Ask anyone who has participated in the past three Big Screen Symposiums to tell you what they got out of it and you’ll hear the same words frequently repeated: inspiration, energy, generosity, enthusiasm, and collaboration.
It all sounds a long way from Hollywood.
“It is pretty unique,” says Script to Screen Executive Director, Esther Cahill Chiaroni.
“Right from the start of our first BSS in 2012, we wanted this to be an inclusive event that brought the NZ film community together in a stimulating environment. We didn’t know then how people would respond to it, but from day one there’s been a palpable sense of warmth and community at each event.
“It’s not only what happens during the sessions that makes the BSS work so well, it’s all about the conversations and connections that happen over the weekend. There really is an an amazing spirit of collaboration and inclusiveness and we know for certain it’s given birth to some beautiful film relationships.”
Past years have seen more than 400 delegates gather for the weekend-long event that has become a filmie calendar highlight bringing practitioners from across the industry together – from writers, directors and producers, to actors and editors, to technicians, film students and distributors. Organisers, Script to Screen and J&A Productions expect to see even higher numbers in this fourth year, with a stellar lineup of local and international speakers packing a programme focusing on the theme of Strengthening our Collaborative Spirit.
“We all know that collaboration sits at the heart of filmmaking,” says Cahill Chiaroni, “and it is not easy. This year we’re drilling down into the ‘how’, with exceptional filmmakers sharing their insights into collaborative processes that enable their best work, and those that don’t.”
Highlights from this year’s programme include:
Opening Panel. Bringing together top NZ and international filmmakers to discuss what processes have enabled them to create their best work.
Jane Campion. A rare chance to hear the acclaimed NZ director talk about her move into television, and making Top of the Lake. Campion will also give a director’s Masterclass (see Big Screen Symposium website for application details)
Rachel Griffiths. The multi award-winning Australian Actress (Six Feet Under, Muriel’s Wedding) delivers this year’s Keynote Address, ’Playing with Others in a Post-Cellulite World’.
Liz Watts Producing Masterclass. Top Australian Producer, Watts (Animal Kingdom, Lore) focuses on identifying and fostering talent and maintaining key creative relationships.
Sebastian Silva. Breakthrough Chilean filmmaker Silva, comes to us following the release of his most recent feature, Nasty Baby (Sundance, 2015), in which he co-stars with Kristen Wiig. Silva will speak with top NZ actress, Robyn Malcom about his unique process, as well as delivering a filmmaking Masterclass.
Anthony McCarten. Academy-Award nominated and Bafta-winning NZ screenwriter, producer, playwright and novelist Anthony McCarten joins us from London following the successes of his recent feature The Theory of Everything.
John Landau (producer). Long-time creative partner of director James Cameron, Jon Landau is the producer of the two highest grossing films of all time, Avatar (2002) and Titanic (1997). Landau is part of the New Zealand Screen Advisory Board.
What people say about the Big Screen Symposium
There was a real generosity of spirit about the occasion that made it very different from others I have attended.
Australian writer and script editor, Keith Thompson, (The Sapphires)
It was a wonderful experience for me in every possible way. I was touched by the warmth in which I was received across the board and it was an honour for me to be there.
US Producer Alix Madigan (Winter’s Bone)
Inspiring, generous spirited and perfectly conceived and organised… by far the best event of this type I’ve ever been to.
NZ Director Rob Sarkies (Out of the Blue)
This year’s Big Screen Symposium is not the only Script to Screen initiative to actively drive productive collaborations for NZ filmmakers. Each year, Film Up, Script to Screen’s mentorship programme provides individually tailored support to up-skill writers, directors and producers in their craft, career, and creative process. Each participant receives 20 hours with an esteemed industry mentor and participates in group work and round tables over an eight-month period. Previous collaborations have included producer Chelsea Winstanley (What We Do In The Shadows) with NZ/Australian producer Tim White, and writer Sophie Henderson (Fantail) with Australian film and high-end TV writer Alice Bell (The Slap). This year’s mentors include director Ray Lawrence (Lantana), director Garth Davis (Top of the Lake), and producer Jan Chapman (The Piano, Bright Star).
Earlier this year, Script to Screen enticed 2013 Big Screen Symposium participant, Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Peros, 21 Grams, Babel), back to our shores as a mentor atThe Writers’ Lab Aotearoa. Sundance Feature Film Lab Director Gyula Gazdag joined us for the first time, and screenwriter, Micheal Goldenberg (Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, Contact, Peter Pan) returned for a second year. This intensive five-day residential workshop for writers of feature films, is designed to identify and foster distinctive voices in New Zealand film.
“It’s immensely gratifying to see Guillermo and Michael return to New Zealand to continue sharing their expertise with New Zealand filmmakers,” says Esther. “The Big Screen Symposium, FilmUp and the Writers’ Lab Aotearoa are all platforms that not only up skill and inspire, but enable us to forge strong international relationships, and ultimately help our filmmakers to do the same.”
To find out more and secure your place at the Big Screen Symposium visit bigscreensymposium.com
To find out more about Script to Screen visit script-to-screen.co.nz
Tickets: Full Price: NZ$335 / Industry Concession* NZ$285 / Student NZ$185
*Industry Concession is for members of industry organisations which include AAANZ, Actors’ Equity, APRA/AMCOS, Cinematographers Society, DEGNZ, Ngā Aho Whakaari, NZ Film and Video Technicians’ Guild, NZCS, NZWG, Screen Composers Guild, SPADA and WIFT NZ.
Tickets include full 2-day programme, lunch, morning & afternoon tea daily, and Saturday evening networking drinks.