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Riding on the back of the Conchords

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Andrea Price with a fan, Aussie actress Rachel Taylor (Transformers, Splinterheads)

Thank you Peter, Bret and Jemaine.

When you’re at a trade festival with 130,000 registrants flowing through one Convention Centre, there’s the fear that one could fall into a large skip filled with left-over promotional material, get stuck for days, and no one would ever notice.

I’m at South By Southwest—SXSW in the vernacular—in Austin, Texas. Each year creatives, techies, film-makers, musicians and pop culture junkies pay up to US$1,000 to attend industry panels and discuss the future and current state of creative industries.

Hollywood A-listers fly in for premieres and pop culture heavyweights like Facebook, Levis, Interscope Records and Perez Hilton throw huge parties. It's all in the name of good publicity and promotion and the playmakers relax and unwind.

The only problem with these parties is that most of them are exclusively invite-only. In order to get on the list you need three things:

  1. To know the party is happening,
  2. The details of the promoters, and
  3. A reason for promoters to put you on the list.

Of all the big names that come to the festival, it’s fair to say mine isn’t one of them. So the chances of getting into these parties seemed pretty slim, but for some reason people readily responded to my emails and my RSVPs are being accepted all over the show. It wasn’t until one promoter wrote about the huge novelty factor of having a New Zealander at their party that I realised I was playing a trump I didn’t even know I had.

While I would like to think it comes down to our country’s finer points, our no-nuclear stance, respectable politics and world class exports, the truth is it’s all thanks to Peter Jackson, Bret and Jemaine.

The combination of LOTR and FOTC creates a pretty mesmerising picture. You’ve got spectacular scenery and an epic trilogy with a heart of gold, mixed with two cute self-deprecating wannabe musicians loved by both men and women alike. Thanks to these three, I’ve been guided around the city, skipped queues, got seemingly impossible interviews and invites to parties that are infinitely cooler than I am. Sure, everyone wants to talk FOTC or act out their favourite scenes, but it’s a small price to pay for the kindness on offer.

The Conchords were a huge hit here in 2006. What TVNZ lost by failing to see their potential, New Zealand tourism and commerce gained many times over when FOTC struck a deal with US network HBO. With such a huge fan base it seems like a great time for our country to be exporting the best of our local entertainment and creating tighter bonds with Ameican websites and publications. Let’s hope we can build on what these Wellingtonians have started. In the meantime, I’m off to check out the attractions at the SXSW parties (aside from the New Zealander, that is).