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Masterclass with Thom Zimny at NZIFF 2019

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Director Thom Zimny

Film director Thom Zimny (The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash) will lead a Masterclass for filmmakers in Auckland as part of NZIFF 2019.

This is the second time NZIFF has been able to provide a Masterclass designed for industry practitioners, thanks to an Artistic Development Partnership with Creative New Zealand. The Masterclass will take place on Thursday 1 August and will be run by the Directors & Editors Guild of New Zealand (DEGNZ) on behalf of NZIFF.

Thom Zimny, known for his award-winning documentaries, will take filmmakers inside his process from the research phase through to the edit with special focus on the edit process. Works discussed will include The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley: The Searcher.

Masterclass attendees are encouraged to see The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash at NZIFF beforehand (Tuesday 30 July or Wednesday 31 July).

Limited tickets for the Masterclass are on sale from Ticketmaster.

Masterclass with Thom Zimny

Thursday 1 August 2.00pm to 5.30pm

Venue: WG701, WG Building, AUT City Campus, 55 Wellesley Street East, Auckland Central 1010

Ticket prices: $30 Full price / $20 Industry guild concession*

About Thom Zimny

Thom Zimny is an award-winning artist, director, producer and editor. Working with Bruce Springsteen for the past 18 years, Zimny has directed documentaries including Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes, The Ties That Bind and the newly released Springsteen On Broadway. He has previously directed and produced two feature length documentaries chronicling key chapters in Bruce Springsteen’s recording career, winning a Grammy for Wings For Wheels: The Making of Born to Run. In addition, Zimny edited three seasons of the highly acclaimed HBO series by David Simon, The Wire and helmed music videos for Bob Dylan, The Low Anthem and many others. The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash was made in collaboration with the Cash Estate, and premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.

The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash

Auckland screenings featuring a Q+A with Thom Zimny

Tuesday 30 July, 6.15pm at ASB Waterfront Theatre

Wednesday 31 July, 3.15pm at ASB Waterfront Theatre

Wellington screenings

Saturday 3 August at 6.15pm at Soundings Theatre, Te Papa

Monday 5 August at 6.30pm at the Roxy Cinema

Tuesday 6 August at 2.15pm at the Roxy Cinema

 

* Apply the Industry code from your guild/association when booking.

Film Talk: Camino Skies – July 10

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Camino Skies

Enjoy New Zealand documentary Camino Skies at our next Film Talk in association with Rialto Cinemas. Director Fergus Grady will be present for a half-hour audience Q&A after the film.

The inspirational journey of six antipodean pilgrims between the ages of 50 and 80 who embark on the historic 800 kilometre Spanish pilgrimage. In the face of overwhelming odds, the Camino acts as a catalyst for catharsis and forces the group to defy their age and physical ability as they come to terms with recent loss. Heart-breaking and inspirational, Camino Skies is an uplifting story about everyday people doing the extraordinary.

“The Directors ability to capture intimate, poignant moments with subtlety and restraint while carefully crafting a narrative was both engaging and genuinely moving.” – Doc Edge Film Festival Judges Feedback

Documentary Masterclass and Project Lab with Award-Winning Filmmaker Doug Blush

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Icarus

This May, the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ is thrilled to present two days of feature documentary workshops for editors, directors and producers with US documentary filmmaker Doug Blush. Doug returns to New Zealand thanks to a partnership with Loading Docs.

DOUG BLUSH is an award-winning editor, director, producer, writer and cinematographer whose work includes over 130 feature and television projects, and is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) as well as the American Cinema Editors (ACE).

His recent credits include, as edit consultant, Notable Pictures’ The Chills: The Triumph and Tragedy of Martin Phillipps, as consulting editor and co-producer, the 2019 Academy Award winning Period. End Of Sentence, the 2018 Academy Award winning Icarus, and, as supervising editor, the 2013 Oscar-winning 20 Feet From Stardom, for which he also received the ACE Eddie Award for Best Documentary Editing. He was Co-Editor and Associate Producer of Kirby Dick’s The Hunting Ground in 2014, and the Oscar nominated and Emmy winning The Invisible War in 2012.

Doug co-owns MadPix Films, a production and post production company in Los Angeles dedicated to documentary and independent films. He is also a longtime film educator with classes and seminars at USC, UCLA, Syracuse University and the YoungArts Foundation in Miami, as well as exchanges and panels in Indonesia, Brazil, New Zealand, Armenia, Malaysia, Nigeria, China, the Netherlands and more.

