassled me into going.
Maybe I should stop being such a movie snob ;)