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Feb 102013

The controversy over sensitive documents around The Hobbit Films continues…

The Ombudsman (An official in the New Zealand Government appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against maladministration.) ordered the Government to release documents about the deal it struck to ensure The Hobbit movies were made in this country.

Radio New Zealand applied for the documents in November 2010 under the Official Information Act but ministers refused on the grounds they were commercially sensitive.

The broadcaster and NZ Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly appealed the decision and on Thursday Ombudsman David McGee ruled that 18 documents, including emails between Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson and Government officials, must be released.  The Government secured the three movies by changing employment laws and beefing up the tax rebate sweetener for the productions. Unions fought the law changes and the Labor Party accused the Government of checkbook legislation.

Warner Bros’ New Line unit is warning an Ombudsman’s ruling that the Government needs to release Hobbit-related documents jeopardizes future film-making in New Zealand. New Line warned: “If the Government is not willing to adequately protect this sensitive information from disclosure, this will operate as a major disincentive to motion picture studios as well as local and foreign talent – to utilize New Zealand as a location for future productions.”

Jackson’s Wingnut Films was quoted in the ruling: “I can categorically assure you that if the above information was released and a similar situation occur in the future, neither myself nor Wingnut Films would be inclined to help the Government again with such a candid level of advice and opinion.”

The Prime Minister has given an assurance the Government is unlikely to block the release of more documents about The Hobbit movies after the Ombudsman ruled they should be made public.

Well…. it looks to me like Peter Jackson has landed smack in the middle of a big political mess.

Personally, I vote with the little guy… I will always side with David rather than Goliath!

I will take the side of the men and women who work hard, but get little recognition. Someone has to fight for the hard workers of this world and though unions are not perfect, without them, big business would take full advantage of those who can’t protect themselves.

However… on the subject of making The Hobbit films, I think Peter Jackson, a creative visionary with a good heart just wants to make his movies.

Unfortunately, Sir Peter Jackson has gotten caught up in the political mechanization of a changing New Zealand economy and political landscape, that oddly enough has been brought on mostly by the world-wide success of the films he has created. The New Zealand economy and it’s tourist profile has received an uncountable boost from the films of Peter Jackson. I believe that in this case the benefits of the agreement made by the New Zealand government far outweigh the negatives.

Unfortunately, the making of these high profile films has become a lighting rod for politicians bent on change.

Enemies were made during the political fight in the last few years over the politics of unions, workers, corporations and government. Some feel like Newline Cinema took advantage  of the good will of the New Zealand production of the Lord of the Rings and lawsuits were brought, to make sure they paid out the rightful share to the actors and those behind the scenes in the making of these films. Peter Jackson was a big supporter of his New Zealand filming crew during these disputes.

I think this opposition of big business and workers rights gave rise to the need for changes in the political landscape of the New Zealand economy. I fully side with the need to protect workers rights… I just think that in this case, it’s more about politics and settling old scores.

When these documents are released… and it looks likely that they will be, we should be prepared for some unsettling comments made during these sensitive negotiations. I’m sure that all politicians involved, will uses those words and blow them up large to push forward their agenda!

I’m just sorry Peter Jackson, who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body is being dragged into this. However, in an interview I read about Peter Jackson, he said that being a filmmaker means you have to be a fighter. I have no doubt the no matter what happens, Peter Jackson will continue to fight to bring his vision of Middle-earth to life for all of us to enjoy!

Source: Radio New Zealand

 February 10, 2013  Posted by at 11:28 am

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