Script to Screen and Ngā Aho Whakaari present a filmmaking workshop on the web series format, with guest speakers Kiel McNaughton (creator/director/actor) and Kerry Warkia (creator/producer/actor), both of whom were key creatives in the successful NZ web series Auckland Daze.

Come and join us for this productive and inspiring one day workshop to learn about this growing medium, and the opportunities and challenges it provides. This workshop is free and open to anyone who is passionate about making film or TV. It is suitable for people for beginners through to people with filmmaking and/or screenwriting experience.

What is a web series? Web series are episodic dramas or documentaries – like a TV series, but only available online through TV on Demand, youtube, vimeo or a dedicated website. Web series can be anywhere from self-funded to high budget, and episode lengths range from 2-100mins. Successful NZ web series include the NZonAir funded Auckland Daze and Reservoir Hill, which both screen on TVNZ OndemandAuckland Daze has returned for its second season as a broadcast show.

Why make one? Web series are usually shows with characters and themes that may not ever get mainstream TV funding, because they are too ‘niche’. Filmmakers can make short episodic drama about characters that they connect with, and use online avenues to find an audience. Some NZ filmmakers like Roseanne Liang (Flat3) are now turning to self-funded web series as a means to continue to produce creative work in between projects. It keeps the creative juices flowing while also allowing them to test ideas and processes on a lower budget.

Come and hear creator/director Kiel McNaughton (Auckland Daze) and creator/producer Kerry Warkia (Auckland DazeFlat3) discuss the creative possibilities of the web series format. The morning session will cover writing, directing and producing a web series yourself, using clips to demonstrate. Followed by a fun afternoon session of collaborative group work. Bring your ideas to the table and get something made!

Sun 8th December, Rawene Hall, South Hokianga, 9am – 4:30pm, MAP

The workshop is free but please bring a plate to share for lunch.

If you would like to attend, please rsvp by email Eloise at eloise@script-to-screen.co.nz

SCHEDULE:

9am – 10am Mihi Whakatau, info, refreshments

10am – 12pm What does it take to get a web series off the ground?

12 – 1pm Shared Lunch, everyone brings a plate

1 – 4pm Let’s work through your ideas!

4-4:30pm Wrap up, evaluation

For any queries or to rsvp please email Eloise at eloise@script-to-screen.co.nz

Is there a story from your community that you would like to tell through film but don’t know where to start?

Script to Screen and Ngā Aho Whakaari present the 2013 South Auckland Short Film Workshop. This two-day event will give you everything you need to know to make a short film, guiding you through each stage – from the initial concept, writing, directing, the crucial element of casting and finally to pitch your idea for funding.

Come and listen to five experienced industry professionals who have all worked on successful short films, including Matthew Horrocks, who has produced or executive produced 7 local short films including Brave Donkeyand ZeroHamish Bennett, whose short film The Dump played at festivals here and across the globe and was the winner of the 2012 NZ Writers Guild Award for Best Short Film Script, Christina Asher, the casting director responsible for many of New Zealand’s shorts, features and television series including Sione’s Wedding and MatarikiZia Mandviwalla, whose debut short film Night Shift premiered at Cannes in 2012, and has since gone on to win awards at numerous international film festivals, and Michael Bennett, writer/director of Matariki whose short film Michelle’s Third Novel was chosen to screen prior to the gala premier of Pulp Fiction at the 1994 New York Film Festival. Hear also from last year’s pitching competition winner, Aroha Awarau.

Date: Sat 16 / Sun 17 November, 2013

Time: Saturday 9am-4:30pm, Sunday: 10am – 4:30pm

VenueManukau School of Visual Arts, 50 Lovegrove Crescent, Otara 2023

Cost: The workshop is free. Please bring a $15 koha to cover lunch for the weekend. Refreshments will be provided.

Registration: Spaces are limited so you must register your interest. Please rsvp to Eloise on eloise @ script-to-screen.co.nz or ring the office on 09 360 5400.

