The conference day began with the signing of a co-production treaty and closed with the presentation of awards, one of which went to a filmmaker currently overseas.
Beginning the day, Minister Maggie Barry completed the signing of the co-production treaty with Poland, with the Polish Ambassador Zbigniew Gniatkowski. Speaking of his homeland’s screen friendly offer, Ambassador Gniatkowski noted contributions from Roman Polanski, this year’s foreign language Oscar winner Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski and an increasing amount of inbound production activity, including a shoot for the recently-released Bridge of Spies by Steven Spielberg – the only person whose name seemed not to include a winter sport.
Phil Wallington, “still here and still gobby” per Jane Wrightson’s introduction, explained his politics as a physical imperative.
“With one leg shorter than the other, I’m naturally left-leaning,” he began, before his John O’Shea Memorial Address delivered a rousing homage to television journalism of a quality that’s increasingly unwelcome on screens here and elsewhere.
During lunch, the audiences heard the participants of this year’s South Pacific Pictures Big Pitch, mostly for features but with some TV and web content too. The very popular, if almost tearful, winner was Nick Ward for his pitch for feature The Printer.
The day’s last session was an entertaining if not overly practical Marketplace Live, an exploration of how to put together a feature. Led by Angus Finney, egged on by the audience, a panel of producer Ben Grant, funder Dave Gibson, financier Sharon Menzies, sales agent Paul Davis and distributor Elizabeth Trotman spent 90 minutes aiding and abetting one another on the journey to turn a treatment for horror-comedy Tinder Troll (in which an old Australian serial killer uses an app to find his old female victims). Shaun of the Dead meets Hip Hop-eration was declared a horr-edy and, eventually, won Sundance and a generous P&A commitment from Harvey Weinstein, proving we were firmly in fictionland.
The day wrapped with the SPADA Industry Awards, which two out of three winners were on hand to collect.
New Filmmaker awardee Alyx Duncan was experiencing a humid day in Bangkok, researching with Lani-Rain Feltham for upcoming feature The Surrogate, when she heard of her wins at both SPADA and, the previous evening, at Show Me Shorts where The Tide Keeper had won Show Me Shorts’ Best Film award.
Bangkok was possibly a better place to win than the wet and windy days Auckland and Wellington put on.
Of the SPADA award, Duncan said from Bangkok, “It’s super lovely the local industry is encouraging me to continue making films. I’ve had amazing mentors including my recent attachment on The Rehearsal (whose director Alison Maclean collected the SPADA award on Duncan’s behalf).
“Much of my recent work has been made with huge in-kind support from equipment and post houses (Park Road Post, Panavision, Queenstown Camera, Envy Studios, Toy Box, Mandy, Inside Track) as well as very generous and skilled crews. There’s no way my films could have grown up to live in the world the way they have without all these people and companies’ help. The award feels like it acknowledges the contribution of all these people who’ve worked with me.”
This year’s SPADA Conference ran 12 – 13 November in Wellington.