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DEGNZ Best Director and Best Editor Goes to…

Best Director Armagan Ballantyne with DEGNZ President Howard Taylor

Congratulations to our member Armağan Ballantyne for taking home the DEGNZ Best Director award for her short film Hush, presented at the Show Me Shorts 2019 Auckland Opening & Awards Night on October 5th. Hush tells the story of Ava, a young woman who surprises her brother and friends when she suddenly turns up in her small home town with a secret.

Congratulations to Annie Collins for winning DEGNZ Best Editor for 16-minute thriller . In the film, a pregnant woman finds herself alone and in a dangerous situation with a violent gang member.

Annie told the audience that she will be giving her space on stage to emerging editors from now on – short films should be cut by emerging editors. Annie continues to be a mentor to many and lead DEGNZ’s efforts for editors and assistant editors.

 

Annie Collins with DEGNZ President Howard Taylor

Past Winners:

The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ has proudly supported excellence in directing and editing at Show Me Shorts since 2009.

 

2018 DEGNZ Best Director Summer Agnew – The Brother
DEGNZ Best Editor Betsy Bauer – Cleaver
2017 DEGNZ Best Director Zoe McIntosh – The World in Your Window
DEGNZ Best Editor Tom Eagles – Do No Harm
2016 DEGNZ Best Director Ned Wenlock – Spring Jam
DEGNZ Best Editor Bryan Shaw – Shout at the Ground
2015 DEGNZ Best Director Alyx Duncan – The Tide Keeper
DEGNZ Best Editor James Cunningham – Accidents, Blunders and Calamities
2014 DEGNZ Best Director Hamish Bennett – Ross & Beth
2013 SDGNZ Best Director Joe Lonie – Honk If You’re Horny
SDGNZ Best Editor Thomas Gleeson – Home
2012 SDGNZ Best Director Sam Kelly – Lambs
SDGNZ Best Editor Jeff Hurrell – Lambs
2011 SDGNZ Best Director Jack Woon – The Great Barrier
SDGNZ Best Editor Lewis Albrow – 3 Hours
2010 SDGNZ Best Director Mark Albiston & Louis Sutherland – The Six Dollar Fifty Man
SDGNZ Best Editor Hayley Lake – Make Me
2009 SDGNZ Best Director James Cunningham – Poppy
SDGNZ Best Editor Paul Swadel and James Cunningham – Poppy

Photos courtesy of Show Me Shorts.

To Be or Not to Be? That Was the Question.

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Almost a year ago, the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ membership voted to become a union. At this year’s AGM on Saturday 5 October, DEGNZ will adopt a new constitution that will allow the Guild to formalise its status as a union and affiliate with the Council of Trade Unions.

I thought it worthwhile to provide some background information that will help members to better understand what this change of status is all about.

In trawling the Interweb to find background material to write this op-ed, I came across a two-part article from US entertainment lawyer Christopher Shiller that has essentially done the job for me. Yes, it applies to the US situation for the screen industry but it’s very pertinent to us, particularly with the changes that will come about from the Film Industry Working Group recommendations to Government that DEGNZ was a part of.

Here are the links to that two-part series.

Legally Speaking, It Depends – Guild or Union, Part 1

Legally Speaking, It Depends – Guild or Union, Part 2

At our AGM, the NZ Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff will give an overview of the CTU and speak to the CTU’s perspective on the work being done by the Film Industry Working Group to address the inequities of the Hobbit Law.

I encourage you all to read the articles from the links, and to attend the AGM — this will be a momentous occasion for DEGNZ in regard to its work to ensure the creative, cultural and financial wellbeing of New Zealand directors and editors. Please RSVP to attend the AGM here.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive DIrector

Are We Missing the Streamer Boat?

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It’s hard not to bang on about streaming services when they are continuing to upend the screen industry as we know it.

