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Congratulations to DEGANZ members whose films have been selected for this year’s Hawai’i International Film Festival (HIFF) in November. Furthermore, several films will be having their US Premieres.

Annually, an average of 150 narrative features, documentaries and shorts are chosen from around 1,500 films. HIFF endeavours to recognise new and emerging talent. In addition, the festival spotlights work that explores social and cultural issues.

High Tide, Don’t Hide is a full-length documentary about teenagers discovering that activism, authority and awareness make for a steep learning curve in the race for existence. The film was written by Niva Kay, DEGANZ member and participant in our Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator 2021. Niva is one of four producer-directors on this film, which is having its US Premiere at HIFF.

Earlier this year, High Tide, Don’t Hide had its World Premiere at the New Zealand Doc Edge Festival, where it won an award for Best New Zealand Editing and a Special Mention in the Best New Zealand Feature category.

The short film Disrupt (pictured above) follows the aftermath of a burglary gone wrong. In it CJ must choose between his whānau or his next fix. DEGANZ member Lisa Greenfield was the editor with Margot Francis (DEGANZ board member) as the supervising editor.

Celia Jasper, writer, director and editor of short film Milk, explores what happens when a young girl sees an old man unable to pay for his milk. It recently won Best Editing at the Venezia Shorts in Italy and is nominated for Best Screenplay at Show Me Shorts.

Teine Sā is a supernatural anthology series based on legends of the Pacific. After centuries of slumber, the ‘Teine Sā’ or ‘the ancient ones’ have been evoked to come into the world once again. Having its US Premiere at HIFF, Teine Sā has a couple of DEGANZ members behind it. Jack Woon was the editor, while Zoey Zhao worked on episode 3 as his assistant editor. Zoey is part of our Incubator 2021.

Inspired by the Black Panther Party in the USA, a group of young radicals from New Zealand follow suit in The Panthers. The six-part mini series made history as the strongest opening week for a drama on TVNZ OnDemand. DEGANZ member Vea Mafile’o directed two episodes.

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On Wednesday evening I participated in our online Editors and Assistant Editors Gathering. There were about 35 of us. It was an opportunity to discuss issues that affect editors and assistant editors, and to network.

One of the questions that often came up from students studying screen, and one that I regularly encounter, is: How do you get a job in the industry?

This is a question we are wrestling with at the Guild as we put our efforts into the Reform of Vocational Education, to provide both a clear pathway into work as well as to outline educational structures and content that will help to ensure learners are as prepared as they can be to work within the screen sector.

The Gathering also got me to look back at how I got into the screen sector, and I thought I would relate that pathway here.

I was living in Tokyo Japan working with an American and Canadian friend in their small agency as a writer and rewriter of copy for advertising and communications content. A good chunk of the work was taking the Japanese to English translations the Canadian and others were doing of corporate video scripts and brushing them up for re-narrating in English.

The American had gone to film school in California and had a mate who was working as an Editor at Entertainment Tonight, a daily entertainment show on CBS. My friend managed to convince his mate and his mate’s bosses they needed a stringer (contract) crew in Japan to do entertainment stories for the show. They agreed, so he went out and bought camera and sound gear, roped his Canadian partner, me and another friend in, and very quickly we were filing stories for them. It was fun work. In the early days it was occasionally covering well-known bands coming to Japan to play concerts before it spun into much broader entertainment content and more regular work.

Meanwhile I had been travelling back to NZ once a year for breaks. On one trip I met a young Kiwi student studying at Auckland University who was a good Japanese speaker. He told me that he had been getting work with a couple of Japanese line producers, one living in Auckland the other in Sydney. They were coordinating Japanese TV commercial crews coming down to NZ for shoots. This made me think that there was an opportunity to get into this work as my English-speaking Japanese girlfriend (now wife) worked regularly as an interpreter, and my sister was a travel agent. We set up a company and for a few years worked with Japanese crews, most often in Central Otago and Southland shooting commercials.

During this time we returned to NZ to live and continued running the company, but I decided that I wanted to make content rather than just help others to make it. I made up a list of production companies in Auckland (there weren’t many at that time) and started banging on doors. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do too much knocking before I was hired to work as a production assistant for television and film producer Robin Scholes. So began my climb up the ladder through various roles as a writer, director, producer and executive producer doing corporate, TV, travel, and news for companies, including a couple of my own, before I launched into narrative drama.

