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Showing posts from April, 2009

Gender & the Terms of Reference for a Review of Film Commission Act 1978

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Often, New Zealand feature filmmakers want some version of this New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) logo in their credits. It signifies investment from our state-funded film agency, which may also have helped the producer(s) find other investment. Over the last 30 years the NZFC has developed, funded, marketed and sold most New Zealand films that are well known internationally—Heavenly Creatures, Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider. And many other movies that New Zealanders love to watch. The NZFC also provides 'pathways' to making features, programmes like the Short Film Fund and the First Writers Initiative.But, as I showed in my PhD Report for People Who’ve Helped Me and discussed in a recent interview in TAKE, the Screen Directors Guild magazine, the NZFC’s programmes tend not to work well for women. Women filmmakers' low participation in state-funded programmesBetween 2003-2008 women wrote and directed only 16% of features the NZFC funded for production, although in 2008 N…

Katrina del Mar from New York, courtesy cherry bomb comics

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You lucky Aucklanders. A visiting filmmaker, organised by those wonderful women @ cherry bomb comics. And some local shorts. The Wine Cellar. Thursday. 8pm. (Tx Heather, will be in touch soon.)

Twittering (cont'd) & Blogging; & A Parallel Universe for Women's Filmmaking

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Twittering
I'm still uncertain about Twittering. I like sending little messages when I can't manage a full blog post. But other people's tweets frustrate me. What about cooktips' fondued leeks? What was he eating them with?  What's the best bread for his Sunday chicken and mayo sandwich? What about melsil's dog Duke? What does he look like? Do people in New York ever have big dogs? And what about all those voorgreen messages about Standing Woman? If I send emails every time I wonder at a tweet, I'll be emailing for ever.


But after many mentions of Standing Woman I couldn't stop myself. Who, I asked voorgreen (scriptwriting maven Linda Voorhees) is Standing Woman? Here's her response, with Standing Woman's photo above:
The Standing Woman is positioned in UCLA's Murphy Garden which has become the crown jewel of the campus.  She remains in vigil at the base of the footbridge, which means virtually every person who walks through campus must pass he…

"Development" Reading

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It was a bit messy at the beginning. I had to hand round my ethics forms, give a quick update on the progress of my PhD (the larger context for Development), assign some small parts. I struggled more than I'd thought I would in a room filled with people I knew; I was clumsy. Too many days alone at the table, tapping away on my laptop. 
But I enjoyed it. A little. And it was lovely to be able to say that the Victoria Foundation will be our charitable umbrella, so donors—here and in some overseas countries—get tax benefits. To be able to mention Women Make Movies and fiscal sponsorship, that we're experimenting with a model that may also work for other women filmmakers here.

Then the actors read. It was just like Monday, when two of the actors practised.The 34 pages I selected—the arc of Emily's story—took on a life of their own. Again. Wow, I thought. These actors, all of them also writers and/or visual artists and/or directors, will do it extra specially well, add so much. T…

Sally Potter & Money; & John Berger

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Sally Potter's last blog entry was her stunning Barefoot Filmmaking manifesto. I'm not going to quote from it. It deserves to be read as a whole. 
Her latest response to a comment on her site is about money, money, money and films. 
Her clarity and her courage make me cry.
(Her The Gold Diggers (1983) was an inspiration for some bits of Development. And I can't wait to see her latest film, RAGE. Here's a still from it, of Judi Dench.)



When I saw the picture of Sally Potter's boots that seemed an ideal way to show her. These two recent postings are so generous; I can now imagine a little of what it means to stand in those boots (while filming barefoot).
And then, still looking at photographs, I found this article about her, in Vertigo, by John Berger, another of my all-time heroes.
So I'm sitting here in the twilight thinking that these gifts may be a sign, just when I need one. 
Tomorrow some amazing actors will read 34 pages of Development for a little audience of wr…

Massify and Killer Films want you!

