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Earlier in the year, DEGNZ member Brendon Chan took part in our Drama Editor Attachment Scheme, attaching to editor Peter Roberts on Matthew Saville’s feature film Juniper. He got to shadow Peter over the course of the edit – from assembly with the director’s intent in mind through to the final cut.

Read on to hear about Brendon’s experience.

 


How did your attachment to Peter Roberts start of?

I think at the beginning of it he did tell me, ‘I’m not here to teach you how to edit, you should know that already. You’re here to observe the feature film process, which is a process that not too many people get to observe at all, as editors.’

 

You were still working while you were doing your attachment, is that correct?

Yeah, I managed to take the time out where I needed to sort of run back and forth on certain days when I wasn’t working. Peter was working at Images, and then shifted to his house during lockdown.

 

You weren’t expecting a pandemic in the middle of your attachment! How did it affect your attachment and the production?

I know that the schedule had to extend somewhat, just because of COVID. They got separated obviously at Level 4; Peter in his household and then Matthew in his household built a bubble in Level 3 just so they could keep working.

And they did keep me in the loop as well ‘cause I got sent cuts of the film to view, and I got all of Peter’s notes on them! He would add his thoughts for himself on every piece of feedback that he’d gotten, whether it was from the distributors or the producers or whoever, so I actually got to see a pretty interesting insight.

It was good, because despite the distance through the first lockdown, I was still able to be part of it. I think there were a couple of phone calls here and there as well – that was the best part about being in person – hearing him speak and listening to him talk about his approaches to things.

I think what I liked about him so much is he’s very honest. He’s not really sugar coating things, like that’s what I really wanted in the attachment anyway.

 

And that’s obviously the way he works as well with his collaborators?

Yeah. I mean, he’s honest, but that doesn’t mean he’s arrogant or anything. He’s very willing to admit, ‘Just go through the process.’

It’s almost like, from what I saw, yes, there is a process, but there’s an enormous amount of time you have to spend on the ups and downs and dealing with all the feedback because it has to get done eventually. And there’s only so much time you can spend doing it, that the budget can afford.

 

That must’ve been quite a new thing seeing how much feedback is involved in a feature?

I’d seen it on a very small level on shorts or TV commercials that I’d cut. But obviously this is a lot bigger and everything ‘cause how do you keep track of everything that’s in the film! If so-and-so said to take out this line about that, you’re still trying to be aware of how is this going to affect the rest of the film.

 

You got to sit in and observe the director and the editor before the producer meetings. How was that?

It was good. There were very measured debates that were going on about things. Sometimes it was like, ‘do we need this?’, whether it came from Peter or from Matthew. It was interesting going through their process and I think most of the decisions that were made were ultimately ones they both agreed with in the end. ‘Cause you know, so much in the editing is, weirdly enough, about losing stuff. About getting rid of things that are sort of superfluous.

 

Later, there was also feedback from the sales agent, right?

Yeah, I was looped in. I believe it was only emails through the sales agent because I think they were based in Germany? So there were lots of emails and everything that I was given access to by Peter, which was good. And again, he let me know his thoughts on everything, like how he reacted to it and some of it he would try to interpret.

 

Were you there during the test screenings?

I couldn’t go. But I was given – I think it was a 60-page document – from marketing. It was interesting because I’d never cut anything where the demographic was such a huge consideration.

 

So then you have to figure out what is relevant within that 60-page document?

Yeah, and it’s not just that. Probably while you’re editing, you’re very aware of the target audience and the film. Trying to think about that when you’re cutting was an interesting concept to me.

I believe for this film it was an older audience demographic. With a children’s movie you’re like, ‘Okay, yup, yup. I was a child once.’ But I’m not older than I am! Part of me was like, what would my mum like? [laughs] But you know, I’m not making decisions. I was just trying to picture it in my head.

Ultimately, you’re trying to please the director and you’re trying to appease whoever has the most financial interest in how it’s going to perform. And it’s about trying to strike a balance between that, trying to keep everyone happy, while feeling like you’re not doing something that you strongly disagree with. Ultimately, you want to work on something that the compromises you can live with.

 

What was your experience like observing them locking the film?

I went to Peter’s as it went down to Level 2.5. He’d sent me the last cut the night before to watch, and the next day I went round to his place and he took me through the final cutting to lock the film.

Peter told me that when you get to this stage, you should go back and look at your initial cut. I took this in two ways: to look at your initial instincts versus what you may have taken out to get the film down to a tighter runtime.

