A blog for the New Zealand creative advertising industry, now at www.campaignbrief.com/nz. Email news to: michael@campaignbrief.com

Saturday, January 13, 2007


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."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think ad agencies can partly take the blame for this, by not supporting their suppliers.

For 33 years Silverscreen has been making agencies look good.

Is this a sign of things to come ?

10:43 AM NZDT

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

1:49 PM NZDT

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A sad day but tend to agree with both of the above. Local agencies desperate to use Australians (usually mediocre ones) and unrealistic budgets combined with what Roger says - too any directors fighting over the dismal flotsom of under-budgeted average scripts. Then Silverscreen trying to be too flash - fingers in every pie, fancy offices, high overheads - a dinosaur in todays mean times. A sad day for all... agencies beware - you may end up with no one local to make your ads. Maybe now is the time to 'support local'.

2:08 PM NZDT

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CAANZ has a lot to answer for, they should be fostering and championing NZ talent, instead they want freebies and film companies to cut back on mark-ups.

Hopefully they will wake up and smell the roses before everyone departs to Sydney.

Break the cycle !!

5:36 PM NZDT

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on. Death to freebies. If that charity / mate's tyre shop / scam can't afford an ad then they can't afford an ad. End of story. The only time my agency ever used Silverscreen, they would've made a loss on the job, in the hope of the oft-dangled carrot of Bigger Things to Come. Who do we think we are? It's like being on the school board and getting a painter to do your house for free in the hope of painting the school at full rate... pah!

8:51 PM NZDT

Anonymous Anonymous said...

5.36 and 8.51 - funny how we're quick to blame others for our own misfortunes. Nothing to do with CAANZ or agencies. Silverscreen got it wrong - simple as that. They made the decisions and they are taking responsibility for them (in going into liquidation). Sad to see it happen because they have added a hell of a lot to the industry, and they will be sorely missed.

3:07 PM NZDT

Anonymous Anonymous said...

3.07. Silverscreen went into voluntary liquidation, meaning they should be able to square up the books. Some people would and could trade out of bad times.

They choose not because the industry in so screwed and there is no money in producing advertising anymore. Maybe selling the building will pay alot of bills.

There is only two areas of fault.

Agencies and Industries bodies. The Numbersman comments hit the truth in what he said.
We see that today in every agency. In a nut shell agencies will not hold up any industry standards.

And now i will just reach over and look at my desk and on it is a brief for a 30 sec tvc and the budget is.....'wait for it'....25k and the CD wants an award winning ad. My experience says we need 70-80k.

There ya go.

9:42 AM NZDT

Anonymous Anonymous said...

on time and on budget bro, you might get to stick around and make the next one. unless your CD is a dreamer.

1:11 AM NZDT

Anonymous Geoff Dixon said...

Geoff Dixon – a personal note (sent to NZCC via email):

Hello to All,

Firstly – a personal and deep apology to the industry, creditors, and everyone who has been affected by this terrible situation in which we have found ourselves in.

While times have been tough - not only in our company, but throughout the industry - the truth of these recent events, came as a devastating shock to us all at Silverscreen in New Zealand.

I also apologise for my apparent lack of communication with the many media outlets and creditors that have been wanting some time to talk and discuss as to why this came about. The time and energy this situation has since demanded from me has been overwhelming – and not fit for human consumption! (Give me a client meeting any day).

I would like to thank the friends and colleagues, both here and in Australia, that have given their time to write or call with expressions of sadness and regret –- and the support from others I don’t know, - who have defended me and challenged the cynical and the opportunists that have stood on their soapbox pretending wisdom.

I salute the loyal staff that worked so hard to make it a success – even after 33 years of hard slog, - and I salute the staff and Directors at Silverscreen in Sydney, not forgetting my dear mates Haydn and Tracey, - who have endured the painful consequences. My only real wish is that the industry will continue to support both Oktobor in Auckland and the Directors at Silverscreen in Australia in the near and distant future.

There are many months of work ahead in trying to attend to the detail and consequence of this event, and I would ask for some patience and understanding for now what must be attended to. I would not wish this situation on anybody! I realise this may not be enough for some, who will demand blood where there is none, - but my heart is truly heavy.

If there is anything for our Industry to learn from this, I hope the wise among us will take heed and help instigate change for the better.

Yours Sincerely

Geoff Dixon

2:29 PM NZDT

Anonymous mr stoney broke said...

None of your blogs are obviously from people that Silverscren owe money too ..... Jeff Dixson even gets to blog about his own aticle BUT you didn't publish my comments. As I said before.. Karma is on it way

1:53 PM NZDT


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