What we learnt from our short film ‘Help’

Tropfest Winners 2014With Tropfest 2015 happening this weekend I thought it would be good to share what we learnt from making Tropfest 2014 winner ‘Help’. We made the short in six days from concept to completion, with no money and a lot of passion. So a year later we have had time to reflect on both what we think made the film successful and how some success can ‘help’ propel you forward.
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Learning to take a break before breaking down

2014-11-21 20.05.37At the start of the year its a good time to make a plan of attack for the year to come. Of course it helps if your plan is realistic. Making films can be an exhausting process, particularly when you are doing it on top of paid employment. One thing I have learnt the hard way a couple of times is that burning the candle at both ends does actually lead to burn out. Recovering from burn out is always tough but I have learnt a few things that help me to balance things a little better.

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Networking – Tips on a Neccessity

2014-12-12 22.05.21If you are anything like me the the idea of going to events for the purpose of talking to strangers can be daunting. The only way to get over this is to do it and to do it often. In these situations I have found that it is better to be shy than arrogant and there are so many amazing people in this industry that you will hardly ever be left alone for long.

In this industry we all tend to work in small groups or alone for a lot of the time, but meeting new people is crucial both in terms of finding crew as well as finding people to help make your projects happen.

If you have a friend to go with who is there for similar reasons it makes things much easier, but even if you don’t these are some of the things I have discovered that have helped me get through the awkwardness over the years.

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My lowdown on low-budget features

20131024-035704.jpgI’ve recently been involved in a number of discussions about low-budget filmmaking and whether or not it has a place in the NZ film scene. There are people who believe that it is an amazing idea and the only way to create a sustainable industry and others who think that low-budget filmmaking needs to stopped and should not be officially supported. Having made two low-budget features and knowing so many other people who have, I personally believe that there is a place for low-budget filmmaking as long as long as you are doing it for the right reasons and are smart about how you go about it.

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Censorship – The ‘M’ Rating and how to get there…

Help Poster Tropfest NZ winner 2014

With the Tropfest deadline coming up in a week it seemed like a good time to go over Censorship in NZ. Tropfest has an ‘M’ rating and if your film doesn’t pass it can be disqualified from the competition. We were lucky enough to have the chance to resubmit our film ‘Help’ after making changes to the film in a day to ensure it came in on the rating, so here are my thoughts on Censorship…

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The Changing Legal and Technological Landscape for Film in NZ

Book_ShelveAn excerpt from my studies exploring the realities of marketing and distributing film…

Film Censorship is covered in The Films, Videos, and Publications Act 1993, last updated in 2005 (Office of Film and Literature Classification, 2011). This legislation will determine the audience size your film can access by restricting possible younger viewers due to objectionable material (Wilson, 2007). Further campaigns for changes in the legislation have continued. Recent possible changes that could affect include all films featuring smoking R18 (Sharma, 2011) – already declared impractical by researchers (Gale, et al., 2006), but if enforced would enforce an R18 rating on many films including a large number of classic pictures – and making it cheaper to receive classification for suppliers (Croot, 2010).

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Going LALA again… Learnings from the AFM


I have just returned from my fourth trip to the American Film Market, and boy did the time go fast! As the winners of Tropfest NZ Andrew and I got to attend an LA Immersion course run by the LATC (Latin American Training Centre) – so thank you MPAA for supplying that prize. This trip we were also lucky enough to have an American Producer attached to our project – Sex With an Alien – which certainly helped in terms of generating leads at the market. So what are my gems of wisdom after the trip…

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Contracting Collaboration

Deciding to become a film maker always means you need to prepare for disappointment. There are always the good moments, but the general understanding we all operate under is that our films will not get into every festival, that we will not always get the funding we want and that there will always be feedback on our scripts that we don’t want to hear. That being said for me there is no greater disappointment than when a frequent collaborator lets you down.

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