Telling stories an enduring passion
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.’’
Gibson Group owners Allan Smith and Brett Tompkins.
Gibson Group founder Dave Gibson designed the OurSpace interactive exhibition at Te Papa.