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Remember when Christine Vachon from Killer Films visited to New Zealand last year (& the impressive way she juggled two Blackberries, according to my Auckland mate who went along to hear her speak)? She didn't give a talk in Wellywood but I love her books and always go to see a new Killer film asap.  And now, via the San Francisco International Women's Film Festival, here's news about an initiative we can take part in (if we can manage the May 14 deadline). 
Christine Vachon writes about the project on Indiewire and the details are here (including some comments from New Zealand's own Leo Woodhead). This is the intro: Massify and Killer Films (Boys Don't Cry, Kids, Far From Heaven ) have joined forces to create a provocative and humorous short film developed entirely through the Massify production network. At the forefront of independent cinema, Killer is looking for an outsider's story, the kind you don't normally hear about. But this project really belon…

Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (cont'd)

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Best opening day, best opening weekend for a doco in New Zealand, ever, according to an article on the big idea/ te aria nui(home of NZ's creative community, I read it with enthusiasm, every week). 
Just for fun, I looked at how Mamma Mia went in New Zealand cinemas, on Box Office Mojo. Its opening weekend here ranks at 65, way down the list. BUT its final gross was THIRD, behind Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and Shrek 2.
So I'm cheering. Because I love Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls and because it may provide a local example of a 'women's' film that opens comparatively slowly (though wonderfully for a doco) and then goes for it. If that happens, it should help all New Zealand women filmmakers. 


Here's another pic of them, by Sally Tagg, to celebrate.

Aren't blogs wonderful?

I'm thrilled. All these responses. 
Two quince-related requests. I'll drop the paste in town when I'm passing, carry some jam up the coast to Otaki on the bus, soon, on a sunny day . 
An experimental tweet from a non-Twitterer:My turnips are like white balls of black pepper. Wilt the greens too, gloss with extra virgin and taste the time of year. alexmackay.com137 Characters, he said. Do the spaces count? (Yes.)
And someone's asked me: What do I think about the review of the New Zealand Film Commission, being done by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage? 
There's lots I have no idea about, and I haven't read much about what others think since John Barnett's piece in OnFilm.
But I have some ideas—of course—about how the Film Commission could improve women writers' and directors' participation in feature making. 
The present 'pathways' to making a Film Commission-funded feature are not working for women. We're well represented as documentary mak…

Twittering & Writing

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Last week, the lovely script whizz Linda Voorhees invited me to Twitter. And having followed her through her stunning exposition of master scenes, taglines and page 60, I'd pretty much follow her anywhere (and am thrilled she's now got a channel on YouTube—Voorgreen, and is teaching online). So I joined.
But I'm ambivalent about Twitter although I love watching the character countdown: 140, 123, 81, 2, 1.  It could be a lot of fun, getting the most out of those 140 characters. But I'm feeling a bit of keyboard overload: scripts, thesis, three email addresses, txt, and now Twitter--
And I've just read a 2003 interview with novelist Zadie Smith (pictured) that helped me understand why. I can't wait for her new book Fail Better, about writers,due this month; I read her stunning "Fail better" article in the Guardian ages ago, and it helped me understand my writing process, but the link no longer works. According to her, writing "is a wonderful job...&q…

Trouble the Water

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Down at the Paramount, this year's World Cinema Showcase has just ended.  Sixteen features, just one with a woman writer/director, Joanna Hogg's Unrelated. I'm sad I missed Unrelated; I don't want to miss a single opportunity to see a film a woman's written and directed, because I think about how we work, all the time at the moment.Jenny Lumet wrote the screenplay for another Showcase film, Rachel Getting Married. Women co-writers on Quiet Chaos. Fugitive Pieces came from a novel a woman wrote. Missed all those, too.
But I got to Trouble the Water last night and am so glad I did. I haven't seen Age of Stupid yet. But reading about it and watching the making-of doco, and feeling proud that New Zealand woman Lizzie Gillett produced Age of Stupid, I've tried to imagine how things might be here because of climate change. How I might cope in a climate disaster. Always a possibility in this wild and windy city, at the edge of a little Pacific island.
If you haven&#…

Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls @ the Penthouse

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It was a gorgeous Easter Sunday. No wind. I picked some apples and tomatoes first thing, wrote like crazy. Picked the most perfect late quinces for a mate, who brought me some coffee grounds for the compost.
And then, off to the Penthouse. Not a huge audience, but very diverse, from some little kids to the very old, couples—some apparently heterosexual, some apparently gay, some recognisable activists and some (since the film's 'a love letter to New Zealand' and we New Zealanders don't like to mention this group the next word's a whisper) intellectuals. Maybe Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is going to follow a known pattern with 'women's' films, and it will take the audience a little while to go to see it. And a wet day or two. 

At the end, just before the credits, the cinema was silent. And out of the silence came a single voice saying "Lovely". And it was. Just lovely. 

I was especially moved when I saw and heard singer, songwriter and activist …

Jane Campion on fearlessness and common sense

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After a couple of months there, I'm used to my little office at the Institute of Modern Letters, no longer feel so awkward. I'm familiar with the machines, know that the toaster takes the same time to brown the bread as the photocopier takes to print a 90 page script.  And the flowering cherry tree's right outside (leaves just starting to shrivel) if I glance up from the computer. I can see people going into the gym next door or down the stairs at the side of the building. Sometimes they glance in and smile at me and I smile back, wave. Sometimes, unnoticed, I watch passersby and eavesdrop.  Sometimes, perhaps, unnoticed by me, people look through the window and see some tomato slide off the toast as I lift it to my mouth. When I'm reading.
Almost everything I've read for the PhD is now in my server-based  bibliography—621 items—creative industries, autoethnography, ethics (complicated because of the continuum from social science to creative writing to film producti…

Ah, it's not just Petone and Pauatahanui

And then someone suggested "But isn't the Topp Twins a Penthouse-type movie"? So I checked the next day's paper. And so it is. Lots of sessions, not too far from home. But I'm still a bit cranky. I wanted the occasion to be like the first night of Scorcese's Shine a Light Rolling  Stones film, a packed and excited Embassy, a wander home along Oriental Bay afterwards.

Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls @ the Penthouse

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Today's the day. 
Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is opening in Wellywood. I can't wait to see it. Even the trailer brought tears to my eyes AND made me laugh. And remember the past.
It reminded me a little of Margot Francis' classic Two Gals from Tuatapere and another 1987 film, Mangawhai Film Festival. It gave me the same wonderful feelings as "Young@heart". 
And I predict it'll be New Zealand's Mamma Mia here and in Australia and maybe in a whole lot of other places. 
So why is it not opening in central Wellington? Just in little neighbourhood cinemas far away from me, at Petone and Pauatahanui, those lucky people there. Can I get there, on this wintry pre-Easter break day? 
Here's the trailer.

Harvest time

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Waiting for some quinces to heat. They drop to the ground outside my window: THUMP. It seems no time since they and my poppies were in full bloom.
And this year I've been using Elizabeth David's recipes from her French Provincial Cooking, a book I love to read before going to sleep. Marmelade de coings (quince marmalade—the word 'marmalade' reached French and English via the Portuguese name for quince, 'marmelo', according to Elizabeth D) and Pate de Coings, quince paste. Lots and lots of it and I've run out of people to give it to.
The other thing I've been doing in the evenings is watching Charlie Rose. I think his interviews are magic, with film writers and directors as well as lots of others. My favorite so far is the episode with three Mexican filmmakers, including Guillermo del Toro, who's here in Wellywood working on The Hobbit right now. Their love and support for each other just shone and provided a great model for generosity among artists.
I …

Sunshine Cleaning

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A new film from New Zealand director, Christine Jeffs (Rain, Sylvia) written by Megan Holley. And from the trailer it looks great. Hope it gets to New Zealand soon. 
It's doing well in the United States. 
Women & Hollywood has the details and a review
View the trailer here.

The weekend of  3-5 April, Sunshine Cleaning was 10 at the U.S. box office, had the fourth highest average take per cinema and was expanding into more cinemas.