Saturday, April 26, 2008

More unheroic slog

By special request and because it really is time that we made an update for anyone who's interested, here is the latest on "There Once was an Island: Te Henua e Noho".

In the year or so since my last post we have not been idle. We completed the promo mentioned previously, which was dispatched to Screen Innovation in April last year. Screen Innovation elected not to give us further funding given that they felt we would be able to finish the film without this. We were therefore unable to follow up on the kind offer to travel to the island with the ham radio enthusiasts, so we turned our attention to getting 120 hours of footage from the first shoot fully captured onto two harddrives kindly lent by Zane Holmes. Post-production facility Images and Sound have been incredibly supportive and allowed us to use their facilities through what was a very long video capturing process. We employed a fantastic assistant editor, Glenn Horan, to help get it done, and also made use of an editing suite at Auckland University's Film, Television and Media Studies department. Briar and Prisca Bouchet were absolute trojans in keeping on at this till the mammoth task was finally done. Around this time we also adopted an intern from the Master of Creative and Performing Arts at AU. Pramen Prasad is the most organised character to set foot in our office. He put in an application for funding for to bring an interview translator from Takuu to the Cathy Pelly Trust. We unfortunately didn't get the money, but it wasn't for want of a great application, that's for sure.

Things on the edit began to progress faster when Zane Holmes donated the use of his personal editing suite. We've been working on this part time (which is all our schedules will allow) since mid-year last year. This was an amazing thing to offer and is just unbelievably appreciated.

About this time Lyn put in a funding application to the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust, and that was successful to the tune of $10,000. This is less than what we need to return to the island and complete our story, but a large grant for the Trust in question and a great start.

At this time we decided to put in an application to Pacific Islanders in Communications. To do this we knew we'd need to work with an American producer. Briar had met Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, directors of the amazing documentary "A Lion in the House" at the New Zealand International Film Festival last year. Through them we made contact with Andrea Torrice, a brilliant director and producer, possibly most famous for her film "Rising Waters" about sea-level rise in many parts of the world. While she finally decided she couldn't come on board as producer, she did agree to act as script consultant, and we finally found the young and extremely talented Yoran Porath to work with us. The application was lodged with PICCOM in October.

A little before this we had applied to pitch the film at DocNZ and were delighted to be accepted to showcase the work done to date to commissioning editors from ITVS, Al Jazeera English, SBS, ABC Australia, TVNZ, Maori Television and others. We also undertook a master class in pitching with Carole Dean of the From the Heart who was great to work with. On the basis of the feedback we got at DocNZ we prepared applications for ITVS and Maori TV. Briar also put in an application to Wide Angle.

In between all of the applications Briar and Prisca have been editing the film and with a grant from Zane Holmes and some of the money awarded by the Pacific Conservation and Development Trust we finally managed to bring Rose Tione over to complete our translations. Sony leant us a camera to burn DVD's for Rose to work from which was just unbelievably appreciated. Rose is currently here in New Zealand and will be returning home in May. She has been great to work with and has adjusted to life in New Zealand incredibly well. It's been such a pleasure having her here.

The applications to PICCOM, ITVS and Maori TV were not successful, so we still don't have enough money to return to the island. However PICCOM have asked us to resubmit our application, which we just did this morning, and we may yet get a grant from them. This would allow us to complete the film as written, as long as we continue to work for free. Wide Angle have shown some interest in the project and have asked for more material, so we will be sending this to them shortly. We hope that our moves to make the story more character-driven and focus closely on climate change may prove fruitful in getting a committment from either funder. If that doesn't work we have a French language prop finally ready to send to ARTE in Europe, and Al Jazeera English may be able to offer us a limited amount of money for a 20 minute current-events cut for a magazine show.

Our final application will be to the Sundance Foundation. If we don't receive any money we will complete a cut from the footage we currently have.

None of the above makes a particularly exciting story when told in dribs and drabs, which is why I haven't been keeping the blog regularly updated. However, things do continue to move along. If anyone out there is concerned that the film isn't being made fast enough I would encourage them to consider digging deep. A lack of funding the only thing standing in our way. Briar, Prisca and I all work full-time as well as doing the film, and we all put our time and our own money into it week after week. Zane has obviously donated a significant chunk of money and equipment and Sony has yet again come to the party to help us, as have Images and Sound. Annie Goldson continues to offer support. We just wish that we could finally get enough cash to finish the film and tell the story of the island in the words of its people. At the moment we can get the film in the can for about US$50,000, which with today's rate of exchange is about NZ$70,000. If you want to see this film, if you believe in what we're doing and you think you can help, then I would encourage you to get in contact. We'd love to hear from you.


Emmanuel Narokobi said...

Hi found your blog on a random search on google. I could possibly do a bit of a write up on what you guys are doing on my blog. I get an average of 5,000 hits a month, so hope that might help??

On another aspect I've noticed that all your requests for funding and promotion for the documentary appears to be entirely overseas. You haven't done any promotions in PNG or little if any.

So I'm just thinking that since the material of doco is from PNG then I'm sure PNG companies would lend a hand for funding or assistance in kind.

Vagabond-X said...

I live on the opposite side of the world, but I would like to do what I can for these people. Unfortunately, it has been impossible for me to find any information or contacts. What can I do from here?

Lyn said...

Sorry to miss both these comments - I need to reconfigure this to send notifications to our gmail account. Emmanuel - we would love to get PNG input if possible and please do link to us as we head into the country.

Vagabond - You can give a donation to the people of the island as they're currently having a funding drive. Email and someone will let you know the situation.