Telling sto­ries an en­dur­ing pas­sion

The Dominion Post - - Business - CHLOE WIN­TER

A Welling­ton pro­duc­tion com­pany with ties to Mar­garet Mahy, Sir Richard Tay­lor and Taika Waititi is cel­e­brat­ing 40 years in busi­ness.

Gib­son Group, which was founded by Dave Gib­son and Yvonne McKay, has been work­ing on screen pro­duc­tions, ex­hi­bi­tions, and in­ter­ac­tive vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ences since 1977.

One of the com­pany’s best­known ex­hi­bi­tions was the OurS­pace pro­ject at Te Papa which opened in 2008, where vis­i­tors could ma­nip­u­late im­ages and videos around a 14-me­tre in­ter­ac­tive wall.

The firm has pro­duced more than 160 screen pro­duc­tions, in­clud­ing Pass­chen­daele (Spurred on), Prison Fam­i­lies, and Bul­lies .It has also de­signed and de­vel­oped a gi­ant in­ter­ac­tive video wall dubbed Touch City.

Gib­son Group co-owner Al­lan Smith said the com­pany had grown, and changed, a lot over the past 40 years.

‘‘It was started as a pas­sion for film­mak­ing and that has grown and ma­tured into a fas­ci­na­tion with how sto­ries can be told in dif­fer­ent ways and how we can reach dif­fer­ent au­di­ences.

‘‘The first pro­duc­tions were on 16mm [film] which was the stan­dard for a long time, and it was ini­tially ed­u­ca­tional films,’’ he said.

‘‘But over time, the tele­vi­sion cli­mate has changed dra­mat­i­cally … and the whole scene now is com­pletely dif­fer­ent.’’

In say­ing that, the ‘‘love of telling sto­ries in re­ally in­ter­est­ing and new ways’’ had stuck with them, Smith said.

One of the chal­lenges of run­ning a pro­duc­tion com­pany was that it was pro­ject-based, he said.

‘‘That can be quite chal­leng­ing be­cause you don’t have a prod­uct line that you can sketch the sales for for the next five years, in­stead it’s, ‘Where’s our next pro­ject’?’’

The com­pany had clients in New Zealand, but also around the world, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia and the United States, he said.

Co-owner and se­nior pro­ducer Brett Tomp­kins said this global reach meant they were con­stantly work­ing with tal­ented peo­ple.

One of their first jobs was in New Caledonia work­ing in a space that had been de­signed by worl­drenowned Ital­ian ar­chi­tect Renzo Pi­ano, he said.

‘‘Not many peo­ple get the op­por­tu­nity to have those ex­pe­ri­ences and we’ve had the chance to work with some real char­ac­ters over the pe­riod of 40 years.’’

The com­pany em­ployed about 10 full­time staff, how­ever, they con­tracted more staff as needed, he said.

Tomp­kins be­lieved the com­pany’s fu­ture would in­volve more tourism projects.

‘‘The fu­ture for us is we are just go­ing to keep adapt­ing and rein­vent­ing our­selves.

‘‘We re­ally like to push the bound­aries, and do things no one else has done be­fore. No pro­ject is too scary.’’

Smith said they would con­tinue to do more and more ‘‘gen­rebend­ing’’ projects.

‘‘There’s a cross­over be­tween the gen­res, so what we are see­ing more and more is the in­ter­ac­tive vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence side of things ac­tu­ally meet­ing the tra­di­tional screen story-telling genre, and that will con­tinue.’’

PHOTO: CAMERON BURNELL/STUFF

Gib­son Group own­ers Al­lan Smith and Brett Tomp­kins.

PHOTO: CRAIG SIMCOX/STUFF

Gib­son Group founder Dave Gib­son de­signed the OurS­pace in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tion at Te Papa.

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