Script to Screen and Show Me Shorts are now calling for applications for the 2014 Short Film Lab.

Successful applicants will be offered a place in a one-day workshop as well as an opportunity for individual follow-up sessions. Participants in the 2014 Short Film Lab will be mentored by experienced industry practitioners who have excelled in short filmmaking, including: Jackie van Beek (Go the Dogs), Jake Mahaffy (Miracle Boy) and Shuchi Kothari (Coffee and Allah). A fourth mentor will be announced soon.

Six writers (or writer/directors) will be selected to workshop their short film ideas (or short film scripts) during the full-day lab hosted by the University of Auckland on Saturday 8th November 2014. Those selected can come on their own or bring up to two key creative collaborators with them. Thanks to the support of the New Zealand Film Commission and the Screen Production Programme at the University of Auckland, participation in the Short Film Lab is free for all selected applicants. Travel grants are available for successful applicants who reside out of Auckland.

Established by Script to Screen and Show Me Shorts in 2013, the Short Film Lab has been a resounding success. Previous Short Film Lab participants have described the interactive workshop as “fantastic” and “invaluable” and many have gone on to make the shortlist for NZFC Fresh Shorts funding. In 2013, the first film developed with the assistance of the Short Film Lab – Lauren Jackson’s I’m Going to Mum’s – premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and won Best Short Film Script at the SWANZ Awards.

To apply for the 2014 Short Film Lab please provide the following:

– An application form complete with two or three short film concepts, a brief biography or CV and an explanation of why you want to attend the lab.

– An example of your creative work, this can be 5 pages of a screenplay or 2 pages of an alternative form of creative writing. If you have completed a draft of the screenplay for any of your submitted concepts, you are encouraged to attach this as your writing sample.

– A $15 Application Fee.

Applications close Thursday 4th September at 5pm.
All applications must be submitted as a single .pdf file.
Please email your applications to ben@script-to-screen.co.nz.

A record-breaking audience gathered at Auckland’s Q Theatre to enjoy a very special June Writer’s Room with two of New Zealand’s brightest and funniest film makers. Chaired by actor Cliff Curtis, Script to Screen invited multiple Emmy-nominee Jemaine Clement and writer/director Taika Waititi to discuss the co-writing, co-directing and co-starring of their latest collaborative project, What We Do in the Shadows.

What We Do in the Shadows welcomes the audience into the ‘nightly’ lives of three vampires (plus a fourth who hangs out in the basement) sharing a Wellington flat. Like any other flatmates, they argue over the housework and domestic issues, enjoy going out for a spot of nightclubbing (if they are invited in, of course) and some banter with a pack of local werewolves, and must find those who will provide them with the sustenance they need … There is no doubt that this latest outing from one of New Zealand’s best known comedic teams is a real winner.

Jemaine and Taika share a long history of good friendship and creative collaboration dating back to their university days in Wellington when they were ‘… 19 year olds talking about men problems and burgeoning manhood.’

The two saw each other one day in the Victoria University library where it was dislike at first sight. Jemaine said he disliked Taika because he was wearing a reggae hat and hovering around a girl and Taika said, “I hate people with glasses. Jemaine was wearing this tapa cloth shirt. I thought he was one of those intellectuals trying to be ‘down with the brown’.”

Later that day, the two ran into each other again at a Capping Review audition. They watched each other’s performance, liked what they saw, put aside their initial differences and became friends and creative colleagues, developing and performing in a number of shows around Wellington with other like-minded actors.

“No one would hire us to be in their fancy plays so we were stuck in Bats making up our own stuff,” said Taika. “We learned to love rejection.”

The two made lists of all the things they’d like to do … make movies, be vampires … which developed into a list of questions like ‘what happens when you turn into a vampire?’ which then morphed into a short film project completed in 2005 where some of those questions were answered.

The film was based upon about 150 pages of jokes with a storyline running through. “Some scenes were 6/7 pages long so if you go by the ‘one page equals one minute of film’ then we had something that was 150 minutes long. We wanted it to be a natural process so didn’t show the actors any of the pages. We just asked them to turn up and we’d say things like ‘lie down here and we’re going to cover you in blood’.”

Sometimes that approach worked, but often it didn’t. There was always the script to fall back on but handing over a 150-page script wasn’t a happening thing. “We gave the crew a 100-page version,” said Taika. “Eventually we were able to shoot everything in a short amount of time but ended up with about 150 hours of footage. We spent over a year editing it.”

