Clive Spink: Pukeko Pictures is an independent entertainment production company focused on the development and production of world-class multi-platform entertainment for a global audience. The company was founded in 2008 by Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Martin Baynton with the purpose of bringing high value storytelling and high quality production values to the children’s and family audience. The single largest market in the world, China, for us is a game changer as an industry and has been a key territory for the development of media and entertainment businesses.
The challenges that Pukeko was facing was in finding a Chinese partner interested in developing intellectual property that would work in both the China and New Zealand market. It was also important to find a partner that could extend the brand beyond just the TV program we were producing into other brand extensions like location based experiences, consumer products, publishing, and digital outcomes like augmented reality. As NZTE suggested as a solution for Pukeko in its move into China was to invest considerably in terms of time and resources on the ground in China. It was important to develop the relationships that we had there and find exactly the right company or group of companies to form a commercial relationship with.
The International Growth Fund provided us with much needed resources and support that allowed us to spend significant amounts of time on the ground in China. This enabled to do right research, complete due diligence and develop relationships that are so vital to doing any business in China, ultimately ensuring we found the right partners to enter into a long-term strategic relationship with.
I think the thing that really surprised me was the time required on the ground. Personally I spent over eight times travelling to China last year along with my senior management but you needed to also participate in various conferences, trade shows and government delegations to show your level of support to the Chinese partners and market. The other thing that was unbelievable was the scale of pace and resources and just scale of the market in China. I think until you’ve actually been in market you don’t necessarily appreciate those things.
Building business relationships across countries is always challenging, you know with language and cultural but numerous visits to China hosting Chinese delegations in New Zealand has allowed us to learn a lot about Chinese culture, Chinese norms and practices. One of the things that is very important is just learning a few phrases of Chinese. I have presented at a couple of events and almost got a standing ovation when I said wǒ ài zhōngguó, that means “I love China.” One of the other big learnings we had was that along the way there are certain points where both parties have to take a leap of faith. Those leaps of faith actually strengthen the relationship so it’s important to recognise those points as you move along the relationship.
The advice I’d have for the creative and film industry is we need to utilise the willingness of both governments to see partnerships and growth potential between our two countries in this industry. This is evident by the New Zealand screen grant system and the television co-production treaty between China and New Zealand and there has been recognition at both government levels that this level of cultural and film industry co-operation is something that they heavily support.
I would strongly recommend working with NZTE, it has been a really positive experience for us at Pukeko. They are an amazing leading government organisation who are actively engaged in China and provide a level of resources both locally on the ground here and in market which has been beneficial to us.