Hollywood, Wellywood or the backwoods?

Conor, Bridget
King, Barry
Cocker, Alan
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis is concerned with the New Zealand film industry and its historical and ongoing relationship with the Hollywood film industry. It will critically evaluate the notion that New Zealand now has more autonomy and independence in the international film industry and the analysis will examine the realities for both the New Zealand and Hollywood film industries by unravelling the hype and rhetoric at both core and periphery.There has been a huge amount of activity, discussion and 'hype' surrounding feature film production in New Zealand in the last few years, particularly in the wake of The Lord of the Rings production and its international success. There is also optimism that changes in the dominant US mode of production and the rise of a global entertainment industry is diminishing the centralised power of Hollywood and creating new opportunities for international filmmaking outside the US.The New Zealand industry (like many other 'national' cinemas) has always struggled between commercial and cultural imperatives for filmmaking. Using a political economy approach, this thesis examines these two imperatives as threads through the development of a national film culture in New Zealand and the constant struggle against the dominant power of Hollywood film. It works to uncover the false and often contradictory dichotomy between the two polarities, cultural and commercial.Recent policy initiatives and the activities of the New Zealand Government in terms of feature filmmaking are also examined. The initiatives of the New Zealand Government are embodied in the 'Brand NZ' slogan that has been employed in order to promote New Zealand as a location for global production capital. The central argument is that a third, hybrid model has become increasingly visible as a complex 'partnership' has developed between a Hollywood studio, New Line Cinema and a national government, New Zealand's.A slogan such as 'Brand NZ' indicates that this third model is primarily a commercial construct. What is not made clear in the New Zealand context and is in fact, obscured by the hype and rhetoric, is that this third model is also a core-periphery model. Therefore, the much vaunted independent and more autonomous national film industry in New Zealand is largely illusory.

Motion picture industry , Communication Studies
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