The freedom to improvise has always been integral to their work although Jemaine admitted in the early theatre days it didn’t always go so well. “It could throw you onstage sometimes. There’s been a progression for us. In Eagle vs Shark I wasn’t allowed to memorise anything. With Flight of the Conchords we’d improvise about 15% of the time, writing the scripts in such a way that it was easy to improvise. With Shadows, we progressed from having a little room to improvise to having a lot, so next time we might go back a bit.”

“People say that improvisation is a tool to get around script problems,” said Taika, “or to be used when a scene isn’t working. Good actors will tell you they only do it when they’re trying to figure out a problem. There’s been a change in comedy though. Improvisation has become more important. Some actors can come up with jokes right on the spot.”

What started out in 2005 as a list of questions and an idea of scenes, gradually developed over the next few years. The two kept in touch between projects, exchanging ideas and potential storylines until 2012 when they both decided to sit down and write the script properly. They headed out to a house in the country where they could work without distractions. Boy had taken Taika three years to write, Eagle vs Shark three weeks. Shadows was written in three days and both agree that it was a far better film than it would have been if they written it in 2005.

The audience had been asked to write down questions for the panel to answer so Cliff delved into the question box to ask a few.

‘What makes wellington such a popular vampire spot?’
“It is dark and rainy and cold.”

‘Would you make a sequel?’
“We have been thinking of sequels and spin offs . It’s a natural thing to do. Perhaps ‘What We Do in the Moonlight.’

‘Best prank pulled on set?’
“We were way too serious for pranks.”

‘Did you use authentic archive images or were they recreated by a graphic artist?’
“Most of the archival stuff we did ourselves, putting our own characters into old drawings and photos. Freeman White did the portraits of the film characters.”

‘Who did your marketing campaign?
“Anna Dean and Chris Henry. Anna did all of the online stuff . We also developed a beer called Delicious Neck to help market the film.”

Jemaine and Taika not only write, compose music and make graphic art, but also produce and distribute. When asked about funding the film, Taika said they bypassed the NZ Film Commission. “We weren’t against the NZFC but to get their money you have to go through several rounds with many people who can change every couple of years. One person may like your film and then another comes in and doesn’t. I’m not sure they would have funded us anyway. We had the opportunity to get money easily within a few days from the US so we took that. It was way easier.”

The film’s budget was just under 2 million with ” …. a couple million in favours,” said Jemaine.

Taika said they pitched the idea around Hollywood for three days. “It was depressing. We didn’t really have a story but did get offers from some studios. Making it that way might have been an easier process but we wouldn’t have been able to film here and by deciding not to go that way, we knew that we would get to make it.”

“There’s also that advantage with big budget vs small,” said Jemaine. “With a small project, we can do everything and have creative freedom … but then you can be up all night doing things yourselves whereas with big budgets you have teams of artists doing all the work.”

Cliff invited audience questions and the first asked Jemaine and Taika to describe their process on set for co-writing, co-directing and acting.

“I am difficult and unpredictable,” said Jemaine. ” I don’t know what I’m going to do so just keep the cameras rolling. When I first started acting, I was doing a TV show. The director wanted to make every character ‘likeable’ so I challenged myself to think of what was ‘unlikeable’ in every character because you do need to figure that out.

“Often Taika and I would direct each other with something like, ‘turn it down a little’ because we’d be overacting in certain scenes. We’re used to working with each other, especially when we did theatre together and we didn’t even know you had a to have a director. There were times though when I thought we would have a fist fight.”

Taika said the actors did become confused at times. “I’d say one thing and then Jemaine would say another. We both had versions we wanted so had to find ways to mix and balance those. We would both try to edit together but the reality was that one of us would go away for a month, leaving the other to edit alone, and then come back to work together again. We constantly ran out of money for the pickups and had to put some of our own into it.”

Jemaine said the month spent filming was a lot of fun. “We did find our directing roles eventually. I was more in charge of script ideas and Taika was involved with the technical side of things so it all worked out.”

When asked why they chose to premier at Sundance rather than in New Zealand, Taika said, “The NZ Film Festival is in July, not the best time to premier. We completed the film in December 2013. Sundance is a good festival. If you do well there and get positive reviews than that’s a great start.”