He told me that he’d gone back and looked at one of the first cuts on one of the more visually dramatic sequences that bridged the first and second act. He’d realised that the initial pacing of the sequence was far more effective in the earlier version. I don’t believe any of this was part of the feedback, he was simply trying to make the sequence more effective.

 

Did you find doing the attachment beneficial to you?

It was really beneficial. It sort of eased my worries about ever doing a feature a little bit. I mean in theory it’s the same thing, whether you’re doing a short film or a commercial or what have you. Everything has the same philosophy behind it. You cut for the same reason. You cut because you think it’s going to make the audience feel something, and it’s like you’re just applying it to something bigger and way more complicated.

 

What’s next for you?

I’ve got to pay the bills, so I’d like to do work with more of a financial incentive, which would give me the freedom to work on lower budget projects that might get me more exposure.

I’d really like to cut an indie feature as my first feature with some exciting filmmakers because it’s a good stepping stone. I’m sure I’d like to do more shorts, but I feel I need to step up to the challenge.

 


The DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment Scheme is funded by the New Zealand Film Commission.

Juniper is set to release in 2021.

After unveiling a brand new look and identity, Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival has announced the highly-anticipated programme for its online and in cinema programme.

Congratulations to all of the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ members who have been selected to play in the 2020 festival! We strongly encourage you to support these filmmakers and your film community by packing out limited cinema screenings or renting Kiwi films to enjoy at home. DEGNZ members are eligible for concession prices where offered.

The Girl on the Bridge

Directed by member and NZ Arts Laureate Leanne Pooley and edited by DEGNZ board member Margot Francis, The Girl on the Bridge follows the inspiring journey of 21-year-old Jazz Thornton during the pivotal two-year period she was emerging out of her own struggles with suicide to become a powerful advocate for mental health.

The feature documentary is set to have its world premiere at NZIFF on July 25, 4pm at ASB Waterfront Theatre, then available online and in select venues.

 

The Girl on the Bridge

New Zealand’s Best 2020

This year, director Tusi Tamasese was the guest curator for this competitive short film programme, selecting the top six finalists. Four of the six feature the talents of DEGNZ members.

Set in 1973, Oranges & Lemons tells a bullied girl’s story to find her voice in the strangest place, directed by Robyn Grace and edited by Kerri Roggio.

Anna Duckworth‘s Pain, Claire van Beek‘s Daniel and Cian Elyse White‘s debut short Daddy’s Girl (Kōtiro) were made through the NZ Film Commission’s Fresh Shorts initiative. Pain explores a young girl’s earth-shattering realisation that her father is not invincible and is edited by member Brendon Chan.

Daniel will have its NZ premiere at Whānau Mārama after its world premiere at MIFF and in competition selection for Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. The film was edited by John Gilbert and member Conan Mornard-Stott.

Cut by Annie Collins, Daddy’s Girl (Kōtiro) is a story about the powerful love between a father and his daughter in the face of a painful truth.

The programme will be in cinema at select venues or online from July 26 – August 1. If you watch NZ’s Best, make sure you vote for the Audience Choice Award.

 

Oranges and Lemons, Pain, Daniel, Daddy's Girl (Kōtiro)

Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2020

For the first time, Ngā Whanaunga will be a competitive programme. Purea is written and directed by Kath Akuhata-Brown. Māori elder Hamo must bear the burden of carrying the spirits of her ancestors to their sacred mountain.

Ngā Whanaunga will premiere in cinema on July 26 and is available to watch online from July 27 – 2 August.

 

Purea

Kiwi Shorts

Kiwi Shorts is a curation of six New Zealand shorts that the Festival promises will put a smile on your face. Garage Stories: A Strange Collective Experience of Isolation, directed by Catherine Bisley, captures our nation’s recent experience under Level 4 lockdown.

Two nine-year-old girls find an enterprising way to satisfy their craving for ice cream in Ruby Abbott HarrisTriple Scoop. The programme also features Missy Fishy from director Erin Murphy – a whimsical tale about Miss Fish, a super mum, who struggles to tame her otherworldly urges.

Available to rent from August 1 – 7.

 

Garage Stories, Triple Scoop, Missy Fishy

Rūrangi

Premiering at the Festival and directed by DEGNZ member Max Currie, Rūrangi is New Zealand’s first transgender drama series. Made by gender-diverse talent, the drama is about a burnt-out trans activist returning to the rural dairy community from which he fled ten years ago. All five episodes have been programmed together as a special festival presentation, which will have its world premiere in cinema at ASB Waterfront Theatre in Auckland, on July 26, 7pm. You can also rent it online between July 26 – August 1.

