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Charming local drama Poppy has been awarded Best Narrative Feature at the Socially Relevant Film Festival in New York. DEGANZ member Jonno Woodford-Robinson edited the feature and worked with Amanda Mulderry (DEGANZ), who was first assistant editor.

Released in New Zealand in 2021, Poppy tells a story of a Kapiti teenager who is eager for independence and a chance at love. It’s the first Kiwi feature to cast an actor with Down syndrome in a leading role.

The Socially Relevant Film Festival focuses on socially relevant content that promotes human stories and raises awareness of social problems. Through the medium of cinema, SRFF aims to expand knowledge about diversity and create a world free of violence, crime and hate.

Congratulations to Jonno, Amanda and the rest of the Poppy team!

I originally studied cinematography at film school and ended up getting work in the lighting department for about four years on TV commercials, TV drama and films. I’m a fairly quiet person and had romantic notions of being quiet, cowering behind a camera.

One workless winter, I asked my flatmate, who was an editor about her work and I took an immediate interest in her response. After downloading the trial version of Final Cut Pro 7 and working through hours of tutorials, I made the impulsive choice to switch from lighting to editing, trading one kind of back pain (standing) for another (sitting). Through my flatmate, I spent a few months interning and an additional year working full-time in a tape library, so I could get a handle on the technology.

After cutting a few short films on the side, I really wanted to end up cutting feature films. I did some research (googled ‘how do I become a feature film editor’) and found the best way for me was to become an assistant editor on scripted dramas. I could upskill on the technical side and learn as much as I could working for editors who had made it.

I bothered every production company I’d worked for as a lighting technician and got work ingesting and syncing on travel and cooking shows. From there, I got my first scripted assisting on TV commercials, scripted TV and films until I ended up in assembly editing on set for an NZFC short film. After that, the producer got me into commercial editing work, so I was able to move on from assisting.

I was getting a lot of advertising/content work, but the drama work was pretty scarce. I’m quite bad at networking, but reluctantly ended up bothering a producer I wanted to work with. I met with her for a coffee and from there I cut a music video that she produced.

Brendon’s Diagram of Connections

  • Through this, I got to cut a drama pilot through the DoP of the music video.
  • After cutting the music video, the producer I’d spoken to offered me an NZFC short.
  • The director of the music video offered me another NZFC short.
  • From someone who’d see the pilot, I was offered a (paid!) web series.
  • From the two NZFC shorts I’d cut, I got offered a TV drama.
  • The producer of the web series recently offered me another TV drama.

What I think I’m trying to say is that being keen and possibly the last person a producer had coffee with before crewing can have a huge knock on effect.

The one thing I’d recommend for anyone is to make those seemingly unattainable connections. You could be extremely skilled, but that doesn’t mean a thing if no one knows who you are. I’m admittedly quite shy, however, the last few years which are the best of my career were only possible because I tried to make meaningful connections, despite being extremely reluctant. From there, I was able to trade cowering behind a camera for cowering behind an edit suite.

 


About Brendon Chan

Brendon entered post production in 2010 as an assistant editor, where he worked on feature films, such as Born to Dance, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Black Christmas. He made the leap to editing full-time in 2017, working across a broad range of television, web and film content. The most recent work he’d like to shamefully promote is the TVNZ drama series The Pact.

brendonchan.com

How I Got Started in the Industry is a new guest blog series from the Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand (DEGANZ). Our members reflect on how they made their way into assistant editing, editing, and directing—with no two stories the same. They offer advice for those starting out. Get in touch with admin@deganz.co.nz if you’re a member and would like to share your story.

 

An exciting new film festival is coming to Auckland! Showcasing films featured at this year’s NZIFF, as well as international talent, In The Shade will commence early next year on January 19 and runs until February 1. Fiona Clark: Unafraid is part of the line-up.

DEGANZ member Lula Cucchiara directed the documentary, with Shailesh Prajapati as assistant editor. The film explores radical photographer Fiona Clark and her work, which captured the burgeoning gay liberation movement and vibrant queer scene in 1970’s New Zealand.

The festival will be exclusive to Academy Cinemas and the Hollywood in Avondale, and will include international films sourced from some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, such as Sundance, Cannes and Toronto.

When speaking of the current state of Auckland’s cinema scene, In The Shade commented that “Auckland is currently in the throes of a big screen drought, the like never seen in our moviegoing lifetimes”. Therefore, quenching Aucklander’s “insatiable hunger for the very best cinema from around the world” is what the festival hopes to do.

Fiona Clark: Unafraid has recently enjoyed a run as part of NZIFF, and will no doubt be an exciting addition to the new In The Shade film festival as well. Other films announced as part of the programme can be found on the festival’s website, with more titles being added in the coming weeks.

My first job right out of film school was to take over an overnight unpaid assistant editing job on a low budget feature… and I had no idea what I was doing.

Film school gave me friends in the same industry, and a good grasp on how to use Avid and what editing was about creatively, but at the time there was little instruction on the technical aspects that the assistant editor role required. I think we only had one day on how to assist!

I was given a short overview of the job by the previous assistant and was left to it. It was a little bit of a trial by fire but (thank goodness for the internet) I was able to google answers to just about everything I had questions for.

