Win puts film­maker in the front row

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CHLOE RANFORD

Spon­sor­ship is just the ticket for a Marl­bor­ough film­maker, who is off to an an­nual film con­fer­ence in Welling­ton next week.

New­comer Matt John­stone has won a trip to the 2018 Screen Pro­duc­tion And De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (SPADA) con­fer­ence ‘The Power Of Emo­tion’, which runs from Novem­ber 15 to 16.

It is part of the Marl­bor­ough Dis­trict Coun­cil and Screen Welling­ton’s joint ef­fort to help pro­mote the re­gion’s bud­ding film in­dus­try, as passed in the re­cently ap­proved long-term plan.

John­stone said he put his name into the draw at the Top of the South Film Fes­ti­val last month af­ter en­cour­age­ment from his sis­ter and girl­friend, but never ex­pected to be picked.

‘‘I never win any­thing, but I thought, ‘what’s the worst that could hap­pen?’

‘‘Then I got a phone call say­ing I’d won the spon­sor­ship. It was sur­priz­ing.’’

Screen Welling­ton would fund his at­ten­dance to the con­fer­ence, while the coun­cil would pay for his flights.

The coun­cil’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ad­vi­sor, Alis­tair Schorn, said the part­ner­ship would not just pro­mote the re­gion as a film­ing des­ti­na­tion, but also build ca­pac­ity among lo­cal film­mak­ers, such as John­stone.

Marl­bor­ough was a ‘‘great place for films’’ thanks to its clement weather and di­verse lo­ca­tions, John­stone said.

‘‘Our long sun­shine hours re­duce pro­duc­tion costs, es­pe­cially in terms of light­ing, and also al­low for con­sis­tent film­ing con­di­tions,’’ he said.

‘‘We also have strong di­ver­sity in terms of lo­ca­tions - like the Wairau Plains, the Marl­bor­ough Sounds, Para Swamp, our count­less beaches, and more and there’s not a lot of travel time be­tween them.’’

He said the con­fer­ence would al­low him to make ‘‘new and in­ter­est­ing’’ con­nec­tions, fur­ther his in­sight into the New Zealand film in­dus­try, and pro­mote Marl­bor­ough.

John­stone hoped in fu­ture the re­gion would set up a hub so film­mak­ers could gain ac­cess to re­sources, con­tacts and a ‘‘data­base of knowl­edge’’ prior to film­ing.

The hope was part of John­stone’s on­go­ing dream to turn his film­mak­ing hobby into a full­time ca­reer, af­ter dis­cov­er­ing his love of the film in­dus­try sev­eral years ago.

‘‘I spent a cou­ple of films as a grip and a stage hand, learn­ing through ob­ser­va­tion,’’ he said. ‘‘It was not long af­ter that that I jumped into the deep end.’’

John­stone en­tered the Top of the South Film Fes­ti­val in 2016 with a cur­rent af­fairs mock­u­men­tary called Steel­ing the Show, which won the ‘Best Com­edy Film’ award.

‘‘My sec­ond film was a sci-fi hor­ror on alien ab­duc­tion, while my third was a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic com­edy,’’ he said.

John­stone has to file a re­port at the end of the con­fer­ence, which would then be dis­trib­uted to the coun­cil, stake­hold­ers and the Top of the South Film Pro­duc­tion So­ci­ety.

Schorn said the re­port would fur­ther ce­ment the re­la­tion­ship with Screen Welling­ton and help the coun­cil un­der­stand bet­ter the value such spon­sor­ships had go­ing for­ward.

‘‘And if it’s suc­cess­ful - say he got a lot of value out of the con­fer­ence, if it leads to more op­por­tu­ni­ties for him be­cause by at­tend­ing he makes some con­tacts - then at least we can track that as well.

Schorn said John­stone was also re­quired to main­tain ‘‘some so­cial me­dia pres­ence’’ dur­ing the SPADA con­fer­ence.

Once com­pleted, the coun­cil would look at pur­su­ing sim­i­lar film-based op­por­tu­ni­ties for the re­gion, Schorn said.

SCOTT HAM­MOND/STUFF

Matt John­stone is off to the Power of Emo­tion film con­fer­ence in Welling­ton.

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