The NZCS is pleased to announce we have negotiated several mid-career cinematographer placements on an international feature based in Wellington.
The Attachments provide the opportunity to shadow the Director of Photography on set and experience advanced aspects of the craft including pre-production time where possible.
These will be paid Attachments for a maximum duration of 15 days each. The 1st placement is expected to commence in Wellington around 11th October 2021, although this is dependent upon the current Covid-19 lock-down status in Auckland and may get delayed. The 2nd three week placement will commence approximately 1st November, 2021, subject to the commencement dates of the shoot.
The placements are intended for Wellington locals or candidates who can relocate themselves and self-accommodate. The selected candidates will be issued a standard contract by the Production Company and will join the payroll, per other contractors.
The aim of the Attachment is to:
To provide an opportunity for a mid-career cinematographer to upskill their confidence and ability to produce high quality feature film cinematography, and to provide another training pathway to the limited opportunities currently available. This is not a creative input role, but will be a mentored position, closely shadowing the DP and key technicians at work, observing pre-production and the creative decision making process on set.
Note: Unlike previous NZCS attachments under the Cushla Lewis Gender Diversity Program, this particular opportunity is not limited to female applicants only, however the NZCS remains committed to a mandate to grow and diversify the pool of emerging cinematographers in New Zealand.
To be eligible, applicants must:
Please submit the following in electronic form only (Word file or PDF) by 9am Thursday 23rd September, 2021 to email@example.com with 'Wellington Cinematographer Attachment - application' in the subject line:
A shortlist will be developed from applicants and an interview (in person or virtual) may be required, at which time further details of the production itself will be provided.
The NZCS is very pleased to announce that their application to the NZFC Screen Sector Covid 19 Capability Fund in August, for continuing support of the Cushla Lewis Gender Diversity Program was successful, and we are able to continue this rewarding program forward for another year.
We are now actively seeking production company partners and cinematographers who are willing to mentor up-and-coming female DP’s to help redress the serious imbalance in representation of the genders in our craft. Please click here for more information on the program and stay tuned for upcoming opportunities. For more information, you can reach out to our Professional Development Manager, Donny Duncan NZCS, here.
The NZCS currently has three mentored placements in progress on “Evil Dead Rise” feature film, but the Auckland Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown has halted production in the meantime.
Alyssa Kath and Daniela “Nani” Conforte are both shadowing DP Dave Garbett as mid-career cinematographers and Alice Toomer is camera trainee on the 2nd Unit under the tutelage of 1st AC Bayley Broome-Peake and DP Ziga Zupancic.
The NZCS gives thanks to the NZ Film Commission for their ongoing support.
Every three years the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE or IA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) renegotiate the Hollywood Basic Agreement - the core contract between the IA locals and the studios.
The IA serves as the parent labour organisation for the many smaller local unions in Hollywood and around the U.S. and Canada. These locals represent specific crafts within a designated geographic area. 2021 is a contract year and negotiations are no where near a resolution.
The previous contract between the AMPTP and the 13 Hollywood locals expired on 31 July with no agreement, but an extension to 10 September was granted to allow more negotiating time. 10 September has now come and gone with no agreement. The IA has been in frequent communication with members regarding the grim situation around bargaining, and the word “strike” has become increasingly common on both union forums and Hollywood publications in the past few weeks. The IA has advised its members to continue work as per the previous contract while bargaining continues. In the meantime, all the Hollywood locals are arranging town hall meetings with their membership over the next week.
The negotiations have thus far failed because the IA and its members are demanding substantial, systemic reforms to the industry regarding insufficient wages, unsafe working schedules, and sustainable benefits for members. The 1990s and early 2000s saw significant erosion in union benefits and working conditions, and now in the aftermath of working through the COVID-19 pandemic the membership is demanding reform. Among these reforms are a reduction of hours worked, guaranteed 10 hour turn arounds, and a restructuring of how productions contribute to the union’s healthcare and pension fund.
