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The BSS Collection 2014

Here’s our round-up of all screeNZ’s coverage of the 2014 Big Screen Symposium, plus a few tasty morsels from elsewhere.


Ahead of the event, there was the orchestrated rolling out of presenters, from the first of the major international speakers, producer Alix Madigan, through scriptwriter and showrunner Lee Aronsohn, who teased out ideas for a NZ-set script. Just over a week out from opening the doors, organisers named the final piece of the jigsaw, The Babadook’s Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent.

For the Symposium’s third time around, there was still plenty of freshness about the programme.

NZ features have had an exceptional year so far, both on the international festival circuit and (in most cases) at the local box office. Exploring what went right was the subject of a number of sessions, including Tom Hern and James Napier Robertson talking The Dark Horse, plus

Of the internationals, Alix Madigan pulled double duty, as did Peter Mullan, both presenting masterclasses devoted to their respective specialisms and also taking part in In Conversation sessions.

Lee Aronsohn’s session, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Bitter trod a line along the edge of humour, entertaining some and offending others. Director Jennifer Kent talked even scarier stuff.

The new-this-year NZFC CEO Dave Gibson used his address to lay out more of his vision for where the NZFC will go under his watch, and the road it will travel to get there. He spoke on confirmed changes for short film funding; clarified the options for features, including lower budget options; and announced the three teams joining Libertine as recipients of Business Development Scheme funding.

Film festival success never hurts and ex-pat Kiwi and Berlinale programmer Maryanne Redpath joined Melbourne’s Al Cossar to offer some pointers on how to get through the doors.

Gaylene Preston spoke about the much-anticipated and inevitably divisive Hope & Wire, just ahead of its trip to the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Two sessions took very different looks at what’s going on, going off and coming up in the online space. One panel examined the commercial opportunities of partnering with brands; the other looked at more independent content creators. The day before BSS opened, NZ On air ramped up interest in the digital space, announcing a $1M co-production fund for digital projects with the Canada Media Fund and, less than a week after the BSS closed, announced the recipients of the latest round of its Digital Media Fund‘s largesse. Beneficiaries included panel member Kerry Warkia, whose Brown Sugar Apple Grunt was supported to create an app for its previously NZOA-supported kids’ webseries Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life.

Script to Screen’s Big Screen Symposium 2014 ran 27 – 28 September at the University of Auckland.

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