Media intelligence service FilmTake recently reported that Disney, WarnerMedia, and Apple are expected to spend between US$8 million to $20 million per episode on new drama series.

Amazon has supposedly set aside over a billion US dollars to bring a five-season Lord of the Rings series to Amazon Prime.

There are other epics planning to cash-in on the void left after the conclusion of Game of Thrones include WarnerMedia’s Dune series, Showtime’s Halo, and Apple’s fantasy series See.

Disney+ is also producing a Star Wars series, Mandalorian, which is costing $15 million per episode.

And these are just the TV blockbusters.

The Financial Times reported that in Europe, Netflix will make 221 projects in 2019, including 153 originals.

Netflix has launched its first European production hub in Madrid, targeting Spanish-language production and drama series, which have been a priority and a large source of success for the U.S. streaming giant.

In July of this year, it also announced that it is creating a dedicated production hub, featuring 14 sound stages, workshops and office space, at Shepperton Studios in the United Kingdom.

In the last year alone, over 25,000 cast, crew and extras have worked on almost 40 Netflix originals and co-productions across Britain.

New Zealand is certainly not missing out on service production for streamers as witnessed most recently by the noise about the Lord of The Rings TV Series potentially being shot here for Amazon. Netflix has already been here with Letter For the King and is currently shooting another.

But are we missing the boat with local IP to satisfy the booming global appetite for content, particularly drama?

Yes, local producers do continue to sell their NZ ON Air and TMP funded content internationally, but that’s been the case for many years now.

NZ formats for the international market have made headway, as most recently attested to by Filthy Productions’ sale of Filthy Rich to the Fox Network.

It’s easy to forget that Rob Tapert has been making TV shows here for the international market for over 25 years—everything from Hercules and Xena to Spartacus and Ash vs Evil Dead.

But there’s nothing new in all this, as it was happening prior to the advent of Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) services like Netflix and Amazon.

While NZ On Air continues to do the best it can with limited funds for local drama, it’s essentially locked into a myopic approach by its adherence to the Broadcasting Act, and it doesn’t look like it will change that anytime soon.

But there is a little light at the end of the tunnel.

Screentime has forged into Scandi Noir with its Danish coproduction Straight Forward, now on TVNZ OnDemand, and its soon to be released copro The Gulf, with Paula Boock and Donna Malane’s Lippy Pictures and a German partner.

And we have seen one Netflix Original in Auckland-based Razor Films’ Dark Tourist, while See-Saw Films and Jump TV are into their second series of The New Legends of Monkey for the ABC, TVNZ and Netflix. Almost going unnoticed is Pango Production’s 2018 production All Or Nothing: New Zealand All Blacks for Amazon Prime.

But really! Can we survive the onslaught of service production work from streamers in New Zealand and get our own IP out there in more than an occasional way?

There are a number of factors holding us back and one of them is writers. We don’t have enough skilled writers with the experience required to get internationally-focused shows across the line. The NZFC/NZ On Air Raupapa Whakaari Series Drama Lab initiative is seeking to address this by bringing in international-calibre mentors to work on local show ideas with teams here. Hopefully this will bear fruit.

Another is lack of funding. NZ On Air production funding caps out at $6 million, and you can’t access the NZ Screen Production Grant and NZ On Air Funding for the same project. When even middle-of-the-road Aussie shows are being made for the international market at AUD $1.5 to 2 million or more per episode for 6 to 10 eps, you can see the problem. But before you get to production you have to go through development, and the cost for that is going to be anywhere between $300,000 to $500,000. Again, there’s not the funding here for that. Raupapa Whakaari’s matched funding is limited to NZ$50,000 per year.

You might well ask why do we need to create our own IP anyway, and not just be service providers for international productions?

For directors and editors there’s going to be more work on local shows than international ones. The post production is generally not done here for international shows, and there’s only a very small pool of Kiwi directors with the credits to get themselves hired on international productions. That will expand slowly over time, but local shows hire locals, and we are increasing the numbers of Kiwi directors working on NZ On Air dramas.

