The SPADA Conference closed its first day by handing out three awards in Wellington this evening (Thursday 23 November).
In a sign of the times, the SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year and Independent Producer of the Year gongs both went to people with none to limited track records in producing traditional film or television, but truckloads of success with online productions.
The theme of change had been in the air from the get-go. Introducing conference’s opening speaker, PM Jacinda Ardern, SPADA co-president Richard Fletcher (pictured, top) spoke of disruption and the importance of culture over commercialism – not a barrow many producers have publicly pushed over the last nine years.
At the end of the day Fletcher returned to the spotlight, not as co-president but as the recipient of the SPADA / Data Book / SCREENZ Industry Champion award.
Fletcher revisited the theme of disruption in his acceptance speech, saying that naming him a recipient of the award in a way mark a changing of the guard. Certainly the award has gone, more often than not, to industry members late in their careers. In the case of SDGNZ director Anna Cahill the award was made posthumously. Fletcher made a point to pay tribute to those who’d gone before and on whose shoulders he’d been able to stand.
Fletcher’s Libertine Pictures was the first company supported by the NZFC’s Business Development Scheme, ushered in by Graeme Mason shortly before his departure to Screen Australia (on whose own scheme the BDS was partly-modelled).
Over the last decade Fletcher has produced or EPed features including Jonathtan King’s Under the Mountain, Peter Young’s The Last Ocean, David Stubbs’ Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses and Miranda Harcourt & Stuart McKenzie’s The Changeover, which has recently completed its theatrical run.
Fletcher was also a producer on Into the Rainbow, which had its premiere last month at the Asia Pacific Film Festival in Auckland. He’s currently working with King again, on comedy feature Versus Vampire.
The SPADA Independent Producer of the Year award went to Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton of Brown Sugar Apple Grunt, producers of currently on-release anthology feature Waru. The film made its international debut at the Toronto Film Festival, opened the world’s largest indigenous film festival imagineNATIVE, and won Best Feature Film Screenplay at the SWANZ awards.
BSAG is well-known for TV show Find Me A Maori Bride and web series Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life and (with Millen Baird) Auckland Daze and Darryl: an Outward Bound Story. Warkia was also a producer on Roseanne Liang’s Flat 3 and an EP on Friday Night Bites, itself an award winner last weekend at the NZ Web Fest Awards.
The Candle Wasters (Claris Jacobs, Elsie Bollinger, Minnie Grace, Robbie Nicol, and Sally Bollinger) picked up the New Filmmaker of the Year award, adding to awards collected from the NZ Web Fest in the last two years.
Having built their reputation with based-on-Shakespeare web series Nothing Much To Do and Lovely Little Losers, the Candle Wasters earlier this year released an original lesbian musical rom-com Happy Playland and are returning to the Bard as they crowdfund for Tragicomic. The SPADA Award delivers the Candle Wasters $20,000 worth of post services from Park Road.
At lunch on SPADA’s first day, the traditional SPP Big Pitch competition took place, producing joint winners. Emma Schranz won for Black Widows, Chris Chalmers for Lance what have you done?.
Chalmers and Schranz have almost competed against one another previously. Schranz’s Charlie Floyd’s Visionarium took the VFX Award at Tropfest in 2014, and her 2016 entry Be Home Soon was also named a finalist in a line-up that included Chalmers’ Timothy (or Hunting for the Doppelmonster).
Before the competition ran, Schranz’s film was disqualified after it was discovered to have been made available online, breaching entry requirements. It was harsh on Schranz as she wasn’t responsible for the breach.
This year’s SPADA Conference runs 23 – 24 November in Wellington.