SCHEDULE:

Day One – Saturday 16 November

9am – 10am: Tea/Coffee and Introduction

10am – 12pm: Big Picture with Matthew Horrocks

An overview of what it takes to get a short film off the ground, driving a project from conception to completion and managing the team

12pm – 1pm: Lunch

1pm – 3pm: Writing with Hamish Bennett

Learn about the key points of storytelling and forming a structure that will grab the audience

3pm – 3:30pm: Break

3:30 – 4:30pm: Casting with Christina Asher

Learn about the important role that casting plays in bringing your story to life

Day Two – Sunday 17 November

10am – 12pm:  Directing with Zia Mandviwalla

Learn about the directing process, forming a strong vision for your story and bringing it to life

12pm – 1pm: Lunch

1pm – 4:30pm: Pitching Session with Michael Bennett and an appearance from last year’s winner Aroha Awarau

Participants pitch their short film ideas to the class and mentors for some practice and feedback. One participant will be chosen to receive ongoing mentoring through Script to Screen.

If you have any questions please contact Eloise Veber on 09 360 5400 or at eloise @ script-to-screen.co.nz.

Hillary’s successful ascent of Mt Everest in 1953 is one of NZ’s most important and iconic stories, and in 2013 the story comes to the big screen for the first time. Beyond the Edge, to be released 24 Oct, is NZ’s first 3D film and had record international presales.

What is it about the narrative approach of the filmmakers that turned a well-known historical event into a gripping cinematic tale?

Join writer/director Leanne Pooley (Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, Shackleton’s Captain) and writer (screen story)/producer Matthew Metcalfe (Giselle, Dean Spanley) as they talk to chair Toa Fraser (Giselle, Dean Spanley) about how they found a way into this iconic story and how the use of 3D played a role in storytelling.

Stay afterwards for a slice of pizza on us and a drink.

Tuesday 29 October, 7pm drinks, 7:30 start, The Classic, 321 Queen Street, $5 koha appreciated.

Click here for more details on screening times for Beyond the Edge

Event Summary: A Spirit of Independence with Jake Mahaffy, chaired by Alyx Duncan, Auckland Writer’s Room, Tuesday 28 May 2013, The Classic, 321 Queen St, Auckland, 7:30-8:30pm, see the event listing here, and a video of the session here


Sure they can. Just ask innovative US filmmaker Jake Mahaffy whose shorts and micro-budget features have screened in A-list festivals all over the world.  His project War, which he wrote, shot, directed, edited, and produced, screened at Sundance in 2004, and earned him a spot in Filmmaker Magazine’s 2005 ‘25 New Faces of Independent Film‘. He went on to make the micro-budget feature Wellness, which won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW in 2008. His work has been called a ‘… a textbook case of how a solid script and great performances can transcend the lowest of budgets’ (Variety 2008) and the May Writer’s Room was fortunate indeed to have Jake in discussion with Alyx Duncan.

Alyx described Jake as an’ incredible film maker who produces his self-made films in a ‘handmade’ and independent way’, creating stories that have reached audiences around the world.  Jake developed and established two film making programmes at American universities as an Associate Professor, and now teaches at Auckland University.

Jake and his family arrived in New Zealand about four months ago and he is impressed with the filmmaking culture here. “It seems to be the perfect environment to create innovative films. I’m still learning about it but it sounds like the Film Commission is great. There is nothing like it, on that scale, for filmmaking in the USA.”

Jake is well known for creating strong and honest character-driven films without the benefits of large budgets. First up for discussion was  Miracle Boy,  a 17-minute film based on a short story by writer Pinckney Benedict, a close friend of Jake’s. “It was shot over six days in West Virginia,” said Jake. “I wanted to knock out a short film and move on to other things. The original Miracle Boy story is excellent. I showed up in Appalachia where the story is based, used local residents – no actors – spent five days finding locations, getting a cast together, shot it in six days, edited for just under a year and then sent out rough cuts to a couple of  festivals.” The film premiered at the 2012 Venice Biennale.

Pinckney Benedict is an award-winning writer and a local celebrity so the film project generated much community interest. Jake held  a public info session at a local theatre and about 50 people showed up.  “A co-producer, Jason Brown, put out flyers and blurbs in the local paper. A film had never been made there before so people really got behind it. Some offered set locations. I didn’t do auditions. I just talked with people. With this kind of filmmaking you use anyone who is willing and able.”

