Film Sprites PR At Big Screen Symposium 2017

Film Sprites PR at Big Screen Symposium 17

On the weekend of September 30 and October 1st, people from the entire spectrum of the film industry in New Zealand converged on Auckland to take part in Big Screen Symposium 2017. It was Film Sprites PR‘s first year at the Symposium, and due to the fact that we’ve worked mostly with international films thus far, it felt like a bit of a homecoming. For two wonderful days we were treated to a line-up which included speakers from various threads of the industry, including directors, producers, a casting agent, and writers. There was also plenty of time to network and catch up with old friends (as well as make some new ones).

The theme of Big Screen Symposium 17 was Authenticity and Pretence, a theme which is so pertinent in the digital age. As Big Screen Symposium Director Esther Cahill-Chiaroni notes in her introductory letter which accompanied the schedule: “[i]n an age of selfies and fake news, what is the role of the storyteller and how is it that sometimes ‘making shit up’ enables us to get closer to the truth?” Thanks to the wealth of information given via talks, masterclasses and the keynote address, I know we all came away with our own unique answer for that question.

Participants were spoiled for choice when it came to selecting which sessions to attend, because there were so many tempting choices and so many opportunities to learn even more! In particular, I thoroughly enjoyed the masterclass with writer/director David Michôd. I personally consider his first feature, Animal Kingdom, to be one of the finest Australian films of the 21st century, so to hear about the process behind this film (and his latest, War Machine, now on Netflix) was refreshing. I can definitely say his road to the completion of Animal Kingdom is the definition of “authenticity”, especially when it came to the remarkable performances of his cast, including Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver.

Equally engaging was the Casting Matters session with casting director Kerry Barden of Barden Schnee Casting. Kerry’s credits include American Psycho, Spotlight, August: Osage County and Winter’s Bone (and that’s a fraction of his credits!). It was interesting to discover the role of a casting director, the interaction between casting directors and the film’s director and listen to Kerry’s anecdotes about working in the film industry.

From the producing side of things, it was a delight to hear from Kylie du Fresne of Goalpost Pictures Australia (whose producing credits include the smash hit The Sapphires and popular TV series Cleverman), and Midge Sandford (whose first project as Sanford/Pillsbury Productions with her producing partner Sarah Pillsbury was Desperately Seeking Susan). One of the really interesting things that came out of both sessions from both speakers was the concept of having a producing partner, and how beneficial that can be from a producing point of view.

As well as publicity and digital marketing, distribution is one of my great areas of interest in the film industry, so it was a real treat to hear from Peter Broderick, distribution expert, leading the charge in the “New World of Distribution”. His knowledge of distribution is so pertinent, I encourage you to go to his website and make sure you sign up to his mailing list. Peter was knowledgeable, but also incredibly approachable and engaging (and let’s face it- I’m always going to like someone who has a giraffe on their business card and penguins on their website!).

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention NZFC CEO Dave Gibson’s final address in this current position, where he announced additions to NZFC’s gender policy, which you can read here. It’s a step in the right direction to not only encourage women to participate in the film industry, but to continue to support women currently working in the industry as well.

If you want to see the entire line-up of speakers who attended Big Screen 17, you can look on the website. A massive thank-you to everyone involved in the weekend, from the Big Screen Symposium team through to the speakers, sponsors and everyone working behind the scenes to make things run smoothly. I look forward to attending next year.

Our Picks of the Flicks At NZIFF 2017

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It’s that time of year again- time to gear up for the New Zealand International Film Festival! Not content to warm the cockles of the hearts of one region in NZ, the NZIFF brings cinematic delights to Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gore, Hamilton, Hawke’s Bay, Masterton, Nelson, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Timaru and Wellington (dates of Festival and selections vary depending on region).

Without doubt, Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal is a magnificent venue in which to experience what the Festival has to offer, and it has risen like a phoenix rising from the ashes in post-quake Christchurch. After sustaining damage during the 22nd February earthquake (and subsequent aftershocks) in 2011, the Isaac Theatre Royal was lovingly rebuilt and restored to glory (find out the history of the theatre here) and was fully equipped to bring the magic of cinema back into such a grand establishment. In order to accommodate the sheer number of cinematic delights on offer each year, Hoyts Northlands also holds a number of screenings during the Festival.

NZIFF brings the best of the world and Aotearoa to film lovers every year, and 2017 is no exception. Here’s some of our picks for the Christchurch leg of the Festival:

Homegrown Delights

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Nic Gorman’s Human Traces

NZIFF is always a fantastic place to celebrate the creativity and energy of local filmmakers, and this year is no exception. Christchurch has the privilege of  hosting not one but three films making their world premiere this year. Debuting at the festival are Human Traces, One Island of Good and Seven Rivers Walking- Haere Mārire, all of which have special connections to the Christchurch area. Kiwi filmmaker Toa Fraser has two offerings in the festival this year, the nail-biting hostage thriller 6 Days (starring Mark Strong, Abbie Cornish and Jamie Bell) and extreme sports documentary The Free Man.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Festival fave Florian Habicht is back with Spookers, a look behind the scares at the popular fun park occupying the former Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital. After seeing the trailer at the NZIFF programme launch, it was hard not to be charmed by the many characters who bring the scares to life for eager patrons.

And one of the most eagerly anticipated Kiwi films has to be Gaylene Preston’s My Year With Helen, an intimate observational documentary as Preston follows former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark during her candidacy for the position of UN Secretary General. Both Christchurch screenings feature a Q+A with director Gaylene Preston at the end of the film.

Fresh From Cannes

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Ruben Östlund’s The Square

Yet again the Festival brings the best of Cannes to Aotearoa with some hotly anticipated films. Fresh from receiving the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2017, Ruben Östlund’s The Square is satire at its best. Fans of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster can rejoice as he returns with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell. Cinephiles get a double dose of Kidman and Farrell as both also star in another Cannes selection, Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled. Other Cannes picks include Wind River, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless and Miike Takashi’s Blade of the Immortal.

Classic Cinema Experiences

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker

As if the amazing fresh picks above weren’t enough for cinephiles, NZIFF is bringing Christchurch fans to two incredible cinematic experiences from the past. A definite must-see is Andrei Tarkovsky’s newly restored post-apocalyptic classic, Stalker. If you’re a Tarkovsky fan but have never seen his work on the big screen, now’s the time. And finally, the incredible Christchurch Symphony Orchestra provides the live soundtrack for Christchurch NZIFF’s Live Cinema event, Buster Keaton’s classic silent comedy Our Hospitality. No doubt it will be an event to treasure.

This is just a fraction of what NZIFF 2017 has to offer, so make sure you head over to the website. There you’ll find the full programme, and if you sign up for My NZIFF you can build a wishlist for this year’s festival. Avoid timetabling clashes and build the Festival schedule of your dreams with the click of a button!


We want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone at NZIFF, the volunteers in every region, as well as the Christchurch team and the Isaac Theatre Royal for putting on a genuinely magnificent programme launch this week. We know the Festival is going to be a tremendous success this year.