Making more fish: Meeting with NZ filmmakers and talking shop

Just got back from a lovely evening with filmmakers Lyn Collie (producer) and Briar March (director) who I mentioned in my first post after landing in New Zealand.  It was a fun and interesting time, hearing about their work, talking a bit about Kiwi politics, and drooling over getting funded by HBO — uh, can someone say “filmmakers’ wet dream”?  Yes, HBO’s the holy grail, I agree with Lyn.

Filmmaker Briar March (left) and me in Auckland

It’s amazing to me how small the industry is here, at least in terms of degrees of separation, and how that can be both really beneficial but at times also detrimental.  After dinner, Briar and I hung around a bit talking about all sorts of things, but per her suggestion, I wanted to mention fish.  Yes, fish.  Because New Zealand’s small in a way that other countries and industries aren’t necessarily — I’m thinking the U.S. for sure, but also maybe even England, and to a slight extent Canada — there are more people seeking opportunities to make projects (and make money at them) than there are opportunities.  Briar likened money to fish: in the New Zealand film/TV industry there are more people than fish.

So the question that we pondered was about collaboration, forming alternative models to benefit more people and create more money that everyone can share equally.  Sustainability — can it be achieved?  How DO you create and maximize collaborative opportunities through new models of production?  And also, how do you do it in New Zealand (or really anywhere there are more people than fish)?  As Briar said, “how do you make more fish”?

It’s a question I’m asking anyone who’s willing to consider it — Briar’s to blame for getting my brain working overtime! I like to solve problems, but this is a systemic problem, I think, or maybe not a problem, just a reality.  It’s about the culture of the industry, and even the culture of a people.  How do you change that?  How do you introduce a new idea, or an idea that is informed by a different perspective than what’s “worked,” or at least been status quo, up until now?

Also had an exciting meeting earlier in the afternoon with an Auckland filmmaker who’s made a documentary on roller derby.  She’s still finishing the project and will be rolling out different components of it and more information on it in the near future (I hope, since I can’t wait to see this film!)  Talking transmedia is always exciting, although we discussed marketing and distribution, too, the latter being a beast that always befuddles me!

I hope to connect with Lyn and Briar again toward the end of the month.  They’re working on some exciting things, and it was such a pleasure to reconnect with them; very generous and gracious people.  Briar’s off to Waiheke Island this weekend, too, to screen a film.  So watch for more — and a picture of all of us together, I hope!  One for the scrapbook.

(These are just my observations from having chatted with filmmakers about the Kiwi film industry as well as having spent some time studying in Canada and learning about that industry, with which New Zealand seems to have a bit in common.  I am truly interested in hearing different points of view and hearing from New Zealand filmmakers about this question of opportunity.)

Kia ora: Her Film lands in Auckland, New Zealand

Back in lovely Auckland, having landed this morning after a long flight from Los Angeles.  I love the feel of this city and might just brave the wind, rain and chilly air later today to find some tasty grub and snap a few pictures.  For now, this is my view out my window (in a nice quiet hotel in the Parnell neighborhood).

A chilly, windy and rainy Parnell, Auckland.

So I’m in Auckland for just a few days, here in Parnell on my own with a brief meeting tomorrow with a couple of filmmakers I know: Briar March and Lyn Collie.  Briar is the director of There Once Was An Island: Te Henua e Nnoho, with Lyn as producer, a fantastic film about the rapid climate changes in the Mortlock Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean (also known as Takuu).  I worked with them for a bit last year (unrelated to Her Film) and loved learning about their project.  It’s played in dozens of festivals, won awards and is one of the first documentary films about some of the world’s first environmental refugees.  Looking forward to meeting with them.

On Friday (which will still be Thursday for some of the rest of the world), I’m off to a three night screening of Maori women filmmakers on Waiheke Island just a few minutes’ ferry ride from Auckland.  An invitation from Susi Newborn of Women In Film and Television New Zealand (WIFTNZ) made me want to say “yes!” and so I’ll be enjoying that event over this weekend. I’m hoping to have some interviews, or at the very least, some great pictures from the screenings (and Waiheke Island), so watch for those over the next few days, along with a full report.

Whiti Whitiahua Wahine: Maori Women Film-Makers Waiheke Matariki Maori Women’s Film Festival

Next week, it’s off to Wellington to enjoy that gorgeous city, catch a few shows in the Embassy Theatre (one of the largest in the southern hemisphere and the place where Lords of the Rings premiered), and above all, connect with Marian Evans of the Wellywood Woman blog and podcast — so exciting!!!

Embassy Theatre (Wellington, New Zealand)