Te Ata Film Forum big success

Simon Raby, Lori Balton, Anton Steel, Kent Masuoka, Dow Griffith, and Phillippa Mossman from the NZ Film Commission

Bay of Plenty Film hosted the Te Ata Bay of Plenty Film Forum recently at the Otamarakau Marae, near Pikowai.

The forum included workshops, panels, and keynote messages from film industry leaders, attracting over 70 attendees.

There were mostly directors, producers, writers and technical people present from across New Zealand, as well as digital content creators and tech developers from the Digital Basecamp in Rotorua, and international film directors.

Lori Balton, Dow Griffithand Kent Matsuoka, all international location scouts from the USA, ran a panel discussion on what their role entails. They had spent the days prior to the conference visiting locations around the Bay of Plenty with Anton Steel, CEO of BOP Film.

“This film forum is a time for the regional screen media industry to come together,” says Anton. “To look at the growth potential of the local industry, to explore it’s strengths as a community, create shared pathways forward and to be inspired and learn from others.”

“Te Ata” means “the dawn” and the inaugural film forum focused on the dawn of a fulfilling and sustainable screen media industry in the Bay. 

After a welcoming powhiri, Kylie Dellabarca Steel led the forum in a mihi, with everyone introducing themselves, and outlining the type of work they do.

As well as the three locations scouts, the guest speakers included Heperi Mita, Simon Raby, Jude McLaren and Phillippa Mossman.

Heperi has grown up in a Hollywood environment after his parents moved there. His mother is Merata Mita, a pioneering Māori film-maker who was born in Maketu and has become a significant and key figure in the growth of the Māori screen industry. Heperi, who works at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, New Zealand’s audiovisual archive, spoke of his own journey in creating a documentary of his mother’s life.

Simon Raby’s topic was “Framing the Landscape as Character”. He has recently shot Peter Jackson’s “Mortal Engines”, and gave encouraging advice to the gathered film makers, both new and experienced.

Rounding off the keynote speakers was Jude McLaren from the New Zealand Film Commission. As the talent pathways manager, she spoke of the range of roles involved in bringing stories forward, and focusing on making the transition from short form to long form drama.

Break-out groups discussed aspects of the film industry momentum in the Bay of Plenty

There was plenty of time for networking, with the sunny weather allowing for an outdoor lunch from El Mono Loco staff who served food from their food truck. Dinner was a hangi put down by caterers at the marae. The evening was opened to the public, with the screening of locally produced short films highlighting the Bay of Plenty’s locations and local talent.

“It was fantastic to connect so many key Bay of Plenty, national and international film industry players in one place,” says Kristy Robinson, coordinator for BOP Film. “We’ve had some amazing feedback from the weekend. It’s been really inspiring for the participants and for us. ‘Together we achieve’ more is one of the things that came out of the weekend, and we look forward to driving the industry forward.”

The forum presentations were mostly held in the whirinui at Ōtamarākau Marae

Lunch from a food truck outdoors overlooking the beach at Ōtamarākau Marae

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