“It’s always good to hear about someone from NZ making good overseas,” said Jemaine, “as opposed to New Zealanders doing well in New Zealand because people aren’t interested in that. We got good reviews at Sundance. Coming back with those made people more confident.”

And the good reviews were helpful for use on the trailer and posters too.

Another question asked the two how they managed to keep things on track, seemingly in the midst of chaos. Jemaine replied that they were very solid on storyline and script from the outset. “We’d identified the dramatic moments … the sad bits … all of the parts that people would follow.”

The two are exceptionally busy with multiple projects on the go. “My kitchen is a mess, the whiteboard is covered in writing,” said Taika. He has commercials to shoot in the next few months and is looking at three scripts with large studios but is putting things to one side at the moment to promote Shadows.

The future is bright for both Jemaine and Taika and who knows what they will get up to next. Until then, Taika left the audience with a simple message:

“Ask your friends to see the film. If each of you can tell ten people to stop watching My Kitchen Rules for one night, that would be very cool.”

Written for Script to Screen by Jane Bissell

In addition to the 2014 South Auckland Short Film Workshop, Script to Screen is proud to introduce the South Shorts Mentoring Programme.

Six participants of the South Auckland Short Film Workshop will be chosen to participate in a 6 month programme, which offers 30 hours of mentoring on a short film project. The programme will be guide the teams through the process of developing a short film, with the view of either making the film on a low budget, or getting a script ready for a funding application to the New Zealand Film Commission Fresh Shorts funding round in June 2015.

The South Shorts Mentoring Programme aims to identify new talent and push them further on the path to making a short film. We are looking for distinctive new voices with a passion for storytelling. Participants may have some, little or no prior knowledge of filmmaking.

The participants will be chosen based on a combination of a written short film idea and their pitch during the South Auckland Short Film Workshop 2014.

How do I apply?

To be chosen you must attend the 2014 South Auckland Short Film Workshop on 29/30 November 2014. The six participants will be chosen by the panel during the pitching session on Sunday 30 November. You may submit an optional written synopsis of your short film idea to accompany your pitch. You can submit your short film synopsis to Script to Screen (eloise@script-to-screen.co.nz) prior to the workshop, or during the workshop. For more details on the written synopsis see here.

Programme Outline

The South Shorts Mentoring Programme will run into 2015 and participants will need to be available to attend the following days. Dates have not yet been set and will be discussed with the 6 participants in December 2014.

Kick-off Lab (7 hours) – All mentors and participants attend a one day intensive lab to launch the programme.

Ongoing Mentoring (10 hours over a 6 month period) – Participants are each offered 10 hours of one-on-one sessions with their mentor over the course of 6 months. The content of these sessions will be tailored to suit the needs of each team, but centre around developing the story and script, ready for either shooting the film or applying for funding.

Hubs (6 hours) – The participants come together for two 3 hour hub meetings during the six month period. This is a chance for the writers to discuss their experiences, what they are learning and hear from a guest speaker about a particular topic.

Wrap-up Lab (7 hours) – A day together again completes the six-month journey. Teams will chart progress, discuss challenges they encountered and plan the way forward for their film.

This initiative is made possible with assistance from the ASB Community Trust.

After a hugely successful weekend at our annual South Auckland Short Film Workshop, we are excited to be able to announce the six talented storytellers whose pitches incited the imaginations and attentions of our guest judges.

Participants of the free two-day workshop, held at MIT School of Visual Arts in Otara, were encouraged to bring a short film idea to work on while hearing sessions on screenwriting, directing, casting and working with actors. The sessions were delivered by experienced filmmakers including actor/writer/director Rene Naufahu, writer/director Michael Bennett, writer/director Zia Mandviwalla, casting director Yvette Reid and actor/director Rachel House. At the end of the workshop all 28 participants were given 4 minutes to pitch their short film idea to experienced industry professionals.

Congratulations to the following winners, and their pitched ideas:

Vela Manusaute – The Messiah
Levi Matautia-Morgan – Whakarongo
Mary Campbell and Maria Walker – Matakite
Louise Tu’u – Déjeuner
Lene Aiono – The Cut Doctor and the Boxer
Isaac Weeks – Lost

These winners will be offered a place on our new six-month mentorship programme in which they will be guided by industry professionals through the filmmaking process. The ultimate aim of each mentorship will be to get each short film off the ground, whether this means writing a script, preparing for a funding application, or making the film on a micro-budget.