Jake needed to find children for the main roles and gave copies of the script to parents so they could approve their child’s involvement. “I never expect kids to remember the lines. I give them some idea of what is going on in the scene and feed them the lines as we go. ” Jake would direct, shoot, do sound, and prompt lines from behind the camera until he captured the performances he was after.

He said it was a pleasure to write the script because the story on which it was based is very tight. “The adaptation was mostly just visualising it. I know, for me, that when shooting, the screenplay is the first thing to go. I don’t hold on to scenes and dialogue as they’re written on the page. It’s more about what is available for the film at the moment in real life. The film is about that moment. The screenplay was the excuse to get people involved and to get the images I wanted. I try to fit things around what is available and that can be tough- it takes a facile mind to manage that process. You have intention and a belief in your original concept but must adapt to what is right in front of you, not what is stuck inside your head. You know going in that you won’t get exactly what you want … but you hope for something better.”

Alyx asked about Jake’s ongoing relationship to his completed films. “I care about the films. But I am not in control of what happens when they’re finished. Once the film is made, I can’t make people watch it or like it. So I’m willing to forgo that. A film takes so much time and effort to make, I cut my losses and just skip out on the exhibition end of things.”

Wellness began as a learning exercise for writing naturalistic dialogue but ended up generating enough material for a film. “I learned to let my ear tell me what was authentic. Working with untrained actors meant I didn’t have to deconstruct bad training. They were there because they enjoyed the process – it wasn’t about a paycheck or fame and fortune so I was able to say, ‘ Let’s do it again’ and they were willing. It does take confidence to insist on getting it right and keep shooting. I didn’t have a crew but that meant we could keep working until we got it right. It was never a case of someone demanding ‘Hurry up!'”

The central idea of Wellness involves a man who tries to sell something that does not exist, a financial scam. “The lead character of this film is based on a synthesis of people I’ve known. He was the only performer that could commit to the project long-term so I built the narrative around his episodic encounters with other people that may only show up for an hour or two. I shot it single-handedly,  no crew, and edited it myself. To trick myself into getting involved in a feature film project, a massive endeavor, at the start I had to pretend I was just ‘screwing around.’ ”

The film was shot over twenty days during a two year period. ” I would shoot for a week or so, go back home, edit, then determine what I needed to change, refine, pickup, get more of. I sculpted the film over time, a great way to work if you can afford it, not having to cram it all into a 30-day shoot. But two years was a big commitment.”

There is a process of discovery for Jake in the film making process. “Having a script and then illustrating the plot with pictures on set is mind-numbingly dull to me. But as a director not knowing what is going to happen next, and the anxiety and excitement of trying to pull something together that is falling apart as you’re making it- that tension should translate to an audience. You won’t broadcast your intentions. It’s less deliberate and formulaic because I’m  trying to keep up with the story myself.  All bets are off. Go in with a plan but having that constant tension of holding things together was helpful for me. When you take what you have written and shoot it, there are limitations imposed on you and that is a good thing.  When shooting and editing I always prioritise the performances of the actors. It’s not about people saying the lines right according to what was written. I focus on the performance and the character’s spontaneity.”

Jake came  to film via visual art and drawing. He attending arts school in Chicago and studied filmmaking at RISD and the Russian State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow.  The USA has a strong independent film culture and Alyx asked how this had influenced his work.

“There are films and filmmakers I like but no particular film making model .  I don’t come from a wealthy background so had to make films as cheaply as possible. My films didn’t make any money so I couldn’t take other people’s money to throw away and I couldn’t pay people. I’m not great at the organisation side of things, building up the apparatus around film making to get a crew, funding.  I just take the camera and go shoot by myself. I’ve made all my films singlehandedly but did have a bit more help with Miracle Boy. If you shoot on your own with no budget you realise what you don’t have control over, for example you have no control over who shows up and when … but with a budget I can get people to show up.”

