Win puts filmmaker in the front row
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.
Matt Johnstone is off to the Power of Emotion film conference in Wellington.