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The Turn of the Screw

Having changed the location of Henry James’ Victorian ghost story to present-day Wellington, director Alex Galvin presents audiences with a fresh adaption of The Turn of the Screw. Join us for a screening of the film, which will be releasing in select NZ cinemas Jan-Feb. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with members Alex Galvin (director) and Ed Sampson (editor/producer), alongside Greer Phillips (lead actor) and Emma Beale (producer).

The film follows a young actress, Julia, who is a last minute replacement in a theatre production of the Henry James classic The Turn of the Screw. Julia becomes immersed in the gothic horror production. As her terror increases, she suspects it’s not the fictitious house that’s haunted, but the theatre itself.

When: Friday 22 January 2021 at 7:45pm
Where: Rialto Cinemas Newmarket, 167-169 Broadway, Newmarket, Auckland

Film Industry Member tickets $12

Book now

 

 

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It’s with great sadness that I heard of the passing of New Zealand International Film Festival Director Bill Gosden.

I knew Bill professionally but not personally, and always watched with great admiration the way he orchestrated NZIFF with aplomb.

It was because of Bill and NZIFF that I developed a love of independent cinema and arthouse film.

Every year I made a point of catching 15 to 30 films at the fest in Auckland. Bill and his team showed us that there was more to film than the hero’s journey and Save the Cat.

I remember in 2017 going to see the 5.5 hour Japanese film Happy Hour by Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, and being captivated for every minute. Or watching in 2016 the astounding Columbian film Embrace of the Serpent by Ciro Guerra, an artistic feast for the eyes and mind. Or sitting in 2014 with Ruben Östlund’s Swedish masterpiece Force Majure and British director Steven Knight’s tour de force Locke. Then there was in 2012 German director Christian Petzoid’s simply beautiful Barbara and Denis Villeneuve’s powerful, moving Incendies in 2011. I could go on—Lebanon, Page One: Inside The New York Times, I Love You Phillip Morris, Four Lions, Frank, The Hunt, etc., etc.

Equally, I suffered through a few of my own personal dislikes, such as Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s Ash is the Purest White, Portuguese critical hit Tabu by Miguel Gomes, or American director Frederick Wiseman’s interminable Ex Libris.

All these films just an example of the masterful programming of NZIFF that Bill led.

Then of course is the incredible support he gave to New Zealand filmmakers, both feature length and short, from Gaylene Preston to Florian Harbicht, Yamin Tun to Hamish Bennett, Daniel Borgman to Aidee Walker, Tim van Dammen, Becs Arahanga and Jack Niccol to name a few.

DEGNZ has had for a number of years an official connection with Bill and NZIFF through our hosting of visiting directors and introducing their films, to more recently running director masterclasses with them, like those with Debra Granik and Thom Zimny.

Bill Gosden made every wintery August a month to look forward to, and he enriched the cinematic life of New Zealand with his choices. I for one will be eternally grateful.

Bill Gosden’s memorial service will be held at the Public Trust Hall, 131–135 Lambton Quay, Wellington, on Monday 16 November, at 2:00pm.

Also an official memorial page is also being created for Bill, and you are invited to email your messages to tribute@rememberingbillgosden.nz.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

 

 

 

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The world of film continues to be shaken up both at home and abroad. The only thing that’s clear is that streaming is here to stay and picking up steam.

Disney is just undertaking an entire reorganisation of its business to put streaming front and centre with content leading the way. The Mulan experiment as a Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) release possibly helped decide their future direction. Even with the need to subscribe to Disney+ just to get the ability to pay the premium price, punters made Mulan the fifth most-streamed SVOD title in the US in September, as tracked by measurement company Park7 Data.

Disney’s move follows WarnerMedia’s refocusing on content after the tepid response to the launch of HBO Max. Over at NBCUniversal, they too have reorganised along with the introduction of their streaming service Peacock.

So where does that leave the theatrical exhibitors?

Just two months ago, the world biggest theatrical exhibitor AMC and NBCUniversal paved the way for PVOD to become a Hollywood fixture when they overcame a bitter windowing disagreement to do a deal. Showing how quickly the old model is now becoming defunct primarily due to COVID, attendance numbers are nearly 85% down on what remains of AMC’s just under 500 theatres still open in America. Even worse, AMC predicts it will run out of cash to operate by the end of the year.

The second largest theatrical distributor on the planet, Britain’s Cineworld, has just announced it will shutter nearly 700 theatres in the UK and the US, threatening nearly 45,000 jobs. It doesn’t know when it will reopen them.

