Experts agree: the story still matters

21 August 2014

Winter Lecture Series

Faces of entertainment: L-R Julie Thomas, Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones, Jesse Mulligan, Associate Professor Geoff Lealand and Megan Whelan at the 20 August lecture.

The future is looking bright for all things entertainment, with a mixture of traditional and new mediums changing the landscape of media consumption for the better.

That was the view of a panel of speakers, facilitated by alumnus and television presenter Jesse Mulligan, at the University of Waikato’s third Winter Lecture Series.

A night at the movies

According to one of the speakers at the 20 August event, the University of Waikato’s Associate Professor Geoff Lealand, the New Zealand movie industry is on the up, with movies such as The Dark Horse and What We Do in the Shadows proving popular with Kiwi film-goers.

For Associate Professor Lealand, nothing beats going to the movies. Small towns like Tirau, Te Awamutu and Cambridge are staging a resistance of sorts against movie downloading with their old-fashioned, boutique movie theatres – attracting movie-goers in droves.

“There’s still nothing like gathering in a darkened place, with a group of people at a set time, for a larger-than-life experience. That’s what movies are about – not watching them on your laptop.”

Getting yourself published

Cambridge-based author Julie Thomas, who also spoke at the lecture, said it was completely possible to publish a novel online, despite the six million or so e-books currently in circulation. “The chances of cutting through are small – but they are there,” she said.

Ms Thomas is one of those who “cut through”. She uploaded her first novel, The Keeper of Secrets, to Amazon in September 2011, and in May 2012 was approached by Harper Collins US, who wanted to publish it in paperback.

A combination of favourable reviews online and lots of personal promotion on Ms Thomas’ part, saw The Keeper of Secrets go to the top of the e-book bestseller list. Harper Collins US picked up on the success and published the book with an initial print run of 125,000. It’s now published in eight international markets.

News in a digital age

And while the internet is changing the ways we consume material, it’s still the story that matters.

Megan Whelan, Senior Producer at The Wireless and the final presenter at the lecture, said The Wireless tries to take information and make it more accessible to a young audience – whether that’s through videos, illustrations or articles.

The Wireless is owned by Radio New Zealand and was created to cater to people who had grown up in the digital age.

“We know that young people aren’t listening to Radio New Zealand National or Concert, but that doesn’t mean they don’t necessarily want to know what’s happening,” said Ms Whelan.

News content might be viewed through Twitter or Facebook, but it’s still being viewed – and that’s what counts. “Content is still important. Ultimately we’re telling stories – they’re just accessible in a wider variety of ways.”

Winter Lecture Series

The final lecture in the University of Waikato Winter Lecture Series, on 27 August, takes a look at what Hamilton can learn from cities that have gone through a successful revitalisation process. It features Canadian Neil Everson, who led the revitalisation of Hamilton, Ontario; Hamilton property developer Andrew Yeoman and Professor of Demography at the University of Waikato, Natalie Jackson.

The lecture takes place at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, from 6-7pm, with the Opus Bar open from 5pm, and is free and open to the public. 

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