 

 

Tickets for the Festival’s premiere screenings go on sale from July 10 and rental options can be purchased from the first available screening date, starting July 25. If you’re planning to watch at home, NZIFF suggests you start getting ready: set up your account, test, browse and start planning.

Tema Pua
Events & Marketing Manager

NZIFF 2019

Tonight, the New Zealand International Film Festival opens and with that, we congratulate members of the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ who have films in this year’s programme.

For My Father’s Kingdom

For My Father’s Kingdom premieres at home at the Civic Theatre after its Berlinale world premiere earlier this year. This debut feature documentary is co-directed by Vea Mafile’o (DEGNZ) and Jeremiah Tauamiti, and follows the story of Vea’s father Saia Mafile’o. The film is edited by Guild board member Margot Francis.

Vea and Jeremiah were part of our Documentary Editing Masterclass with their film in 2017 with US editor Doug Blush.

Join them for a Q+A after at screenings in Auckland and Wellington (August 10). Flicks also asked the directors eight questions about their film.

 

For My Father's Kingdom

New Zealand’s Best 2019

Congratulations to our members whose short films have been selected by Jane Campion for the only competitive programme at NZIFF, New Zealand’s Best 2019. Egg Cup Requiem is co-directed by DEGNZ’s Prisca Bouchet with Nick Mayow. Krystal is edited by Cushla Dillon and Hinekura is the new film from director Becs Arahanga about a young woman’s rite of passage upon her first menstruation in 1600s Aotearoa.

Tickets are officially selling fast for the Auckland screening on Saturday 27 July.

 

Egg Cup Requiem, Krystal, Hinekura

Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2019

Ngā Whanaunga features Liliu, edited by former DEGNZ president Peter Roberts and Rū, cut by longtime board member Annie Collins.

Ways to See is written and directed by Jessica Sanderson, edited by Anastasia Doniants and made under Fresh 30. We do love a DEGNZ director-editor team up. Ways to See follows the attempts of a young Māori girl to reconnect with her absent father. Anastasia Doniants is also the editor on a second film here, Ani.

 

Liliu, Ways to See, Ru, Ani

Short Connections

Already sold out in Auckland and Wellington, Short Connections includes director Armagan Ballantyne’s collaboration with Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, Hush. Walk a Mile is edited by Janine Frei, and Memory Foam by editor Chia Hsu.

Across all the shorts programmes, it’s exciting to see so many Guild editors with work playing at this year’s festival.

 

Hush, Walk a Mile, Memory Foam

Herbs: Songs of Freedom

The curtains will close on the Auckland NZIFF programme with the World Premiere of Herbs: Songs of Freedom, an affectionate tribute to the iconic Kiwi band Herbs. The documentary is the latest editing collaboration between DEGNZ board member Francis Glenday and director/editor Tearepa Kahi, following POI E: The Story of our Song. POI E opened NZIFF 2016 and was nominated for Best Documentary Editor at the Rialto Channel NZ Film Awards.

Herbs: Songs of Freedom is bound to be another uplifting (and super catchy) local cinematic pleasure.

 

Herbs: Songs of Freedom

 

As a film community, support your fellow filmmakers and enjoy your time at NZIFF!

Members, don’t forget you can receive discounts on select screenings and the Masterclass with Thom Zimny. Check your inbox for the DEGNZ discount code in current newsletters.

Tema Pua
Events & Marketing Manager

Daffodils is a bittersweet love story told with beautiful re-imaginings of iconic New Zealand songs. Directed by DEGNZ member David Stubbs, the musical stars Rose McIver, George Mason and Kimbra.

Catch the film at this Rialto Film Talk screening as it first arrives in cinemas! We’ll be joined by writer Rochelle Bright for a half-hour Q&A after. She has had major success with this screenplay as a stage show that’s been performed all over the country and now it’s hitting the big screen.

Screenlink: The Making of Daffodils

Join DEGNZ and SPADA on March 13 for a relaxed evening with guests director David Stubbs and producer Richard Fletcher.

David and Richard will share on the trials and tribulations, plusses and pleasures of making Kiwi musical Daffodils. The film had its world premiere on Valentine’s Day at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, and opens in NZ cinemas on March 21.

WHEN:  Wed 13 March, 6PM
WHERE:  Random Group – The Hub, 43 Hanson Street, Mt Cook, Wellington

Drinks BYO

DEGNZ / SPADA members – Free
Non-members – $5 koha appreciated

A joint event between the Directors and Editors Guild of NZ and the Screen Production and Development Association of NZ. 

Event Registration

Please register your attendance.

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