As we are all too familiar with in New Zealand, wages have not kept pace with the increases in cost of living. While current contracts have provisions for annual raises, they have barely kept pace with inflation. The IA is currently trying to tie wages to the current living wage in Los Angeles and base future raises from there. A recent press release by Local 871 in Los Angeles (script supervisors, coordinators, and accountants) details that some members are making approximately half of the current Los Angeles living wage. Unsuccessful calls for shorter working days began after the death of Focus Puller Brent Hershman in 1997 -who fell asleep while driving home after several consecutive 16 hour days. Six other IA members have suffered the same fate since then, and inspired Haskel Wexler’s documentary “Who Needs Sleep” in 2006. More recently, 13 top cinematographers including Emmanuel Lubezki and Roger Deakins penned an open letter to the studios advocating an hours reduction to the unsafe work schedules. Unfortunately, all of these cries over the last 25 years have fallen on deaf ears.
Union crews in the US also rely on the union for their health insurance and pensions, which are funded by contributions from the studios based on residuals. When productions intended for online streaming platforms began in earnest in the late 2000s, “New Media” contracts with lower rates and reduced benefit contributions were created to help grow the then nascent form of production. However, as the number of productions intended for streaming grows, the healthcare and pension fund has become unsustainable. The IA is looking to restructure contributions from streaming productions to the fund to make it sustainable again.
While in New Zealand we were virtually unaffected by COVID-19, crews in Hollywood worked through the pandemic as soon as it was possible. This included daily testing swabs, frequent stand downs due to cases onset, and the widespread introduction of “French” 10 hour days to U.S. sets for the first time. However, now that COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles are declining, the length of shoot days has returned to the usual 12.5 plus but without the return of lunch breaks.
Having had a brief glimpse of conditions we take for granted here in New Zealand, LA crews are gearing up to strike to improve their contracts. The 13 Hollywood locals (three of which are national: Camera, Editors, and Art Directors Guilds) are fully united for the first time and while a strike is looking increasingly possible, there is hope that a better contract can be struck. Closer to home, this should serve as both a cautionary tale to our New Zealand industry, and as a reason to appreciate the working conditions we have here.
You can read some related articles here:
Deadline "IATSE & Producers Set To Resume Contracts Talks Today"
Variety "IATSE And AMPTP Remain Very Far Apart in Contract Talks"
KCWR article "Hollywood sets: What it's like working 14-hour days, and whether a strike is coming'
Indie Wire "Emmanuel Lubezki, Roger Deakins, and More DPs Urge Hollywood to Address Hazards of Long Workdays"
~ Michael Paletta, 1st AC
7th September 2021 – SCREEN INDUSTRY DISTRIBUTION
Kia ora koutou katoa to all in the Screen Industry, hoping you are all staying safe in your bubbles!
Please note the ScreenSafe COVID-19 Health and Safety team is currently looking at what Protocols need to be reviewed, particularly in light of the new Delta variant.
For now, please refer to the ScreenSafe website https://screensafe.co.nz/covid-19-coronavirus/ – particularly the Protocols and Summary Guidelines around L4, L3, and Level 2.
These are still a really great guide for what is allowed at each level.
You can download today’s update in PDF here.
Level 4: NO filming is possible/other than registered news organisations and essential programming.
Level 3: Very limited production activities may be possible. Please carefully assess whether your activities can be postponed to L2. If not, please carefully assess each action and whether it complies with the guidelines and works to minimise risk at all points.
The key issue to consider for Level 3 is physical distancing. For instance – location scouting, with appropriate PPE, and in controlled circumstances, can be undertaken – depending on the ability to minimise contact / risk / avoidance of breaking bubbles.
Any activity needs to be able to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. This limits both prep and filming activities – e.g. close contact between crew such as a camera team who cannot be physically distanced, or performers and makeup/hair. Please see L3 guidance for full details.
Yesterday the government made some more changes to the COVID-19 rules. The below changes will be reflected in the updated Protocols, but since we know a lot of you are preparing for filming in Level 2, the below will hopefully answer your most pressing questions for Level 2 filming.
Mask wearing is now mandatory for anyone aged 12+ in indoor public places like shops, malls and public spaces: https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-levels-and-updates/alert-level-2/#work-and-business.