In the end though, it’s our distinctiveness as Kiwis with Kiwi stories to tell and landscapes to show that provides cut through in the international market. I’m paraphrasing Paula Boock of Lippy Pictures who participated on our Screenlink panel this week along with Mark McNeill of Razor Films and Steven Zanoski of Filthy Productions to discuss ‘Screen Content for the Global Market’. Locally owned IP also brings revenues back to New Zealand when it’s successful, long after production has finished.

I don’t think we are going to miss the boat entirely when it comes to creating our own shows for the streaming giants. But it does sometimes seem like we are standing at the end of the pier watching the ship sailing away and wondering how the hell we are going to get onboard.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

 

Directing Masterclass with Sophie Hyde

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Animals

DEGNZ is excited to present a Directing Masterclass with Australian director/producer Sophie Hyde on Saturday 27 July in Auckland.

In this interactive Masterclass, Sophie will share on how she came to be making film and television and how her projects are able to develop and thrive within the film collective she works within. Participants will look at case studies on the making of feature films 52 Tuesdays and Animals, and series F*!#ing Adelaide and The Hunting

Sophie will discuss what the big challenges have been, about tackling doubts and keeping self-motivated and rigorous during development and through production. The Masterclass will get directors to think about what’s important to them and how this will help them navigate their own projects.

We invite directors to apply now.

About Sophie Hyde

Sophie’s debut fiction film 52 Tuesdays (director/producer/co-writer) won the directing award in World Cinema Dramatic at Sundance and the Crystal Bear at the Berlinale. Her second film Animals, based on Emma Jane Unsworth’s acclaimed novel, premiered at Sundance 2019. Her first episodic series F*!#ing Adelaide, created for ABC iView screened at Berlin Film Festival and Series Mania in 2018. She produced and co-directed acclaimed documentary Life in Movement, winner of the Australian Documentary Prize in 2011 and the Cinedans Jury and Audience prizes.

She also works as a Producer and believes strongly in nurturing new voices. She was recently mentor and executive producer on A Field Guide to Being A 12-year-old-girl, which won the short film Crystal Bear at Berlin last year. She produced Matt Bate’s feature documentaries Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure and Sam Klemke’s Time Machine, and Maya Newell’s In My Blood It Runs. She has just finished production as creator/director/producer of The Hunting, a 4×1 hour series for SBS.

Animals screens at the New Zealand International Film Festival 2019. Sophie will be attending Q+A screenings in Auckland.

Masterclass Details

Price: DEGNZ members/NAW Full members – Free, Non-members $95. Lunch and refreshments provided.

When: Sat 27 July, 9am – 5pm

Where: Saint Columba Centre, 40 Vermont St, Ponsonby, Auckland

After the masterclass, DEGNZ Full members attending from outside the Auckland region can apply for a travel allowance of up to $250.

How to Apply

Application Deadline: 9AM, Friday 19 July 2019

STEP 1: Complete the application form below.

STEP 2: Send your filmography OR CV with filmography in PDF to tema@degnz.co.nz.

Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

 

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This workshop is brought to you with the generous support of the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society and the New Zealand Film Commission.

ASDACS logo       NZFC

Geoff Murphy, Iconoclastic Filmmaker

When Geoff Murphy died last week, he left a film industry very different from the one that he entered in the 1970s. In those days it couldn’t be called an industry – just a bunch of mates trying to make movies. Geoff was at the forefront of the renaissance and deserves the accolades bestowed later in life: a lifetime achievement award at the Moa New Zealand Film Awards, one of twenty Arts Foundation “arts icons”, New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2014 Queen’s New Year Honours.

Colourful, irreverent, his anti-authoritarianism was a badge of honour to the end, his signature gesture an up-thrust middle finger to the establishment. I remember, a decade ago, sitting with him on the porch of his man-cave in Holloway Road as, a roll-your-own stuck to his lip (Diane wouldn’t let him smoke inside) he carved miniature cannons for his model warships and railed against the mendacious moguls of Hollywood and bumbling bureaucrats of Wellington.