Alyx asked Jake about the balance of art and commerce. “I have no idea about the financial side of filmmaking. People who have the luxury of considering making a film can likely get access to the gear they need to do it- cell phone or camera –  there are different scales of filmmaking. My scale is very specific and and as an independent filmmaker I write my own job description- it  doesn’t  include commerce. I just make the best films I can in a given circumstance.”

Teaching at Auckland University is something Jake is enjoying. “It’s not big money but there is the time off, you have a steady schedule and great resources for research. Teaching is fun. Hashing out ideas in class keeps the brain active. It’s a great situation and I keep working on film projects too. I have several feature screenplays and shorts written, ready to go. I’m always working on something.”

Alyx invited questions and the first asked Jake to explain how he knows when an idea is a good one.

“Almost any idea can be good. It’s all in the execution. If you gave a cheesy soap opera script to a good director they’d make something amazing out of it.  Or a great script with a bad director makes a bad film. For me it’s all about how the idea will be shot, what is visualised from it, because I know the shooting is what will make or break it.  The more I talk about an idea and involve others, the more refined it becomes.”

Jake’s earlier films made as an undergraduate were praised for their raw expressionism.  “Each image is a self-sufficient narrative. That first film I made was very raw and did something that I have never been able to recapture. Over time, my films have become more traditionally narrative and less expressionistic and this has come about as my interest in other people and their behaviour has grown. It’s a change of interest. I look at the early film and I’m amazed. It’s something I’d like to go back to at some point.”

When asked if there were challenges adapting someone else’s work, Jake replied, “With Miracle Boy the writer is a good friend. He trusted me. I sent him a copy of the screenplay and he was fine with it. It was a case of taking the best parts of the short story and visualising them cinematically. There was alot in the story that wouldn’t work on screen so it had to come out.”

If someone offered a big budget, would that turn his head? “I’d love to work that way. But at what cost? Here’s money- go make a movie! That would be great. It would be great to collaborate, work with creative actors and a good crew. But it hasn’t happened yet and it may never happen. So in the meantime, I’ll just keep doing it on my own.  Time can be a big limitation as is one’s own talent and experience.  Money will buy out reality. You can change the circumstances because you pay people to change it for you. You can pay for locations, pay to have things the way you want them… you can fire one person and employ another… but if you don’t have funds then you have to adapt to circumstances without compromsing your central concept. But money for nothing? I’m not at that place in the world.”

There is no doubt we will be hearing and seeing more from Jake in the near future. “It’s project to project for me. Each film has its own specific purpose and goal. It’s when a film exceeds your own intentions, developing into something that your mind could not even conceive before you began- that’s joy.”

Written for Script to Screen by Jane Bissell.

Pushing the boundaries of comedy in all directions, the characters of Super City‘s second season are at once more relatable and more outrageous.

In an era when more and more actors branch into writing and directing their own work, we look closely at this collaboration between some of NZs best acting/writing talent. What is the relationship between acting and writing? And how does the writing process change when you are creating characters for yourself to play?

Join us to hear Madeleine Sami and Tom Sainsbury talk to chair Leanne Saunders about the relationship between acting and writing, co-writing and developing the new characters for season two.

Auckland-based comedy TV series Super City currently airs its second season after a successful first season in 2012. The show is a collaboration between some of NZ’s best talents; actor/writer Madeleine Sami, actor/writer Tom Sainsbury and writer/director Oscar Kightley.

Stay afterwards for a slice of pizza on us and a drink.

Tuesday 24 September, drinks 7pm, talk 7:30-8:30pm, The Classic, 321 Queen Street, $5 koha appreciated.

Join us at our June Writer’s Room to hear from Paolo Bertolin, South-East Asia and Pacific selector for the Venice Film Festival.

Paolo talks to producer Philippa Campbell about programming for Venice, the role of film festivals in an ever changing landscape, Asia & Pacific films in an international context and New Zealand films’ place in the Asia Pacific.

Running since 1932, Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world. It holds its place as one of the most prestigious A-list festivals and runs every year as part of the Venice Biennale.

