Tag Archive for: producer

Congratulations, Harry Wynn (DEGANZ), for winning the Screen Production and Development Association’s (SPADA) 2023 New Filmmaker of the Year Award! SPADA grants this award to honour excellence, talent, and creativity in filmmaking.

Along with the accolade, Harry received $2,500 of development funding and a complimentary registration to next year’s SPADA Conference.

Harry has made a name for himself in the documentary space over the past few years. In 2022, he released Shred, a short about a teenage bodybuilder who takes drastic measures in pursuit of winning his first bodybuilding competition. In the same year, he produced What’s the Disibili-tea, a docu-series profiling young queer people living with disabilities in Aotearoa, directed by DEGANZ board member Justin Scott. His other titles include Young & Hooked on Chemsex, released on TVNZ+, and Three Ticks for Chlöe for the Spinoff.

Harry is currently developing his first feature-length doco with funding from Screen Australia. He also has been selected for the next round of Script to Screen’s development and mentorship programme, FilmUp.

Harry is in good company as fellow member Mia Maramara won the same award for 2021, which she was awarded at the 2022 conference last year.

Web series TransGenerations won Best Web Series at the Berlin Short Film Festival. The production’s core team is chock full of DEGANZ members, with Naashon Zalk as Producer and DOP, Jai Waite as Editor, and Ramon Te Wake as Executive Producer.

Since its release, the series has screened in a plethora of festivals ranging from the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Korea, and now Germany.

The series platforms trans rights activists to share their stories and shine a light on trans experiences in Aotearoa. Across eight parts, trans people in their 20s to their 70s talk openly about their lives, identities, and passions, while discussing stereotypes, politics, and prejudice.

In an article with the NZ Herald, Naashon shared that the series came at an important time, saying:

In the past few years, there has been an alarming international rise in anti-trans rhetoric, anti-trans violence and anti-trans legislation. We hope this series helps, in its own small way, to counterbalance that by showing the realities of what it means to be trans in this day and age.

Congratulations to the team on the win!

While we wait for season 2 of Down for Love, season 1 of the wholesome reality series, produced by DEGANZ board president Robyn Paterson, caught the eye of Netflix and is now internationally available on the streaming service!

As described in the show’s logline, the “heartwarming quest for love […] follows several people with Down Syndrome as they navigate the trials and triumphs of dating.” The show takes you along on a series of dates between the singletons as they search for their right match.

While adhering to the match-making reality TV genre, the series is uniquely personal to the participants due to the production’s dedication to thorough research of what each person was looking for in a partner, what sort of date activities they’d enjoy, and their plans for the future. In an interview with The Spinoff in 2022, Robyn shared that the show’s match-making strategy was based on pairing people with similar lifestyles and interests, not what would create the most drama. She commented,

[A]t the very least, if there wasn’t a romantic connection they would get a really solid friendship.

In the same interview, Robyn shared how the entire production had an extended duty of care, from comfortable scheduling for the participants to having disability-specific counsellors available. She also explained that allowing the participants control over their own stories was crucial. She said,

We really wanted people to stay in the driver’s seat of their own stories. Especially with intellectual disabilities, because people aren’t often afforded the right to tell their own stories.

Audiences were perceptive to the production’s care for the participants, causing the show to amass a strong following of viewers from its debut season.

Congrats to Robyn and the team! It’s great to see a Kiwi show earn its spot on such a popular international streaming service.

Kiwi audiences can watch season 1 of Down for Love on TVNZ+, while the rest of the world can catch it on Netflix.

I am a Film School dropout and my slow but steady trajectory from PA to Director/Producer is the classic example of working my way up from the bottom.

In the mid-eighties I was studying at one of the best TV/Film Schools in Toronto, Canada; an institution formally known as Ryerson. In my first year a Kiwi boy I’d met while traveling in the Middle East the year before turned up on my doorstep. He convinced me to take a year off (it was a 3-year programme) to come with him to NZ. I did, and I never went back.

