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.)