Day 1: Masterclass on Producing and Editing a Winning Documentary

Sunday 19 May, 9am – 5pm, MTG RM, Kingsland, Auckland

In the world of documentary, the edit is crucial. This interactive Masterclass for editors, producers and directors will connect editing with the other crafts involved in documentary filmmaking.

The Masterclass will survey where we are and where we’re heading in documentary – using examples from over 15 years of award winning and widely distributed docs from Doug’s catalog of over 130 feature films. Participants will get to see how many major doc features and shorts made the most of great stories and overcame huge problems to succeed.

The day will discuss successful strategies for production, editing and post schedules, and promotion, distribution and festivals. Participants are also encouraged to discuss current issues they’re facing in their films, or questions about ideas in the planning stages.

Cost: DEGNZ members – Free, Non-members – $60

REGISTER NOW  >

Day 2: Project Lab

Monday 20 May, 9am – 4pm, MTG RM, Kingsland, Auckland

Call for Applications!

The Lab will consist of a group seminar with up to 6 selected teams with a feature documentary project in post-production. Editors may attend on behalf of their project or come as a team.

The day will focus on how to think about structure, character arcs and larger meanings of each film, and how to plan out an edit path with goals and benchmarks.

Participants will be asked to introduce their project with a logline summary and show a sample (based on where the project is) for group discussion and feedback in a confidential environment.

We will discuss each project, and go over the potential promising story directions and possible pitfalls of each. Doug will also draw on clips from his past docs to show how they may have dealt with similar issues in the edit and the shoot.

Cost: $85 / team; fee waived if the editor is a DEGNZ Full member

How to Apply for the Lab – Open to Editors

Lab Application Deadline: 4PM, Monday 13 May

STEP 1: Click here to apply using the registration form. You will need to supply details about your project (title, brief synopsis, links if any) and names of those on your team.

STEP 2: Send in PDF to tema@degnz.co.nz:

  • Your CV and/or bio
  • And a brief, maximum 1-page letter that summarises why you would like to attend with your project, and what stage it’s in currently.

Files must be sent before the deadline. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

 

Doug’s visit is made possible thanks to our partner Loading Docs.

Workshops brought to you with the generous support of the New Zealand Film Commission.

NZFC

Watch: In The Zone Q&A with Robyn Paterson & Terrance Wallace

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In The Zone film

Director Robyn Paterson and Terrance Wallace, founder of the InZone Project, share on the process of making their 2018 feature documentary In The Zone. The film follows Terrance’s journey to establish first a home for minority teens in New Zealand’s most sought after school zone, and then in his own community back in Chicago with political and racial tensions rising in the USA.

Throughout its powerful narrative, In The Zone raises poignant questions about education, privilege, diversity, and cycles of inequality across the Western world.

 

“You are pulling people together and having to get the trust and build the trust with people from really different walks of life, really different ends of the political spectrum, different ends of the socio-economic spectrum. For me, as a filmmaker, I think my biggest job was building those relationships.” – Robyn Paterson

 

This event was part of the Film Talk Series, presented by DEGNZ and Rialto Cinemas in Auckland.

 

What Does 2019 Hold for NZ Film?

View from the Top banner

I hope everyone is well and rested after the Christmas and New Year break.

As we kick off the year, I’ve been forced to ponder what 2019 holds for NZ film both personally and because it’s something we should all be asking ourselves with the changes in the global screen industry.

To come up with my answer, the first thing I decided to do was look back and see how NZ films performed at the Box Office domestically in 2018.

Box Office numbers in NZ as one indicator of performance are available and reliable, but they don’t paint a true picture for a number of reasons, including:

  1. NZFC’s mandate is as a cultural funding body not a commercially driven investor. A film doesn’t have to return its investment to make it worthwhile for them to fund it.
  2. International Box Office numbers are difficult to obtain and can be inaccurate.
  3. Other international revenues, such as a sale to a streamer like Netflix, can go unreported.

True returns on film investment, therefore, are difficult to determine.

Of course, like the Swedish with the Quadrant B films I’ve written about previously, we’d all love to have critically acclaimed box office successes, but they are few and far between anywhere.