Warmest thanks to our judges who made the tough decisions: writer/director Michael Bennett (Te Arawa) and Performing Arts Tutor at MIT, Chris Molloy (Ngati Manawa, Ngai Tuhoe). Also thanks to Whetu Fala (NZFC) for her presence and support at the workshop. The calibre of the pitches this year was phenomenal, and truly exemplary of the quality of the stories and storytellers in the South Auckland community.

This pilot programme is made possible through financial assistance from the ASB Community Trust.

Are you a filmmaker with aspirations to cut through the clutter in the global marketplace?

WIFT NZ and Script to Screen present a special discussion with Matt Baker (Director of Acquisitions at HanWay Films), Carole Sheridan (producer, founder of Singer Films, and former Exec. Producer Scottish Screen) and Joe Oppenheimer (Commissioning Editor at BBC Films). Join us to hear from these esteemed internationals as they talk to NZ producer and lecturer in screen (AUT) Christina Milligan about the films that are capturing their attention right now, and why.

Don’t miss this chance to learn from those with decades of market experience as they shed light on what distributors, sales agents, potential international partners and audiences are looking for in the current landscape.

Thurs 27 Nov, drinks 6pm, event 6:30-7:30pm, The Loft, Q Theatre, 305 Queen Street, $5 koha appreciated.

Matt Baker, Carole Sheridan and Joe Oppenheimer are here for WIFT‘s Finance and Co-Production Summit.

This event is brought to you with financial support from the NZ Film Commission.

Congratulations to the six talented writers that have been chosen to take part in our first Writers’ Lab Aotearoa:

Gillian Ashurst with RATTLED

Kelly Kilgour with RETURN

Maile Daugherty with MISSU PEACE

Miriam Smith with THE MOUNTAIN UNSEEN

Nic Gorman with HUMAN TRACES

Tusi Tamasese with TILA AND TAEMA

These writers will undergo intensive workshopping of their feature projects over the course of a five-day residential lab on Waiheke Island at the beginning of July. Mentorship will come from prestigious international and local professionals: US screenwriters Michael Goldenberg and David Seidler as well as an exciting line-up of kiwis soon to be announced.

Script to Screen received 55 applications from writers and writing teams. A selection panel of industry practitioners read these blind in order to create a shortlist of twelve. A very warm thank you to all the writers who applied and congratulations to those who made it to the highly competitive shortlist.

The Writers’ Lab Aotearoa is brought to you with the support of the NZ Writers Guild with financial assistance from the NZ Film Commission.

Script to Screen is excited to announce the second mentor for our inaugural Writers’ Lab Aotearoa – the Academy Award winning screenwriter, David Seidler.

I think of a script in terms of music: of ebb and flow, of rhythm. – David Seidler.

David has a vast oeuvre writing for stage, television, and feature film. In 2011, he was rewarded for his talent when he received both an Oscar and BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay for The Kings Speech.

We’re thrilled to have David join us for the first year of this initiative, and know that the participants will benefit hugely from his experience.

David Seidler joins US screenwriter Michael Goldenberg mentoring at our five-day residential Writers’ Lab – with our exciting line-up of local mentors soon to be announced.

The Writers’ Lab Aotearoa is brought to you with support from the New Zealand Writers Guild with financial assistance from the New Zealand Film Commission.

Script to Screen presents 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 and new series Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life.

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 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, the Web Series Channel, or a dedicated website for the series. 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 DazeNia’s Extra Ordinary Life) and creator/producer Kerry Warkia (Auckland DazeFlat3Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life) 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 sharing and discussing ideas.

WHEN: Sat 22nd March, 9am – 5pm

WHERE: CPIT Broadcasting School, 171 Madras St, Christchurch MAP

COST: The workshop is free but please bring your own lunch. Morning and afternoon tea will be provided.

WHAT TO BRING: A formed idea! You will have the chance to share your idea for a web series and get feedback.

REGISTRATION: Please RSVP to Eloise eloise@script-to-screen.co.nz

SCHEDULE:

9am – 10am Welcome, info, refreshments

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

12 – 1pm Lunch. Please bring your own lunch or use the cafés nearby.

1 – 2:30pm Let’s work through your ideas!

2:30-3pm Afternoon tea

4:30-5pm Wrap up, evaluation

  • Development Programmes
  • Talks
  • Workshops
  • Big Screen Symposium
  • NEWS