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SWANZ 2015 closes chapter

With the announcement of NZWG ED Steven Gannaway’s departure after eight and a half years, part of this year’s SWANZ bash was always going to be about acknowledging his contribution.

Sensibly, the honouring closed out the ceremony, allowing everyone else their 15 minutes of fame – or 15 seconds, given the speed at which SWANZ traditionally rips through its awards. Jackie van Beek and Jesse Griffin did the hosting honours, keeping the mood light and the awards flowing.

Jason Howden won the race between “two zombies and a dog” to take the Best Feature Film Script, albeit collecting his award by proxy as Deathgasm is currently carving a path through the international festival circuit and has just released in the US. Another absentee winner, Roseanne Liang, was ably repped by Kerry Warkia who was sure that if Liang had been present she would have wanted to thank her producer.

Paula Boock gave the speech that came closest to serious, accepting the mentorship award on behalf of playwright, novelist and near-nonagenarian Renée (Taylor).

While the finalists and winners of juried prizes are the raison d’etre for SWANZ, the loudest applause and plaudits were saved for the presentation of the evening’s final gong, the Industry Champion award, to departing ED Steven Gannaway.

Steve Barr with Steven Gannaway's leaving present

Steve Barr with Steven Gannaway’s leaving present

Previous NZWG chairs paid tribute by proxy. Present chair Pip Hall was joined on stage by James Griffin, Steve Barr and Michael Bennett, who all took the time to praise his work for the guild and its members, if not his dress sense. “Tee shirts don’t only come in black.”

Gannaway thanked his wife, Alex Cole-Baker, for both drawing his attention to the NZWG job advertisement over eight and a half years ago and, much more recently, for saying, “Honey, quit.” He also noted that he was leaving the guild in good hands.

Next week Gannaway leaves Auckland for the Wairarapa, “seven kilometres up a gravel track” according to Steve Barr. His plan? To enjoy something he’s not experienced in a long time – weekends – and “Write, paint and not wear pants.”

The SWANZ 2015 winners were (marked ***):

BEST FEATURE FILM SCRIPT
*** Jason Howden, Deathgasm
Guy Pidgen, I Survived a Zombie Holocaust
Jeremy Wadzinski, Shelby

BEST SHORT FILM SCRIPT
Guy McDouall, Feeder
Emilia Robinson, Mine
Matthew Saville, Dive
*** Tim Worrall, Tits on a Bull

BEST PLAY
*** Dave Armstrong, Central
Rochelle Bright, The Deliberate Disappearance of My Friend Jack Hartnett
Renee Liang, Under the Same Moon

BEST TELEVISION COMEDY EPISODE
Dane Giraud, Find Me a Maori Bride
*** Roseanne Liang, Flat 3: The Game

BEST TELEVISION DRAMA EPISODE
*** Tim Balme, The Brokenwood Mysteries: Sour Grapes
James Griffin, Westside: Episode 4
Paul Hagan, Shortland Street: Episode 5819

UNPRODUCED FEATURE FILM SCRIPT COMPETITION
*** Anna Francino & Siobhan Marshall, Bara
Shreya Gejji, Dubai Dreams
Brett Higginson, Mill Town
Jeremy Wadzinski, The Last Surrender
The judges also awarded an honourable mention to Jeremy Wadzinski

BEST NEW WRITER
Jason Howden, Deathgasm
Greg Johnson & John Leigh, Snowmen
*** Guy McDouall, Feeder
Guy Pidgen, I Survived a Zombie Holocaust

MENTORSHIP AWARD
Renée (Taylor)

INDUSTRY CHAMPION
Steven Gannaway

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