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SPADA announces 2016 award winners

Gaylene Preston was named the SPADA / Data Book / SCREENZ Industry Champion. Carthew Neal took the SPADA Independent Producer of the Year award, sponsored by Crombie Lockwood, and Yamin Tun took the SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year award, supported by Park Road Post.

Given the year that Neal and Tun have had, there was a certain inevitability about the some of the presentations of the three industry awards at the SPADA Conference this year.

Tun has seen her short Wait present its world premiere in Sydney and win the NZIFF’s NZ’s Best award here, before taking two more awards at Show Me Shorts. It’s got to be one of the ones to watch for the recently-announced NZ Film Awards. Tun herself has three features in development, and is currently participating in three separate industry development schemes: Script to Screen’s FilmUp and Story Camp Aotearoa, and DEGNZ’s incubator.

As Principal Sponsor of the Award, Park Road Post Production will provide Tun with post-production services worth $20,000, which she intends to use on her self-funded short Boy’s Day Out.

Tun said she hoped she would do us proud, and make some people some money, including herself. She also noted that she wanted to tell stories in an unflinching way. Tun thanked producers Vicky Pope and Daniel Higgins, who produced Wait. She also thanked the leaders of several guilds and the Film Commission’s talent development team.

If Tun has had a good year, Neal has had a stellar one. Producing Taika Waititi’s all-conquering Hunt for the Wilderpeople would probably have been more than enough to secure him the award for SPADA Independent Producer of the Year. But he also produced David Farrier and Dylan’s Reeves documentary Tickled, which has been no slouch itself in the international festival circuit and is currently among the titles vying for an Oscar nomination in the feature doco category.

Phil Howard from sponsor Crombie Lockwood and Bailey Mackey did the honours. “This year’s winner has done a lot to contribute to the NZ voice,” Mackey said. The winner had, Mackey said, “a majestical ability to get things done”.

Neal was also one of the producers on NZ On Air-Canada Media Fund’s recently-released digital co-pro I Spy (With My 5 Eyes, which also had Chasing Great director Justin Pemberton, on board.

Neal was in Berlin, so Mackey cheerfully accepted the bottle of champagne on his behalf.

Gaylene Preston was awarded SPADA / Data Book / SCREENZ Industry Champion for her significant lifetime commitment to New Zealand film and television.

In a career spanning almost 40 years as a director, writer and producer Preston has made major film and television productions encompassing most genres. Her early feature films include Bread & Roses, Mr. Wrong, Ruby and Rata. More recently she’s made features Perfect Strangers and Home by Christmas and Christchurch-set mini-series Hope and Wire. She’s currently on My Year with Helen.

She’s also produced Peter Young’s The Art of Recovery and Paora Joseph’s Tatarakihi – The Children of Parihaka.

An Officer of the NZ Order of Merit, Preston has served on most industry boards including the New Zealand Film Commission and New Zealand On Air.

Introducing Preston, Robin Laing noted that she was surprised to discover that Gaylene didn’t already hold it. “Gaylene has blazed many trails, broken many ceilings – glass and otherwise.”

Preston quoted Frank Lloyd Wright, who on receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award, said, “About time.”

“But I’m more polite,” Preston said.

Preston talked about being part of a “fledgling” industry, and wondered if they’d been fledglings back then, what birds would they become?

“Seagulls,” she reckoned. “We fight one another for the crumbs.”

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