For screen work, ScreenSafe highly recommends mask wearing at Level 2. And some productions may require it.
Gatherings (social gatherings, concerts, hospitality businesses, etc.) are now restricted to 50 people for indoor venues and 100 for outdoor venues.
However, work sites like film productions do NOT adhere to number restrictions, PROVIDED they are a working in a fully controlled environment (with contact tracing and health questionnaire for everyone on site, and with all necessary hygiene and PPE measures in place).
Note: Due to the aggressive nature of the Delta virus, productions are advised to take careful consideration before filming with extras and/or large crew numbers during Level 2.
Physical distancing in public places, e.g. retail stores, libraries, gyms and museums will be 2 metres.
However, for work sites like film productions the physical distancing requirement is still 1 metre, PROVIDED they are a working in a fully controlled environment (with contact tracing and health questionnaire for everyone on site, and with all necessary hygiene and PPE measures in place).
Note: Close Proximity work (work within 0-1 metres) like hair and make up are still allowed for, and for screen work is specifically addressed in the Close Proximity Environment sections of the Screen Industry COVID-19 Protocols.
While Auckland remains in a higher COVID level to the rest of the country, essential workers traveling out of the Auckland region will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test from the last week. Note: Only news and media outlets are classified as essential work, so for most of Auckland screen workers regional travel is not allowed until Auckland is in Level 2.
As per the updated Government guidance – some recommended guidelines are now mandatory or should be applied in all circumstances, namely:
Check-In/Contact Tracing – while everyone seemed to be doing well on this before, it is now mandatory in all circumstances for all sites, so ensure this is very closely adhered to.
Risk Minimisation – e.g. Hygiene Procedures, Airflow, Contact Minimisation. Look to assess your pre-production, shooting (when allowed), and post production, around how you can increase hygiene and minimise contact. From wearing PPE, to limiting numbers and increasing airflow. These are all our tools to help minimise the risk of exposure and spread.
Testing/Vaccinations/Privacy & Health Concerns – our revision is also likely to contain further guidance in this area. Until clarification is provided, please follow current MBIE guidance and ensure that human rights and privacy rights are respected at all times.
Registration with ScreenSafe – please also ensure every production continues to register with ScreenSafe –
Any specific queries or concerns, please reach out to ScreenSafe at firstname.lastname@example.org or your industry organisation.
Last updated on 7 September 2021
A significant gap in the industry has been identified when concerned with “Virtual Production Capabilities” in New Zealand. Most training institutes and programs only focus on using game engine technologies for teaching game development.
In contrast, the film and media industry only focus on the traditional Camera, Scriptwriting, Lights, Acting and Art Departments, which has created a void for the emerging field of Virtual production and the talent who understands the complexities of bridging the gap between traditional storytelling mediums and gamification.
As a think tank training program, Virtual Production Dojo aims to fill this void by offering hands-on training in Virtual Production and Gamification, and more significantly, supporting the ethnic communities in New Zealand and globally.
The program aims to add resilience and confidence in the next generation of graduates and those ready for a career change, bringing a more resilient and curious talent pool into the market prepared for the coming age of virtual production, animation, gamification, and mixed entertaining experiences by building Virtual Production Capabilities and talent pool and engaging Ethnic Communities and provide better economic growth opportunities.
For anyone who may be considering to upskill in the emerging field of Virtual Production they are currently accepting enrolments for their pilot program starting in September 2021.
More information about Virtual Production Dojo and the Training Program can be found here: https://virtualproductiondojo.com/
WELLINGTON - Friday 13th August
AUCKLAND - Friday 27th August
The ScreenSafe/SWAG Screen Industry Professional Respect Training Project – is back up and running for 2021.
The ScreenSafe/SWAG Professional Respect Training Project was developed to support WORKSAFE's health & safety guidelines around harassment.
The course will address predominately sexual harassment and also includes bullying, harassment, definitions, disclosures, and respectful behaviours in the workplace. Be a part of this screen sector culture change and help make the sector a safe environment for everyone.