In NZ I got a job as a production assistant at a company called Northern Television. Northern made TV commercials, broadcast programmes (drama/comedy/entertainment), and corporate videos. I was lucky to work across them all in a junior ‘do whatever is needed’ role. I worked with industry luminaries like Robin Scholes (producer), Andy Shaw (director/TV exec), John Cavill (DOP), and Brian Shaw (Editor). My boss was the extraordinary, smart, and slightly terrifying Linda (Tex) Milton. Sadly, Tex passed away a few years ago but she was a wonderful mentor who was generous with her knowledge and very supportive of my aspirations to learn as much as I could about production.

Director Leanne Pooley in Rome and Africa for BBC documentary ‘God’s Candidates’ in 1994 / Photo: Supplied

After Northern, I became a TPA (Television Producer’s Assistant) at TVNZ and spent four years there working on everything from sports to drama. I was then hired as a trainee director on a programme called First Hand; a series in which directors used new lightweight cameras (Hi-8) to make documentaries. First Hand storytellers filled all the production roles; camera, sound, editing, writing, and directing. We were the original one-person band. It was an amazing opportunity to learn under the tutelage of Richard Thomas and George Andrews; two stalwarts of the documentary genre. Doing every role meant the filmmakers came to appreciate all the components that go into a documentary. We were also faced with our own mistakes in the cutting room, a very steep learning curve indeed. First Hand was responsible for launching the careers of a number of highly successful broadcast professionals. Alan Erson went on to become Head of Documentaries at the ABC. David Ambler is a BAFTA-winning producer at the BBC, Mark McNeil runs the highly successful award-winning company Razor Films, and Peta Carey is a celebrated filmmaker and author. It was an incredible breeding ground for talent and I was very lucky to be part of the First Hand incubator.

Leanne on set for her 2013 documentary ‘Beyond the Edge’ / Photo: Supplied

In 1992 I moved to England where I was hired as a director/camera person on the acclaimed BBC series 40 Minutes helmed by the legendary documentarian Paul Watson. This was the first of many documentaries I made over the course of five years in Britain. I directed films for blue chip series including; Everyman, Omnibus, Frontline, Modern Times, and Eyewitness amongst others. My time in England solidified my position as a documentary filmmaker, I learned from the best in the business and when I returned to NZ to have my first child, I established my company SPACIFIC FILMS (25 years ago).

My trajectory has combined a little bit of study, a lot of luck, and some bloody hard work. It’s been a ride that’s for sure and I’m still with the boy who turned up in Toronto all those years ago.

About Leanne Pooley

A documentary filmmaker for over 25 years, Leanne has directed films all over the world and has won numerous awards (including Best Documentary at TIFF). Leanne is a New Zealand Arts Laureate, a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and was named an “Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit” for Services to Documentary Filmmaking in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List. Her work includes The Girl on the Bridge on suicide survivor and activist Jazz Thornton, We Need to Talk About A.I. for Universal Pictures and GFC, the animated feature documentary 25 April, and acclaimed local box office success Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls. Most recently, she produced Dame Valerie Adams: MORE THAN GOLD on the titular Olympic champion.

How I Got Started in the Industry is a 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.

From production company Eight, the powerful documentary film Beyond Conversion is available to watch on TVNZ+.

Produced by DEGANZ member Leanne Pooley and directed by Loren Prendiville, Beyond Conversion is an intimate look at the fight to ban conversion practices in Aotearoa.

The story is told through the voices of Kiwi survivors, who have laid themselves bare to shed light on the impacts of conversion practices. The film explores the complexities of this divisive issue, along with the spectrum of voices and opinions that came to light during the political process.

The documentary was produced via Eight’s The Story Department, which was launched in 2020 with an aim to tell stories about strong females, underrepresented voices, superhuman fighters and incredible achievers.

Beyond Conversion explores religious freedom, personal identity and the meaning of choice. Watch the trailer here.