New Zealand Television Workshop explained by Clive Court, its founder

Television Mail, April 30. 1963

BASICALLY, it is a creative pool of talent from which TV producers can draw ideas and commission work to aid their own productions.

It is not a ‘theatre workshop.' It is not for training actors. This clears up the biggest misconception of all-and one that has hampered the Workshop's progress to date. However, actors are always welcome to join the TV Workshop groups to learn, about television as a medium-its limitations and its possibilities. They can learn about film making. scenic design, scriptwriting, floor management. public relations and programme promotion. but we cannot teach them acting for television for three very good reasons:

  1. 1. We have no studio training facilities.
  2. 2. We have no instructors with enough experience in TV drama or production.
  3. 3. At present there is no demand for actors in television as permanent employees (accept as announcers).

Now, having got that off my chest, I will follow a more positive line.

The TV Workshop was started to promote and encourage the development of New Zealand's potential television talent to the highest possible standards. And this promotion and encouragement can use all forms of mass-communication to achieve the desired result.

The TV Workshop is a community organisation which encourages an active audience interest in the production standards and future possibilities of television communication.

The Workshop seeks to establish a sympathetic atmosphere where people working in television can meet people interested in the medium--an atmosphere of creative freedom where ideas can flourish without fear of ridicule. Writers. designers, film makers, performers and producers can all meet socially and determine by friendly discussion what they want to achieve and how they ill achieve it. Producers will find talent-and talent will find producers.

In such an atmosphere of creative freedom New Zealand could lead the TV world by example. Such a simple idea-but so difficult to accomplish.

What we need in television today are more people with visually stimulated imaginations. This alone will go a long way to help combat the insidious pop-agenda that gradually pervades the morals of each younger generation, making the parents' task more difficult. All over the English speaking world, television-Iike radio-has become ‘pop' polluted. For example, in light entertainment, the ‘sound' or popular recording talent has almost driven visual entertainers (the best potential television performers) into obscurity. It takes a producer of real vision and ability to winkle out this talent and develop it for television. Unfortunately, there are far to few of this calibre-anywhere.

New Zealand seems to be the ideal 'battle ground' or turning point. If we can bring the visual content back into television entertainment we can set an example for the rest of the English-speaking world. And we can persuade them that we have something new! Something they missed in the rush!

So the New Zealand TV Workshop sets out. quite deliberately, to encourage TV producers to develop the country's visual talent--playwrights, visual writers. comedy writers, scenic designers, cartoonists, film makers, comedians, puppeteers, ventriloquists, magicians. impressionists. dancers, jugglers, acrobats, etcetera.

The Workshop also encourages new programming ideas, more original formats and higher standards in design, scriptwriting ad product ion. it is also a most important part of our job to help the viewers appreciate these standards and take a active interest in this vital medium of Communication, education and entertainment.

The Workshop promotes the use of television as an educational force in the community-believing that such an effective form of person-to-person communication is far too important to be continually frittered away on Westerns, old movies and pop-song shows.

By the end of this decade. New Zealanders will be a partner in a very powerful global TV network -so we must have something really worthwhile to offer the rest of the world apart from Outside Broadcasts of Rugby, Rotorua and Milford Sound.

At present we need volunteers for all kinds of jobs - secretarial work. researchers, information officers, copy writers, scriptwriters. designers and instructors. TV Workshop is not a commercial organisation. The benefit New Zealanders derive from it will be proportionate to the effort they invest.

Our greatest ambition is to establish community closed-circuit TV training studios in each main centre. Of course, a television Training College or Mass Communications Institute would be our wildest dream.

Every country eventually gets the kind of TV it deserves. Hence, ours depends completely on New Zealanders' response.

TV “Workshop” Gets Started

July 1963, Clive Close with TV Workshop model TV camera

10/8/1963 The Dominion

An ambitious TV community venture claimed to be the first in the Southern Hemisphere made its debut in Wellington this week.

Its name: New Zealand Television Workshop. its aim: To help people who want work in television to become a sort of community training ground for all kinds of TV talent.

The Workshop may be New Zealand’s way of filling the need for elementary training of TV talent.

The founders hope 4 give practical encouragement and assistance to the stage where their members can walk with some confidence to the TV studio door. 

If the idea catches on in Wellington, workshops may be started in the other main centres.
Inaugurated by.four men with some background of television requirements, the Workshop can be likened in some aspects to a kind of amateur theatrical group with a difference—and a big difference at that.

45 Came

Its first meeting attracted 45 people, many of whom showed surprising enthusiasm to get on with the job. A second meeting was called for next week. 

Brainchild of Mr. Clive Court, who says he is making a four-year study of Commonwealth TV, Workshop is completely independent of the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. 

Some NZBC staff attended Wednesday night’s meeting as interested persons: and in fact several of the inaugural four work for the corporation. 

Corporation reaction to the Workshop’s birth is at this stage cold and cautious, and for this it cannot be blamed. But it would be folly to dismiss the effort, if Workshop got off the ground.

It showed on Wednesday night it has the potential. A film on the B.B.C’s first 25 years followed a talk by Mr.R. A. Hall, floor manager at WNTV1, who is leaving for Britain later this week. Discussion followed. —M.B, Dominon Herald, Wellington.

NZBC Floor Manager gives first TV Workshop lecture

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