Paolo has also worked for a number of other festivals, including Udine Far East Film Festival (Italy) and Visions du Reel (Switzerland) and has been a correspondent for Canne’s Critic’s week.

Tuesday 25 June, drinks 7pm, talk 7:30-8:30pm, Classic Comedy Club, 321 Queen Street, $5 koha appreciated. Stay afterwards for a slice of pizza on us and a drink.

Come early to join Festival Director Gina Dellabarca for an informal chat about Show Me Shorts Film Festival, upstairs at the Classic from 6:30-7pm.

Whether for the page, screen or stage, each writer has their own approach to creating characters. At the April Auckland Writer’s Room, two of our most esteemed writers, novelist Lloyd Jones and playwright/television writer Roger Hall, spoke candidly with playwright/screenwriter/director Stephen Sinclair about their techniques for developing those memorable characters that stay with us, long after the book has been read or the play has been seen.

Stephen asked Lloyd to begin with the beginning. How does he go about creating characters?

“My books start with an investigation of an area of interest ,” said Lloyd. “I don’t think in terms of character but rather in terms of voice. I’m more interested in the interior landscape and language that identifies us as individuals, and the mental furnishings of a character, rather than how they look or what they wear. Eventually a voice takes over which is approximately my own – but not my own – and the character evolves. I’m often amazed at how ‘knowing’ my characters are. I constructed them but they often know more than I do!”

Lloyd explained it can take the writing of thousands of words before ‘the voice’ is discovered, a process potentially fraught with anxiety but one he is well used to. “You’ll see a phrase in amongst it, a piece of language that can open up another world  – and that’s your quarry. Language is underpinned by a type of musicality and is particular to a person. Sometimes a phrase can unlock the story that is waiting to be told.”

Roger admitted he could almost be called an “equal opportunity playwright”  because he has created  79 male and 73 female characters for the stage  alone during the course of his writing career. His process for kick-starting  character differed to Lloyd’s. “I start with something like ‘woman 40’. The characters begin like stick figures. I live with them and build them up. As Lloyd does with prose, for me it’s dialogue, more and more of it and it’s never wasted time. I live with the characters for several weeks until I can say, “Yes, I’ve got it!”  I don’t have to describe how people look,  nor do I have a vocabulary for clothing, just ‘woman 40’ and it’s up to the director and actor to do their parts. That’s a big advantage for a playwright.”

When asked if they had ever developed characters that just did not work, Roger replied, “Possibly in Middle Age Spread. I did some wife-swapping in an early draft and that worked better. Sometimes I’ll be watching a play or TV series and think, “Why am I not enjoying this?”  and I realise it’s because I don’t care about the characters. It’s essential to write characters that the audience wants to know about. They don’t have to like them but they do need to care about them. It has to be a real onstage page-turner so it’s worth taking a lot of time and trouble to work on characters.”

In a play, characters are given to us, we watch them onstage, but it is different with prose. “It’s not whether the character is interesting or not,” said Lloyd, “but rather the persuasiveness of the language, how the story is delivered rather than what is delivered. When novels are turned into films people can sometimes be disappointed because the character they see onscreen is not quite the same as the one they had constructed for themselves. And what is a character anyway? It’s a body of nerves, tensions, responses and emotions, revealed in reaction to incidents and interactions with others.”

Roger said theatre does not require the writing of lengthy character profiles and admits this requirement for film and television scriptwriting has always been challenging for him. “Worst for me is that they want to know the storyline too soon. I don’t know the storyline until I’ve finished the whole play. Most of my TV series have been based on my stage plays so I have a running start, I already know the characters.”

When it comes to gathering good fodder and inspiration for character creation, Roger said there is often great material right in front of you. “Be absolutely shameless about exploiting all your friends and yourself in particular. YOU are a wonderful source of entertainment, stupidity, and treachery so make full use of yourself!”

Lloyd agreed there was much to be said for using yourself as a resource. “Some people ask ‘how do you get into the head of a 14 year old girl from Bougainville?’ and I reply, well I know what it is to be scared or excited. It’s not difficult. You can step into anyone’s skin. You cannot ring fence the imagination. As a writer you should be absolutely fearless, take no prisoners,  and you shouldn’t be writing if you can’t be honest.”

