Pukeko wants part in TV’s golden age

Pukeko wants part in TV’s golden age

NEW MARKET: Pukeko Pictures chief executive Andrew Smith wants to bring TV gold to our  shores.

A Wellington children’s television producer is growing up and looking to cash in on the global growth in high-quality adult television.

Pukeko Pictures chief executive Andrew Smith wants to attract projects on the scale of global fantasy hit Game of Thrones to our shores.

The Wellington producer of children’s shows Jane and The Dragon and The WotWots – which screens in more than 100 countries – has announced plans to venture into top- end prime time adult drama, with changes in government grants bringing extra funding within reach.

New Zealand-made TV exports such as Top of the Lake, Spartacus, and the Hercules and Power Rangers series showed what the homegrown industry could do, Smith said.

Pukeko Pictures’ 21st-century reprisal of 1960s television classic Thunderbirds will hit British screens in 2015, and the company is hunting for a new project.

The New Zealand film industry’s talent had already been showcased on the world stage through blockbuster epics Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Avatar. Now it was the small screen’s turn, he said. “TV is in what we call a golden age.”

The Miramar production company was founded in 2008 by Smith, Weta Workshop’s Sir Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Martin Baynton.

Pukeko Pictures is hoping to cash in on the newly lowered thresholds for taxpayer-funded grants for screen projects. The government’s large-budget screen production grant was set at projects valued at $15 million or more, a bar too high for most television productions. But in July the threshold was cut to $4m to attract more screen industry cash to New Zealand.

Smith said the success of hit shows such as Breaking Bad and True Blood showed a growing global appetite for quality television drama. It was a valuable market that New Zealand’s creative industry could tap into. “Film far outweighs TV in terms of dollars spent on international productions, and that’s the reverse of what happens in many other countries.”

Statistics New Zealand figures show television programme projects contributed $18m to the economy last year compared with $828m by feature films, and $427m by the digital graphics, animation and effects industry.

Film Commission chief executive Graeme Mason said he was keen to see more exportable film and television shows made in New Zealand.

“Any large-scale production working here creates employment and develops skills and careers. It also brings investment to the New Zealand economy and helps build on our already strong reputation for screen work on the international stage.”

TALIA SHADWELL

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