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Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

(short) script to screen

Went along to this event last night, Script To Screen's first foray into Wellington territory. There was bit of talk about how they were really excited to be there and looking forward to similar things next year - but it does rub in how Auckland-centric the NZ film industry is. Of course "they" is essentially one person who's doing a great job with the revitalised organisation, but doing it once off exemplified the possibilities and the demand for such events by/for non-Auckland filmmakers.

ANYWAY. It was a pretty good night, despite technical difficulties, mostly related to the insufficient length of mic cords and to Taika throwing scalding hot green tea in his own lap. Very good turn out in the lovely Katipo cafe (my favourite place to go for hot chocolate, other than Bridgit at the Opera house, obv). Te Radar was the MC for the night and the three panellists were all short filmmakers with varying levels of experience and plans of attack, but who have all (eventually) received NZFC funding and been screened at international festivals.

Zia Mandviwalla is the writer/director of Eating Sausage. This film had its production funded by the SIPF and post by NZFC. I haven't actually seen it, but Zia talked about it being inspired by her own experiences of being an immigrant to New Zealand and specifically by her interaction teaching English as a second language to older Asian women here.
Zia had some interesting stuff to say about getting a full blown film degree as opposed to spending the money on a camera and getting stuck in, which is what she did. She also mentioned a couple of times that a important part of the process for her, as a writer, as interacting with actors. She said that something might read really well on the page but sound terrible coming out their mouths. You have to let them contribute and inhabite your script, for the authencity it will bring to the finished product.

Writer/director of the short films Two Cars, One Night and Tama Tu and up-coming feature, Eagle Vs Shark, Taika Waititi was no stranger to the crowd there. It was great getting to know Taika when I was working at NZFC, he was not one of the asshat directors that i wanted to slam the phone down on and rip up the contracts of. Ahem.
He talked about short films being a great genre for experimenting with and that moving into feature length doesn't mean abandoning the other permanently. An example given was shooting on HD, doing a short film on this at some stage maybe.

Thirdly, Veialu Aila-Unsworth, writer/director of Blue Willow, which screened in the Homegrown section of the NZIFF and went on to be selected for the Berlin Festival. I met Veialu when i helped her fax her forms to confirm attendance to this festival. I remember thinking at the time 'primo! that film was gorgeous'. It was even lovelier to learn that it was a year-long Masters project that she had no lofty ambitions for. Veialu talked a bit about processes and how sometimes about change your mind, do something different, come back round to the original concept - and that can all be part of the process of getting to where you're supposed to be. She gave the example of animating her lead character's face, but Te Radar chipped in with how it applied with his television writing.
I didn't actually know he had a TV show but I don't actually watch TV so shame on my name.

Te Radar asked at one point about who do you show your drafts to and Veialu admitted with a laugh that she shows her mum. She said that maybe because she's not involved in the industry in any way, she can offer great perspective on scripts. Zia said that, yes, her mum too gets a look-in but not on scripts. She uses her "Indian housewife" mother for screenings of rough cuts and finds the feedback really useful. Taika then stated that he'd never show his mum his draft scripts. Apparently she's an English teacher and would just mark them.

Just to wrap up, one of my favourite things was something Zia said. They were talking about instinct and the little voice inside you and getting overloaded with other people chipping in on ideas for your script or whatever. Zia was giving an example of how it can be quite hard when someone says to you 'oh but you have to put this in/change this bit because of this this this,,,' with really bulletproof justification and yet it doesn't feel quite right to you and your guts saying no but how do you use that as a comeback? But Zia was like "Your gut is justification!" and there were all these heads nodding in the crowd, it was classic.

PS i was going to give this some kind of headline working in my other favourite quote of the night ("I peed myself") but just couldn't do it.... Oscar Nominee Green Tea Pee Chaos was as good as got...



Blogger Lou said...

Sounds like a great event - I think it's good for people to find out different methods by which people became "legit" (ie funded) filmmakers, though it would be especially helpful at high school level. Really, some people are better to pick up a camera, and others are better to study, but everyone is best to combine every shred of experience in every avenue of life to combine it into some sort of something... and they don't tend to tell us that at school (how many people naively leave university with a degree and wait to be handed their career?).

Taika's mum is, I believe, rather differently-tasted to Taika. My basis for this is that she read a draft of my show Hate Crimes and, well, thought it should not be allowed to make it to stage. Or something like that. (whereas Taika drew our highly un-PC teaser advertising cartoon)

Fri Sep 29, 12:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Define short film maker - 5ft5 or lower??

Sun Oct 01, 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, cheeky comment came from Suse

Sun Oct 01, 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Bel said...

oh please Suse- you know I regard anyone less than 5 ft 9 as a pipsqueak!!
no no, only one of the short filmmakers could be counted as a short short filmmaker (Zia) -the rest just have to cope with the awkwardly descriptive title!

and Lou- yeah I agree- could have been a case of useful info coming a little too late, but there were a few young uns in the crowd too. Creative types still need to get better clued-up on the funding avenues and what paths are available and what will suit them... That kind of knowledge will really help with goal-setting and planning projects. Its just about being in the best position to access the cash!!

Sun Oct 01, 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Lou said...

Whilst I was in the USA the latest height statistics came out confirming that I am indeed half an inch taller than the average American female.


Tue Oct 03, 10:11:00 PM  

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