I communicated with the editor via a notepad, and he offered something amazing—if I wanted to cut some of the rushes, he would watch and give me feedback. So I spent half of the night importing, syncing and organising, and the other half cutting! It was an excellent learning experience and when we eventually met in person, he told me that he always offered that to his assistants, but nobody ever took him up on it! My next three projects were with the same editor, since at the time nobody else knew who I was.

My first job outside of my editing mentor came through Women in Film and Television (WIFT). I met a producer at a networking event who needed an assistant. My following job also came through attending a WIFT meeting, though kind of sideways… I had been offered a data wrangling job via email but the message went to my spam folder! Luckily the person who messaged me saw me at a WIFT event and asked me about it.

My first job, the unpaid overnight one, was in December 2009. The data wrangling job came in July 2010, and it allowed me to finally quit delivering pizza and move into the film industry full-time.

Kerri with her first editor carpark as an editor on The Brokenwood Mysteries / Photo: Supplied

My first bit of advice, and I know this may be super obvious, is to make sure you do your job reliably. You don’t have to go overboard, but producers and editors expect you to get your work done. Make sure you know what they need from you—and do it well. If you make their working life easier, they’ll call you again.

I assisted full-time from 2010 until 2016. During this period I cut as many side projects as possible in my spare time. At the beginning, most were unpaid (or lightly paid) passion projects from other creatives who were also in the early stages of their careers. It took a lot of energy, and it sucks that most of these early jobs are unpaid, but working on so many short films and music videos really honed my storytelling skills. I should also shout out the DEGANZ editing masterclasses! I had the opportunity to attend two of them and they were so valuable in helping me upskill.

Making the move from assistant to editor was really scary. I was at a point in my assisting career where I was very busy. I was also occasionally getting offers for small editing jobs that I had to turn down because I was already occupied by assistant work. You could make a great career out of assisting, but that’s not what I wanted, so I had to stop taking assistant work and focus on selling my skills as an editor. My first year exclusively editing was slow, and as a result I took a big pay cut. But I kept pushing and slowly built a good reputation as an editor and started getting return calls.

My advice for people entering the industry is to say yes to opportunities as often as you can without burning yourself out. Work hard, practise your craft, and be kind. Be comfortable turning down work that won’t take you where you want to be. And let the people you work with know what your goals are—you’d be surprised how much support you will find!

I’ll always be grateful for the willingness of New Zealand editors to be mentors, to give their time and to uplift anyone who wants to give it a go. I hope I can pay it forward!

 


About Kerri Roggio

Kerri is an Auckland-based editor. In the last few years, she has edited the comedy horror film DEAD; on TV series Mystic (season 2), My Life is Murder (season 2) and The Brokenwood Mysteries (seasons 4-7); as well as short films, documentaries and music videos.

kerriroggio.com

How I Got Started in the Industry is a new guest blog series from the Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand (DEGANZ). Our members reflect on how they made their way into assistant editing, editing, and directing—with no two stories the same. They offer advice for those starting out. Get in touch with admin@deganz.co.nz if you’re a member and would like to share your story.

Congratulations to DEGANZ members whose films have been selected for this year’s Hawai’i International Film Festival (HIFF) in November. Furthermore, several films will be having their US Premieres.

Annually, an average of 150 narrative features, documentaries and shorts are chosen from around 1,500 films. HIFF endeavours to recognise new and emerging talent. In addition, the festival spotlights work that explores social and cultural issues.

High Tide, Don’t Hide is a full-length documentary about teenagers discovering that activism, authority and awareness make for a steep learning curve in the race for existence. The film was written by Niva Kay, DEGANZ member and participant in our Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator 2021. Niva is one of four producer-directors on this film, which is having its US Premiere at HIFF.

Earlier this year, High Tide, Don’t Hide had its World Premiere at the New Zealand Doc Edge Festival, where it won an award for Best New Zealand Editing and a Special Mention in the Best New Zealand Feature category.

The short film Disrupt (pictured above) follows the aftermath of a burglary gone wrong. In it CJ must choose between his whānau or his next fix. DEGANZ member Lisa Greenfield was the editor with Margot Francis (DEGANZ board member) as the supervising editor.

Celia Jasper, writer, director and editor of short film Milk, explores what happens when a young girl sees an old man unable to pay for his milk. It recently won Best Editing at the Venezia Shorts in Italy and is nominated for Best Screenplay at Show Me Shorts.

Teine Sā is a supernatural anthology series based on legends of the Pacific. After centuries of slumber, the ‘Teine Sā’ or ‘the ancient ones’ have been evoked to come into the world once again. Having its US Premiere at HIFF, Teine Sā has a couple of DEGANZ members behind it. Jack Woon was the editor, while Zoey Zhao worked on episode 3 as his assistant editor. Zoey is part of our Incubator 2021.

Inspired by the Black Panther Party in the USA, a group of young radicals from New Zealand follow suit in The Panthers. The six-part mini series made history as the strongest opening week for a drama on TVNZ OnDemand. DEGANZ member Vea Mafile’o directed two episodes.