All of this comes amidst the moving feast of tentpole film releases. Christopher Nolan managed to convince Warners to put Tenet into theatres this year, but Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Bond film No Time to Die and Christopher McQuarie’s Mission Impossible 7 are just some of the films pushed back to 2021. All this does is put more pressure on the exhibitors.

Theatres are crying out for tentpole films to help generate revenue, even with social distancing measures in place. They just can’t get them. The situation is so dire directors James Cameron, Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen amongst others signed a letter to the US Government that said without additional support, 69% of small and mid-sized cinemas in the US would likely go bankrupt or close.

In New Zealand however, NZ films are having a bit of a dream run with no tent poles and not a lot else to compete against.

DEGNZ member director Sam Kelly’s Savage hit a million dollars at the box office, David White’s This Town has done just over $700k. Paul Murphy’s Low Down Dirty Criminals is still in theatres at Week 7. In the old normal it would likely be gone by now, pushed aside by new releases.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Film Commission just extended for a further six months its COVID-19 Policy regarding its Terms of Trade. This means for films up to $2.5 million, you no longer need to have both a distributor and a sales agent. You only need one or the other. Or, in a major change, a recognised VOD platform can replace the sales agent or distributor.

Frankly, I believe the mandatory need to have any of them for films up to $2.5 million is an old and broken model. If you have a good script and package and they believe in the project, then a sales agent, distributor or platform will come in.

And if they don’t and you make a good film, you will just as likely find them when the film’s ready to show. The supposed financial commitment they make through a Minimum Guarantee (MG) can sometimes be a sham anyway, so why have it as a mandatory requirement for the finance plan? If you have a finished film and more than one sales agent or distributor wants it, it puts you in a stronger negotiating position.

Guaranteed distribution on the public broadcaster’s OnDemand service would deliver the potential for eyeballs with marketing the key to getting people to watch, guaranteeing a viewing avenue for the NZ public.

Theatrical exhibition then becomes the nice-to-have, not the must-have, while still offering the box office revenue opportunity. Window the theatrical first as is still being done and you protect the box office from pillaging by the OnDemand.

Over the Tasman, Screen Australia has already done away with the need for Australasian distribution. A positive amongst the carnage that’s been wrought there in film and television. The big ‘If’ there is whether or not the streamers will pick up the slack as the Australian Government hopes they will. Not levying streamers to produce local content in the expectation that they will take Aussie content anyway is a bet Australian production companies don’t like the odds of.

Meanwhile, here we sit, basking in the glow of the setting sun of the old film industry, hoping like hell that the Golden Age of television is going to save us.

We shall see.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

The DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment Scheme is a new initiative giving emerging drama editors the opportunity to advance their craft through shadowing and mentoring from an experienced drama editor.

Emerging drama editors are invited to apply for our third DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment. The successful candidate will attach to editor Peter Roberts on feature film Juniper, directed by Matthew Saville, and produced by Desray Armstrong and Angela Littlejohn.

Since relocating from the United Kingdom, Peter Roberts has made his mark in New Zealand as an editor. Roberts found his editing niche at TVNZ, before a prolific freelance career saw him cutting a string of documentaries, shorts, and features — including award-winning drama The Dark Horse. In 2013 he became the first editor to be elected President of the Directors and Editors Guild of New Zealand. Peter’s other credits include Sam kelly’s feature Savage, due for release in NZ in 2020 following its world premiere in 2019 at the Busan International Film Festival; hit NZ – Aus. TV drama series Cleverman; telefeature Jean, helmed by Rob Sarkies; and Bryn Evans directed feature doc. Hip Hop-eration.

The DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment initiative is targeted at editors who wish to move into feature film editing. Its purpose is to allow an emerging drama editor to:

  • 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.
  • get on-the-job feature-editing experience.
  • receive feedback and mentoring from an experienced feature film editor in a safe environment.

The opportunity for the attachment to get limited hands-on cutting experience is possible but entirely at the discretion of the editor, director and producers of the production.

This is a paid Auckland-based attachment and requires the successful candidate depending on experience and flexibility to start at the earliest in February 2020. If non-Auckland based, the candidate must cover their own travel and living costs. They are also required to be a Full member of DEGNZ for the duration of their attachment.

The duration of the attachment would be up to a maximum of 30 full days, but may well be broken down into a mixture of full days and half days. The first week is expected to be full time.

