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Member director Michelle Savill (DEGANZ Incubator 2018) spoke about her film Millie Lies Low in a recent interview with RNZ. The film is playing at the New Zealand International Film Festival, and opened for a special preview season for the festival in Wellington.

Millie Lies Low tells the story of anxiety-ridden architecture grad Millie who misses her flight to a prestigious internship in New York. Faced with no money for another ticket and too ashamed to admit her blunder, Millie fakes being in New York through social media prowess while lying low in her hometown.

Michelle shared how her own experiences inspired the making of this film; “The idea came about when the last short film I made, Ellen is Leaving, was screening at a festival in France. I missed my flight, and my first thought was ‘I’m going to have to hide for three weeks and pretend I’m in France’.”

Michelle also drew from her own struggles with mental health to portray anxiety and panic attacks in the film; “I struggle with anxiety a lot, and depression off and on, so I’m always working from ‘write what you know’… so I guess that’s the fountain of creativity that I’m drawing from.”

Tickets to Millie Lies Low are available on the NZIFF website, and you can listen to the full interview on RNZ.

Show Me Shorts Film Festival 2021 have announced the nominees for their annual Awards Ceremony. Seventeen short films were nominated across eight categories including Best Director and Best Editor. As proud sponsors of these awards, DEGNZ warmly congratulates the nominees below and we look forward to seeing your mahi screen across the country.

The Awards Ceremony will take place on Sunday 17 October in Auckland where the winners will be announced alongside the award-winning films.

Nominations for DEGNZ Best Director

Isaac Bell for Space Invader

Max is a small boy with a big imagination and a loyal co-pilot of a dad. But when Dad gets a new girlfriend, Max must find a way to confront this new menace before she steals his dad forever.

Kaitiaki Rodger for Matua

Manaaki returns home after the death of his mother. After the tangi, he is approached by two strangers to provide Te Reo Māori lessons to them. Manaaki reluctantly accepts, unaware that he is about to uncover hidden family secrets.

Dwayne Cameron for June

Willow and David receive a serious diagnosis from their doctor and attempt to deal with the mundane as their world disintegrates in the following 24 hours. This one day for the couple holds raw despair, unleashing carnal natures but a transcendent occurrence offers them the hope of new life.

 

Nominations for DEGNZ Best Editor

Peter Roberts and Dwayne Cameron for June

Willow and David receive a serious diagnosis from their doctor and attempt to deal with the mundane as their world disintegrates in the following 24 hours. This one day for the couple holds raw despair, unleashing carnal natures but a transcendent occurrence offers them the hope of new life.

Brendon Chan for Blood and Gold

New Zealand, 1861. Man’s hunt for gold is feverish. Through the snow-capped mountains a woman flees on horseback. When she encounters a horrific scene, she makes a decision which will alter the course of two lives…

Joseph Grigg for Blue Lake

Monster-hunting youtube sensations Phil and Angie are on the road again, searching to uncover Otago’s supernatural secrets. An eerie trip to Blue Lake could finally get them on the cover of the Otago Daily Times, or maybe the obituaries

The New Zealand International Film Festival has announced that local shorts will also screen before selected feature films in Auckland and Wellington, on top of the NZ’s Best and the Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika short film sections. Keep an eye out for these five short films by DEGNZ members.

The Man Downstairs

Director/producer and DEGNZ member Grant Lahood will have his short The Man Downstairs  screened this year during the festival. The premise is mysterious as young couple Jess and Tom move into the perfect new apartment upstairs from their landlord Colin, but then things start getting strange.

Marieville

Grant Lahood also has another short film screening, one he wrote, directed and produced called Marieville. Marieville is centred around Karen and a sudden encounter with an icon from her past that conjures evocative memories of her late father and his passion for a model Mississippi paddle boat.

The Meek

The storyline for The Meek simply couldn’t be more timely: in a twist of chromosomes and fate, young Izzy may also be the key to humanity’s future in a world ravaged by a deadly virus. The short film set to screen at this year’s festival is directed and written by DEGNZ member Gillian Ashurst and edited by Jonathan Woodford-Robinson.

Munkie

DEGNZ board member Steven Chow will see his film Munkie screened in Auckland and Wellington during the festival too. Steven wrote, directed and edited Munkie which tells the story of Rose and her violent plan for revenge against her domineering tiger parents.

Peninsula

In the film Peninsula, Mark is pushed out of his comfort zone while trying to reconnect with his estranged son Toby and deal with his new neighbour Amber who does things differently. Written and directed by Fiona McKenzie and edited and produced by Scott Flyger, Peninsula has done extremely well internationally and we are excited to have it screen on our shores again.

View from the Top banner

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

Essie Davis and Thomasin McKenzie in The Justice of Bunny King

On July 29, following its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival, DEGNZ is excited to be hosting a screening of The Justice of Bunny King, in association with Rialto Cinemas. The film follows Bunny King (Essie Davis), a mother of two who’s a rough cut diamond with a sketchy past. While battling the system to reunite with her children, a confrontation leads her to take her niece Tonyah (Thomasin McKenzie) under her wing. With the world against her and Tonyah, Bunny’s battle has just begun.

Following the screening, audiences will be joined by director Gaysorn Thavat for a Q&A session, moderated by Lucy Wigmore.

We look forward to seeing you there!

When: Thursday 29 July, 6pm
Where: Rialto Cinemas Newmarket, 167-169 Broadway, Newmarket, Auckland

Film Industry Member tickets only $12

Book now