… and don’t hesitate to go out and do some field work too.  ” I’ve written four plays with all female casts,” said Roger, “and women have come up to me and asked, ‘How do you know them so well?’ and I reply, ‘I like women and I like to listen to them.’ Listening is very important. There was a time at the height of the women’s movement when men were accused of not being able to get into women’s voices – but it’s our job. We are writers and the same goes for women. They write about men brilliantly! I’m a huge fan of Kate Atkinson. She’s fantastic. If you are a writer, you can get into the voices of anyone, male or female.”

As preparation for his play  Social Climbers, Roger spent time with two groups of secondary school teachers. Over bottles of wine, he listened to what they had to say about the everyday  ups and downs of their profession. “This is another aspect of building up character. Meet people and listen to them.  Go out and seek information. People like to talk about themselves. Make it clear what you want, promise you won’t exploit them and that they won’t be recognised.”

Plays have a defined structure and Roger advised aspiring playwrights to watch lots of plays and become familiar with the nuts and bolts of theatre. “Go to plays,” said Roger, “get involved with an amateur group and work backstage. Plays have a structure whereas a novelist can go back and forth through time and place with a change of paragraph. It’s much harder to mess around with time in a play. Generally a play starts at A and finishes at Z.”

Lloyd said having to begin with a structure would contain him and Stephen said he envied the freedom of the prose writer. “I can spend months working out the optimum relationship between narrative, character and the central idea in a film script. Starting with just an idea to see where that takes you must be wonderful!”

Both Roger and Lloyd have had works adapted to other mediums and Stephen asked what that experience was like for them.

“Terrific!” said Roger. “I was given chance to write the script for Middle Age Spread but I didn’t, so missed out on having that  screen credit. However, Keith Aberdeen did it very well. I had to be realistic. Some stuff was left out but I was very happy.”

Lloyd’s Book of Fame  went from prose to the stage. “Carl Nixon did a great job on a small ensemble piece. It’s always a shock though because prose writers don’t often hear words presented back in this way. Your work has taken a different life on the stage than on the page and there is always a wee ‘jarring moment’ for me. I know most of the people in Mr. Pip and to see them in this other guise delivering my words … there’s this moment of awkwardness for me which everyone else watching wouldn’t see … but it’s all OK by the end of film.”

Part of the process from pen/paper to audience usually involves review and constructive criticism from others. “In general, publishing is based on mutual respect,” said Lloyd. “I would always invite close questioning of my work, whatever improves the text I’m all for it and there’s no sense in being egotistical about it.”

Roger recounted a writing experience in  1992 when he undertook a contract to write in the UK for British television. I was working on two TV series, one of which got made, and the other didn’t.  “It was a difficult experience, almost  a nightmare,  but turned out to be one of the best years of my life. I’d write one thing, they’d want another…  I’d change it, then they’d prefer the one before … and on and on. I was put through the wringer but they knew what they were doing. Meeting after meeting, they put such rigorous intensity on every script. That’s  one reason why British TV scripts are so good.”

When asked why he creates characters, Lloyd replied, “For the most obvious reason. They are the vehicle for the story. Without them there is no story. The most important strand for a prose writer is time and who manages time and the events. The clock stops when you write stories but our lives carry on in their messy way. There are constraints but there is no structure and this heavily engineered thing called a story needs people, ‘marionettes’, to drive it along.  Self expression is about making something and it’s pleasurable, whether you’re a carpenter or a potter. I happen to make words. It’s about a level of interaction with the world. As a writer you live intensively. You’re questioning, mining, all the time.”

During question time, Roger was asked if he uses dialogue as an exercise to explore character or is all dialogue written destined for the play itself?

“I hope it will appear in the play but sometimes it doesn’t. My advice would be to write down whatever appeals – and it could be anywhere in the play. Don’t be inhibited. Just write and eventually you’ll have enough stuff for the first draft. It may seem daunting for new writers but think of it as a safety net. You don’t have to get it right the first time: get it written, don’t get it right. Have fun, steam ahead, get it down then you have something to work from. Writing begets writing.”

