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Showing posts from December, 2009

Looking Towards a New World

Sometimes, people ask me: Why haven’t you taken the Film Commission route with Development ? Usually, I give a short, quick, answer: Because the Film Commission route takes too long. Give a little shrug. Move on. Because the longer answer is complicated. And I don’t really think about it now my PhD is handed in and I’m waiting for the examiners’ responses. But after a conversation with a filmmaker the other day I thought: It’s time to write a post about the origins of Development .

Moving forward

1. This is Ken Duncum , walking past the window next to my computer, as he often does. Under the cherry tree. He's the Michael Hirschfeld Director of Scriptwriting at Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML)—what a mouthful. And last month he won the 2010 New Zealand Post Mansfield Prize . Some of his eighty MA students—ten a year for eight years—may have been at the ceremony where NZ Post announced the award. Others, like me, were ghosts there, clapping as hard as we could. And whistling. Stamping our feet. Ken’s supervised my work for two and a half years now, for my MA and—as his first PhD candidate—for the second half of my PhD. So I guess I’m the luckiest student of all, to date. At law school, I encountered something called the ‘Socratic’ teaching method. I remember it as being brutal sometimes, and never particularly helpful for my learning. But with Ken I participated in another kind of Socratic teaching, a generous practice that e

Availability & the Privilege of Being Mad

I'm learning lots as I work on Development . About the availability—and unavailability—of actors, for instance. My head pops as I organise lists of days and times & dates when this one is here and that one is there and nearly everyone else is somewhere else: I'm a little dysnumeric in relation to time and dates and days of the week, & my usual strategies are sometimes not quite enough to cope with information about other people's timetables. (Fortunately, I can do sums in my head pretty well). I'm also learning that there's a lot of help, often unexpected. Close to hand (thank you all) and in cyberspace (thank you all). Just before Christmas I sent a slightly crazed message to Lisa Gornick, a filmmaker who makes beautiful drawings (have included her drawings here before), someone I met via a tweet that led me to a blog that linked to her blog . I wrote about my fears, and how curiosity keeps me going. Did any of my experience resonate with her? Here's

Peter Jackson: find, train, & support creative individuals, especially the writers

The New Zealand film industry's been waiting for the results of the review of the New Zealand Film Commission , due 30 November. And we know—we hope we know—that the review will reflect the concerns of Peter Jackson, who heads the review, assisted by David Court, Head of Screen Business at the Australian Film, Television & Radio School. So I was excited when I read Peter Jackson's recent comments to Michael Bodey, in the Australian : My only advice to anybody is that it's about individuals. The strength of a film industry is based totally on the strength of the individuals, the creative individuals working within it, the writers especially, the directors and the producers and whatever can be done to talent hunt, to find those people and then train them and support them. We're not talking about many people because in an environment where a lot of people want to be a filmmaker or think they can write a screenplay, not many people can, quite honestly, and it's a ca

It's about human rights-- I want equality (& equity)

Last month, Jane Campion spoke out again about women’s participation in filmmaking. This is what she said: I think women should be given 50% of the films to make. I'm not kidding! It'll change the world overnight. Women see things differently so it'll be better for's not fair. It's about human rights...I want equality. I thought of her statement as I read the latest New Zealand Film Commission newsletter. The best news is that of three feature writers chosen to work with Alan Sharp ( Dean Spanley ), two—Pip Hall and Fiona Samuel ( Piece of My Heart )—are women. But, of the six NZFC-funded features currently in post-production, only one has a woman writer/director, Simone Horrocks’ After the Waterfall . Expressed as a percentage, this project represents 16% of films produced this year, exactly the same as the NZFC’s overall record for the previous six years. Then I read about the Short Film Fund, where the NZFC invests in short films by up-and-

Bub Bridger

Wild, passionate, and funny-- And so generous. When Bub went to the International Feminist Book Fair in London in 1984 she took the biggest suitcase I'd ever seen, stuffed with books New Zealand women had written. Even though she struggled to carry anything heavy. It's her funeral today. She and I had a complex relationship that ended long ago; some of what I remembered when I heard of her death was very sad. And we loved many of the same people. Though I never quite got her obsession with All Black Gary Whetton. (Some of it was about his thighs. Understandably.) Down the road there's an expensive block of flats with a gardener. Who planted daisies. Not wild daisies, like those in Bub's famous poem, but very large and beautiful cultivated ones. For weeks I admired them and wanted to take a cutting to grow at home. Couldn't do it. Finally, I heard Bub's voice in my head. "Help yourself, darling", she said. (She always advocated courage. And I saw and ad