Everybody has their own path into the screen industry. Every once in a while from now on I’m going to ask someone to write about their own experience. I’m hoping it will at least be interesting if not helpful for readers, while the Guild works to make it less about who you know and more about what you know, and formalise how to get there to kickstart a career.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

DEGNZ member Chia Chi Hsu answers some questions about her experience shadowing Millie Lies Low editor Dan Kircher and what she learnt from the mentorship. Chia was selected in 2020 to take part in our Drama Editor Attachment Scheme, funded by Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission.

 


For anyone who hasn’t done an attachment, what does being a drama editor attachment through DEGNZ mean in a nutshell?

An opportunity for an up close look at the editorial aspects of a drama production, and be privy to meetings and discussions between the editor and others involved that one might not have the experience of attending before.


You finished your editor attachment not long ago. How long was your attachment and what was your schedule like with Dan Kircher?

The sessions were widely spread out so I got to see a bit of everything, from the rough cut stage till the end of the project. The attachment took well over a year because of Covid, but the lengthy period allowed me to take in and put to use what I had observed.


What’s something you learnt from Dan while observing him work with director Michelle Savill?

Always be prepared and be open to communication. Also I saw a good deal of trust and respect between Dan and Michelle, from which I think the film really benefited.


What was your experience like in later parts of the process?

Similar to earlier but just observing different aspects of the process. Also, I saw that the editor’s involvement carries on well after the locked cut; apart from colour grading and sound, Dan also helped with music clearance. I think being able to see a project through to the end must be very satisfying.


How has your attachment helped you with work that you’re doing?

During the attachment, I happened to be working on a web series. Bit by bit, what I had picked up from the attachment, I was able to apply them directly to what I was working on: from how to organise a project for a drama, how to tackle the notes, to tactfully dealing with tricky situations.


What’s one thing you discovered about feature film editing that was different to what you imagined?

How the extent of an editor’s involvement can facilitate the editorial process, and that being an editor is more than having the technical skills but also being able to communicate well, manage expectations, problem solve, all of which contributes to how well a film will turn out.


How do you think your attachment has contributed to your development as an editor?

With the many solid skills I have picked up during the attachment, I think they are helping me to be more confident, knowing that I have a few more tools under the belt, and more equipped to deal with projects on a larger scale.

 

What are you working on next?

I am working on a feature drama film at the moment, alongside Dan! The new project started just as the attachment ended, as if the attachment has continued on!

 


Chia Chi Hsu entered post production in mid-2015 as an assistant editor to documentaries, working with veteran filmmakers and editors on films and series, including Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web, Yellow is Forbidden and Dark Tourist, among others. Her work includes editing on short film Memory Foam, web series Inked, the TVNZ anthology series episode Giving Up the Ghost; additional editor on Yellow is Forbidden and The Girl on the Bridge.

The DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment Scheme was initiated to give emerging drama editors the opportunity to advance their craft through shadowing and mentoring from an experienced drama editor. Recipients learn through attendance during editing and later, at director, producer and/or funding body screenings, about the critique and response process so vital to the successful creative collaboration required of the feature film editor. The scheme is made possible thanks to funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.

Congratulations to editors Annie Collins and Cushla Dillon who will have their work screened as part of the 69th edition of the Melbourne International Film Festival (Aug 5-22).

Annie edited feature film thriller Coming Home in the Dark, which will screen in cinemas and online. Cushla Dillon was the editor on drama The Justice of Bunny King, which will screen in cinemas on August 7 and August 9 as part of MIFF.

For us in Aotearoa, save the date for August 12. DEGNZ will be hosting a Film Talk for Coming Home in the Dark at Rialto Cinemas Newmarket in Auckland. Director James Ashcroft will be in attendance for a special Q&A. Get your tickets here.

Director Gaysorn Thavat will also join audiences and DEGNZ for a Rialto screening of The Justice of Bunny King on July 29, 6pm. More details here.

We’re hosting gatherings in Auckland and Wellington and we’d love for you to attend! All editors and assistant editors welcome.

Catch-up with new and familiar connections (beyond the water cooler) and meet the editors on our board: Francis Glenday, Margot Francis, Steven Chow and Annie Collins. A short part of the evening will provide you with the opportunity to share your thoughts on how the Guild can further serve our professions.

Nibbles will be served
Cash bar

Auckland – Wednesday 11 August 2021, 7pm
Register now >

Wellington – Wednesday 1 September 2021, 6:30pm
Register now >

Members and Non-members – Free