However, to get NZFC funding you must have local theatrical distribution, and local Box Office is one measure used to rate the performance of a NZ film. So for starters, here are I believe all the NZ films that got theatrical distribution in 2018 with their box office (If I missed anything or am incorrect, please let me know):

  Title Genre NZFC Prod. Investment NZ Box Office
Narrative Fiction
1 Vermilion Drama Y $21,329.00
2 The Stolen** Drama Y $38,716.00
3 Human Traces Thriller Y $63,182.00
4 Stray Drama N $83,259.00
5 Kiwi Christmas** Family Y $301,494.00
6 Waru Anthology Drama Y $400,747.00
7 Hibiscus and Ruthless Comedy N $496,096.00
8 Broken Faith drama N $753,118.00
9 Mortal Engines* Fantasy N $1,428,448.00
10 The Breaker Upperers Comedy Y $1,776,484.00
Documentary
1 Wayne Doco Y $22,164.00
2 Maui’s Hook Doco Y $23,376.00
3 Yellow Is Forbidden* Doco Y $44,137.00
4 She Shears* Doco Y $132,512.00
5 Born Racer: The Scott Dixon Story Doco N $155,588.00
6 No Ordinary Sheila Doco N $356,243.00
7 They Shall Not Grow Old* Doco N $685,969.00

*Still in theatres at the end of 2018
**Received New Zealand Screen Production Grant funding—numbers were only available to 30 Sept. 2018; so one or more films in the table may also have received NZSPG but the info. hasn’t been released yet.

We can take a number of things from this table (with some added facts):

  1. Seventeen films received a release in 2018—a good number.
  2. Five of the 10 narratives were helmed by first-timers: Vermilion, Human Traces, Stray, Waru, Broken, and The Breaker Upperers (one of two co-directors). (Waru as an anthology film made up of eight shorts with first timers counts as one first time female director.)
  3. Three of the seven docos had first-time directors: Maui’s Hook, She Shears, and No Ordinary Sheila.
  4. Four out of the 17 films were female-led projects written by women with female protagonists: Vermilion, The Breaker Upperers, Waru and Yellow Is Forbidden.
  5. Waru and Maui’s Hook are Māori films and both address important social issues.
  6. Yellow Is Forbidden was NZ’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
  7. Local box office numbers range from poorly performing to bona fide hits.

We should remember that we are not comparing apples with apples here. Budgets vary wildly from a few hundred thousand for Stray and Waru to US$100 million for Mortal Engines. Distribution and marketing spend is equally varied. Budget size is a significant factor in profitability.

Stepping back a little, we can say that if 2018 is anything to go by, certainly output-wise, the NZ film industry is in good health.

So what about 2019?

Output
Output is likely to be over 10 films, both narrative and doco. We’ll hopefully have one box office winner. There’ll be a mixed bag of other films when it comes to quality and NZ Box Office, some of which will be critically acclaimed. Like the Australians, we do generally struggle to get NZ audiences to NZ films.

First-timers
We’ll continue to see films from first-timers, as NZFC looks for the next Jane Campion, Pietra Brett-Kelly, Peter Jackson, Annie Goldson, Niki Caro, Leanne Pooley or Lee Tamahori.

Female driven films
NZFC’s initiatives to address gender inequality should see more female-driven films coming through this year and certainly next.

Maori & Pacific Island films
Anthology film Vai is opening NATIVe at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival with eight female directors, seven Pacific Islanders and one Māori. NZ had one film in 2019 Sundance in Heperi Mita’s documentary about his mother Merata (Australia had 6).

Maori and Pacific Island stories and filmmakers are also receiving additional attention from NZFC, so there will be a flow through, but more likely from 2020 on.

Narrative and documentary
Ten narratives (58%) out of 17 is quite high. There may be a rebalancing with a more even percentage between narrative and doco.

The trend reflected in the NZ results reflects what is going on globally: drama, particularly arthouse drama, struggles to get box office (and financed) unless you have name cast or directors the likes of Debra Granik, Lynn Shelton, Alfonso Cuarón or Pavel Pawilkowski, or have built in audiences.

That said, first-timers or other directors with drama without name cast might well score the coveted Cannes slot that New Zealand hasn’t had for over 15 years. I predict, though, that we will see more genre and elevated genre projects coming through.

Documentary is low cost in comparison to most narrative films, and the market globally for docos is strong even though Netflix has cut right back on them. We will continue to see good documentary numbers going into production.

International Financing
I haven’t touched on this till now but it’s too important in today’s market to leave out. It’s been a tough film market out there, but reports from Sundance say the buyers are back in play and spending up big.

I’ve just seen a report out of Europe saying streamers will spend north of US$20 billion on film and TV in the coming year. This is new money that wasn’t around before Netflix arrived on the scene in 1997. A good chunk of this will go to TV series but film will definitely get some, so the world is awash with money at the moment for financing… for the right projects.

Considering the incredible change that has occurred in film particularly over the last five years, you could say things are somewhat positive for NZ filmmakers. And that’s not a bad place to be.

Of course if you want to make money, you should be in TV drama because it’s better than it’s ever been. Internationally anyway.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director