Saturday, January 13, 2007

KIWI INDUSTRY IN SHOCK AS SILVERSCREEN NZ GOES INTO VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION

After 33 years at the top, NZ's biggest and most famous tvc production company, Silverscreen, co owned by legendary director, Geoff Dixon, has gone into voluntary liquidation. According to a source, this does not affect Silverscreen in Sydney or post production shop Oktobor in Auckland.

This from the Dominion Post...

Silverscreen Productions (NZ), one of the country's largest television advertisement production companies, is in voluntary liquidation.
Liquidator Meltzer Mason Heath say it is not yet clear how much the company owes but up to 13 New Zealand-based staff may be affected by the decision.
Industry sources told The Press there were concerns that hundreds of film contractors could also feel the effects of the liquidation.
Silverscreen Productions (NZ) director Geoff Dixon made a brief announcement about going into liquidation yesterday.
"The reasons for this decision have been because of reduced production budgets apparent throughout the industry, coupled with reduced margins that the company has recently had to endure and the unlikelihood of improvement in the near future," he said.
The company has been producing television advertisements in New Zealand since 1974. It is owned by Dixon and Wellington-based John Fokerd.
The company is responsible for large numbers of the advertisements screened on New Zealand television and has a strong international presence, working for big names such as Telecom, Toyota, L and P, and Jenny Craig.
It has claimed several industry awards including the production company of the year at the 2005 Axis awards.
The New Zealand Film and Video Technicians Guild president, Alun Bollinger, said he was saddened but not surprised by the news.
"The whole commercial scene has been changing over recent years because there are so many different platforms for advertising. The commercial dollars are getting spread out a bit more.
"I suspect there's a lot of smaller production houses around that can contract when there's no work, but Silverscreen can't because it's a big player. I suspect it has a bigger budget."
Those owed money by the company would be most seriously affected, but there would still be work around, Bollinger said. "If the work's not going to Silverscreen but the job's there, it will go somewhere. It probably won't affect the industry as a whole."

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A difficult time for many in the Industry. Coming from a Prod Co in Australia, I wish to comment on Geoff's neverending enthusiasm, innovation, encouragement within the industry, and tireless effort for creative excellence. I am sure he and his people will move on to successful future endeavours. Cheers to all the fabulous work produced and contributions made to both the NZ & OZ Industry. A bitch but onwards & upwards I'm sure !

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clients want it cheaper. Agencies want it cheaper. Welcome to advertising in the 21st Century!

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloody Hell.

Now look what you've done, advertising agencies! Cheaper, more and more please, and can you make that a bit more cheaper too. Oh, and did I say we want a little more from you? and cheap too?

we reap what we sow.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A difficult time for many in the industry indeed. The sad reality is that not all talented people are able to move on to successful future endeavours. Our industry is getting leaner by the day and consequently many are bowing out. How ironic that there's an Award School article under this one. Just what we need, more creatives looking for work. Think I'm wrong? I caught up with an award winning creative the other day who's currently working in, of all places, a call centre. What a waste. A casual glance at the back pages of Ad News shows there are still lots of openings for suits to talk about making ads though. It's all back to front.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Roger Tompkins said...

So after thirty-three years Silverscreen Productions has announced its voluntary liquidation - sad but not surprising.

Silverscreen started as a one-director company with the hugely talented Geoff Dixon working out of his living room. It eventually grew into an amorphus group of companies with fingers in many pies: production, design, post-production, Internet, TV and feature films: all many steps away from its core business…

What is the core business of a tvc production company? I thought it was to offer the services of a talented and experienced director to the advertising industry in order to make iconic commercials that capture the audience’s attention for their clients’ brands.

However, the current trend with production companies is to spruik the fact that they are the biggest, the best, have the greatest flashest offices, are the most awarded, sponsor the best lunches/parties etc ….

Production companies seem to have forgotten that they work in the world’s second oldest profession and that it doesn’t take flash offices and hundreds of staff to run a successful production company - it takes talented, experienced directors supported by producers who can bring good work in, on budget.

The current trend is to offer a huge roster of mostly mediocre directors, one for every mediocre script!

Even if there were that much talent around, the investment in promoting planeloads of directors and the cost of on-the-job training is huge. Problem is, clients have slashed budgets and margins, while expectations have stayed where they’ve always been: high. It is simply not possible for these two trends to continue side by side.

In Silverscreen’s case, it has not only hung on for dear life in this unsustainable environment, it has added more volatile and unpredictable businesses to the mix with its forays into special effects post-production and feature films.

Its demise, as I said at the beginning, is sad but not surprising. But there are many players that owe it a huge debt of gratitude, myself included. The list is long of those that have benefited from their association with Silverscreen, however brief: LeeTamahori, Richard Gibson, Matt Murphy, Mat Palmer and Messer’s Prince, Noonan, Long, Whyman and Douglas to name but a few…

….. and if I were one of the many poor souls owning a production company, big or small and worried that the next call is going to be the bloody bank again I’d be looking very very carefully at the bottom line (I know I did…in the end!!)


Happy New Year

Roger Tompkins
Cranbrook

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes. well. speaking as one of the poor souls who is waiting for the next call (bank or otherwise) I can agree with Roger's points - except one. Producers don't bring in work, boys. Directors - or more accurately their reels - do. and even then, if you're not front of mind all the time (sponsorships, ads, etc) then the creatives don't choose to anoint you. Oh, and being based in Sydney. That always helps.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Creatives could try maybe try pulling their head out of their own arses and diversify into direct or trhough the line roles, at least they'd have more chance of staying employed as creatives and could continue on the awards winning spree....?

7:50 AM  
Blogger Captain Obvious said...

Easier said than done 7.50AM. Direct roles, especially senior ones, require applicants to have solid direct experience, meaning you need a book that demonstrates a flair for mostly crap ideas that are completely ineffective. Anyone with a good book has buckley's chance landing a role in a DM shop.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Captain I have to disagree. The only difference with direct is that it's targeted to audience, direct i sanything that engages the consumer one to one, the sooner mainstream dinosaurs realise that the better.

As for a good book and buckely's chance, if mainstream creatives could come up with bigger ideas and learn how to use a wider scope of media, well then they'd get it.

Examples, Lynx Jet, Virgin Warren, CPBs work for Mini, half the stuff on TV is shit and press aint exactly kicking either - as more and more consumers switch off we've got to fund another way to reach em'.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s a sad day for NZ.
Historically, Geoff Dixon and “Silverscreen” raised the productions Values and standards of the TVC in NZ to an important cultural level. Geoff’s standards were the benchmark of the industry and he had few competitors. All who work in the New Zealand film industry have benefited from these values and all who were lucky enough to have worked with or for Geoff, found them selves in a one of the most generous and creative environments available to any filmmaker anywhere.
I’m sure there are a few tall poppy hunters waxing lyrically on “Silverscreens” demise.. Filmmaking in all its disguises, has always been a risky business, more so now as the industry worldwide is facing huge changes with media diversification, less advertising dollars on television, more well trained crews vying for the same jobs, more production companies buying jobs for their directors reels, more advertising agencies with less creative and financial clout and a lessening of creative standards overall.
There are no winners here, but some great lessons for all. Hopefully the agencies have some cultural concept of advertising other than just the bottom line, and the kiwi commercial filmmakers are in it for more than their paychecks, otherwise you may all be in trouble.
RP

2:26 PM  

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