Eligibility

To be eligible, applicants MUST:

  1. Be a FULL member of DEGNZ
  2. Be fully competent with the AVID editing system
  3. Have some past dramatic narrative editing experience (does not have to be extensive)
  4. Be available to participate fully during the post production period, starting in February
  5. Most importantly, have a passionate desire to become a feature film editor

To Apply

Application Deadline: 5PM, Friday 17 January 2020

Send your application in a single PDF to admin@degnz.co.nz with ‘Editor Attachment’ in the subject line.

Your application must include:

  • a maximum 1-page letter on why you would like to do the attachment
  • your CV and filmography, including links to a showreel/video samples that illustrate your dramatic narrative work
  • a completed Editor Attachment Application Cover Sheet.

Download the Editor Attachment Application Cover Sheet

DEGNZ will notify you as to whether or not your application has been successful, but the decision will be final and no further correspondence will be entered into regarding your application.

We look forward to receiving your applications.

This attachment is brought to you with the generous support of the New Zealand Film Commission.

 

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I had the good fortune to attend the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) for the official launch of the Alliance of Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Writers and Directors (AAPA) last week. Guild president Howard Taylor signed the MOU for DEGNZ’s participation in this alliance in Tokyo in May.

AAPA is dedicated to serving as an independent and impartial advocate on behalf of the audiovisual creators community in the Asia-Pacific region and seeking to strengthen copyright protection.

Already we are benefitting from belonging to this Alliance with considerable support coming from Writers & Directors Worldwide (W & DW) and the International Federation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), under whose umbrellas the Alliance sits.

Present at BIFF were two guild members with their films: David Stubbs with his feature Daffodils, and Sam Kelly with Savage, which had its world premiere in Busan. It has been a while since a New Zealand feature was selected for BIFF, so it’s quite a coup to have two here. Congratulations to David and Sam for their achievements in getting their features into what is arguably still the most prestigious film festival in Asia.

While there, I took the opportunity to look at the feature film projects being pitched from around the Asian region, both by young emerging filmmakers and those more established. It was interesting to note the similarities and differences between what is happening across Asia and in New Zealand.

One of the first things that struck me was that like many aspiring New Zealand writer/directors, many Asian writer/directors expect to write a script from their treatment and have it move into production within one year. The average time for a film to move from initial idea to completion (if it does get made) in New Zealand and Australia is five to seven years. Case in point is Sam Kelly’s film Savage, which spent over six years in development. I asked Professor Darcy Parquet, who lectures in Korean film at the Busan Asian Film School, if in Asia it was unrealistic to expect such rapid progression. He agreed that it was.

Budgets also vary considerably. In speaking to one Japanese producer, I was told that indie film budgets in Japan typically sit in the range of US$30,000 – 300,000. Korea is a highly commercial market where indie films struggle as they do in Japan. Korean independent films have slightly higher indie budgets than Japan, but nowhere near the typical US$5 million budget a Korean commercial film gets. Elsewhere in Asia, indie film budgets seem to range from US$200,000 to US$600,000 – 750,000. An important consideration to remember is that there is not a lot of government support for film around Asia, unlike in New Zealand and Australia.

We are certainly not alone in wanting to tell dark dramas. In a number of pitches I heard, cancer and suicide featured frequently and there were quite a few tough films wanting to be told. This was balanced by genre or genre hybrid projects—a reflection I believe of the lower budgets, lack of government funding and a need to get returns for investors, as well as a desire to tell more genre stories.

Highly obvious at the Asian Film Market that sits alongside BIFF is the European presence. Many European organisations and producers are seeking to strengthen ties with Asia for co-production, which is the mainstay of the European film industry. There is also a fascination with Asia and its stories. Europeans, who are masters of co-production and have access to a variety of soft-funding sources, are searching out talented Asian filmmakers with strong stories to support. It’s such a pity that co-production in New Zealand and Australia is so limited by both attitudes and resources, as well as isolated by geographic distance. New Zealand has co-production agreements with South Korea, Singapore, China and Taiwan, but these are rarely used.

I’d have to say that I’ve never before met as many film festival programmers from other festivals before as I met here. That can probably be attributed to the fact that it’s a smaller market than others I’ve been lucky enough to attend. I think, however, that it’s another sign of the European interest in the region.

Streamers are having the same impact in Asia as is happening elsewhere, with the future of indie film still very uncertain. SVOD still hasn’t picked up the slack that DVDs used to bring in terms of revenue. That doesn’t seem to have slowed the Asian passion for indie features though. Everyone still seems to be rushing forward. But nobody it would seem is yet sure if it’s towards oblivion or a brighter future.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director