A budding teaching career didn’t have a hope when he discovered jazz, drugs and Bruno Lawrence. They created BLERTA – Bruno Lawrence’s Electric Revelation and Traveling Apparition. A bunch of hippy musos, partners, their kids and assorted hangers-on toured the country in their bus jolting the locals awake with a crazy mix of theatre, jazz, rock, pyrotechnics and psychedelics. And film. They were experimenting with film in their concerts and from this grew their first films – Wild Man and Dagg Day Afternoon.

Some of the BLERTA crew – including Alun Bollinger, Martyn Sanderson, Bruno and Geoff – put their 60s principles into practice scraping together enough to buy some land at Waimarama and establishing a commune focussed around making music and movies.

With no money and no gear, they built their own. He and Andy Grant built the first camera crane in the country. His very kiwi ability to find creative solutions to problems stood him in good stead all his career.

In 1981 I remember coming out of a screening of Goodbye Pork Pie with a silly grin on my face. It was this tongue-in-cheek road movie that established Geoff as New Zealand’s pre-eminent action director and Alun Bollinger as a highly-rated cinematographer. The film somehow captured the zeitgeist of the time and New Zealanders took it to their hearts. To Geoff’s surprise it set box-office records that took years to surpass.

His next film, Utu, is regarded by many as his best. Quentin Tarantino possesses an intimate knowledge of New Zealand cinema and Utu is his favourite. However, the cut that was released had been “improved” by the producers and Geoff was not happy. When, in 2013, Nga Taonga Sound and Vision (the NZ Film Archive) was restoring Utu, Geoff was given the chance to recreate his director’s cut. He leapt at the opportunity. The result was released as Utu Redux. More recently Tarantino was putting together a season of screenings of his favourite films. He rang Geoff to ask for permission to screen Utu and explained that he needed a 35ml print. Geoff insisted he screen the Redux version and when he realized that they could only access a 16ml print of Redux, and Quentin would have to screen the original version, Geoff withdrew permission.

After Quiet Earth Geoff headed to Hollywood to work on action block-busters like Young Guns II, Freejack, Under Seige II and The Last Outlaw. Despite mixing with Hollywood royalty, Geoff, ever the outlaw himself, refused to be impressed by fame. His battered Toyota station-wagon stood out among the Ferraris and Bentleys in the studio carpark.

By this time he had left both his wife Pat and long-time lover Diane and married film-maker Merata Mita. Their son Hepi remembers growing up in Hollywood: “Mickey O’Rourke used to hang out on our couch. One day Mick Jagger rang and invited us down to stay on Mustique, his Caribbean island, so off we went. Dad and Mick got on like a house on fire.”

When Peter Jackson invited Murphy to be second unit director on the Rings trilogy, he returned to Wellington where he moved in with old flame Diane Kearns. A solid unit, they were together till the end.

In 2009 I had the privilege of working with Geoff on Tales of Mystery and Imagination, a genre-bending music film based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe with music by Lucien Johnson.

In 2014 his last film was released: Spooked, a cyber-thriller starring Cliff Curtis.

Despite his time in Hollywood, he was very clear about both the difference between Hollywood and New Zealand films, and his identity as primarily a New Zealand film-maker telling “our stories”.

He is survived by his brothers John and Roy, and a number of children, several of whom are in the screen industry – Robin (production manager and producer), Paul (director – Second Hand Wedding, Lovebirds), Matt (director – Pork Pie – the remake), Linus, Miles (director – commercials and short films), Heperi (director – Te Taki A Merata Mita – How Mum Decolonised The Screen), Rafer, Richard, Rhys, Awatea, and step children Joe and Paul Kearns.

 

Howard Taylor
President

8 December 2018