When asked if he found working with actors helpful, Roger asked if there were any actors in the room … and then went on to say that he disliked workshops for many years.  There was a time when everyone assumed every play HAD to be workshopped, that problems in the writing would be solved in the workshop.”I do believe that when you hand in a play, you should think, ‘This can go on tomorrow.’ The workshops should be in your head, as best you can, and then the work handed over to an experienced director and actors.”   But in recent years, ATC have devoted two to three days to a couple of my news scripts, and I have found this process helpful.

And what about false starts?  “My laptop is full of them,” Lloyd admitted. “Patience is required because it can go on for months. It must be very instructive to hear actors reciting lines and I think this also applies to prose writers. Read your work aloud. If it doesn’t sound right, then it isn’t. American novelist Richard Ford always reads his work into a Dictaphone and plays it back before he sends it out into the world. Reading aloud is remarkably effective. There’s a  sound to language that you cannot get unless it is read aloud.”

Stephen quoted Flaubert who said, Writing is a dog’s life but the only one worth living and both writers agreed that it is an occupation they still get excited about.

“I have to say though that I’ve written my last play!” Roger announced. “It’s the fifth last play I’ve written! I’m thinking I can’t do any more and right now there’s nothing itching to go, the muse has deserted me. If I never write anything else, I feel I can hang up my boots. It’s hard work – but then so many things are – and if it’s no fun, then don’t bother.”

Written by Jane Bissell for Script to Screen

For our May Writer’s Room we are joined by innovative US filmmaker Jake Mahaffy, whose shorts and microbudget features have screened in A-list festivals all over the world.

His project War, which he wrote, directed and produced, screened at Sundance in 2004, and earned him a spot in Filmmaker Magazine’s 2005 ‘25 New Faces of Independent Film‘. He went on to make micro-budget feature Wellness, which won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW in 2008. His work has been called a “a textbook case of how a solid script and great performances can transcend the lowest of budgets.” (Variety 2008)

Join chair Cushla Dillon and Mahaffy as they delve into writing for performance on a non-existent budget, the relationship of the screenplay to directing, and break down the simplest elements of cinematic narrative.

Tuesday 28 May, 7pm drinks, 7:30pm startThe Classic, 321 Queen Street, Auckland, $5 koha appreciated

Web series have been around since 1995, so the idea is not new. But is now the time for this short form episodic storytelling to flourish?

For our August Writer’s Room we meet the makers of two locally developed and produced web series, Flat 3 and The Factory, to explore the viability of the web TV format, avenues for funding, the pros of writing for a shorter format and building an audience.

Join us to hear writer/director Roseanne Liang (Flat 3), actor/instigator JJ Fong (Flat 3), writer/director Michael Bennett (The Factory), EP/actor Vela Manusaute (The Factory) and director Joe Lonie (The Factory) as they discuss the benefits and downsides of the web series format – is this the sustainable future?

Tuesday 27 August, drinks 7pm, talk 7:30-8:30pm, Classic Comedy Club, 321 Queen Street, Auckland, $5 koha appreciated. Stay afterwards for a slice of pizza on us and a drink.

“An extremely compelling first film with a fantastic lead actor. We loved watching him on screen and felt a deep empathy with him. Sharp editing, strong visual choices and a complex, painful and loving portrayal of family. We appreciated the specificity of the world you brought us into. Your dedication to your vision is palpable.”

– International Jury, Generation 14Plus, Berlinale 2013.

We catch co-writer/directors Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland as they settle down from a whirlwind A-list festival run with their debut feature film Shopping. The film premiered at Sundance ’13 and went on to compete in the Generation 14 Plus International Jury at Berlinale – winning the Grand Prix.

Come and hear Mark and Louis talk to chair Andrew Bancroft about holding a strong vision, keeping momentum in writing and what it means to compete on the world stage.

Stay afterwards for a drink and a slice of pizza on us.

Drinks 7pm, 7.30 Start, Tuesday 26 March, The Classic, 321 Queen Street, Auckland, $5 koha appreciated

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