The initiative designed and implemented by ScreenSafe and SWAG, and with the financial support from NZ Film Commission, NZ on Air and Te Māngai Pāho.
ScreenSafe and SWAG encourage everyone in a position of responsibility to upskill accordingly.
To secure your seat, please email the details below to email@example.com
Date and town of workshop:
Company (if relevant):
Preferred role title:
Numbers for each workshop are limited to 24, so book your space now.
Time: 8.45am arrival for a 9am start – 5pm
Note: This workshop focuses on sexual harassment prevention within the Screen Industry. If you would like to talk with someone about the content of the training and the safety of participants during the workshop, please contact Kelly Lucas at ScreenSafe (firstname.lastname@example.org ) or our independent Sexual Harm Prevention Specialist and Workshop Facilitator Rachel Harrison (email@example.com).
Jaron Presant ACS, international cinematographer from L.A.
In June Christchurch was fortunate to have Jaron Presant ASC share a conversation around XY Chromaticity and it’s uses. After being in NZ for nine months, Presant found a gap in his schedule to hold a conversation with some local cinematographers.
After production on the Apple TV+ production Mr Corman, Los Angeles was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Presant found himself relocating, along with production, to New Zealand.
An attempt to restart production in LA under COVID-19 protocols proved too costly and the decision was made to shift the production to New Zealand, with Wellington doubling as San Francisco. “It was a difficult task to say the least, but that process I think made us really focus in on what aspects of the environment were critical to the story and in what way.” Says Presant, “I think the show benefited a great deal from the shift even beyond the obvious ease of process.” From there Presant jumped from Mr Corman into another international Amazon production, Don’t Make Me Go.
And it’s not just the ease of process that has won him over. Presant says that the crews here have been so creatively engaged and unbelievable to work with. “It’s been an absolute pleasure and at the end of long days I looked around to see a group of faces, all of which I would gladly go spend an evening with.”
Local cinematographer Bevan Crothers was second unit DP on the production and suggested that while the shoot was fast paced at times it gave a real insight into the "vision, experiences and processes of Jaron Presant ASC."
Bevan Crothers, Cinematographer and NZCS committee member
“I feel like that’s the goal of any group one puts together, that you can go through massively stressful scenarios together and still want to hang out.” Says Presant. The New Zealand scenery was not lost on Presant, calling it ‘unbelievably inspiring’ during his two week break and extensive scout. “I spent my down time seeing the West Coast of the North Island and a large journey around the South Island. Across the board New Zealand is so stunning, and also so varied.”
While in New Zealand, Presant had an opportunity in his schedule to share some of his extensive knowledge with the local Christchurch cinematography community. New NZCS member Simon Waterhouse had nothing but praise for the evening describing the knowledge shared as a real treat. “I'm a new member, so this was my first NZCS event - being in Christchurch we don't get much exposure to the wider industry so it was lovely to meet some NZCS regulars.”
Attendees gather at the venue foyer, with an opportunity to network and socialise.
The topic of the night, lighting using XY Chromaticity coordinates, which Presant described as the most exciting part of the cinematography of today. “With new technology comes new forms of control. Running lights in xy modes, where the color is determined by a chromaticity coordinate on the CIE Yxy graph, allows us to color match instantly and accurately like we have never done before.
Waterhouse says of his biggest takeaway, “I found it really enlightening seeing the industry shift towards RGB sources and the supporting technology. I'm definitely keen to explore shifting my lighting workflow towards XY controllable sources.”
Jaron Presant ACS
While the excitement of colour and light control was a hot topic, it was met with the broader context of pipeline control. “With all new technology, our job is being split farther across the entire production process, spreading forward into prep with pre-visualization and virtual production and farther into post with all the nuanced color correction and vfx we can do. It’s still our job to control the image and to me, our job is to follow that image from conception through presentation.” He says developing a deep understanding of how a camera responds to light and the corrections planned for before final display is the key to allow a cinematographer to be artistic with confidence.
The event was extremely well received, with Bree Loverich of Screen CanterburyNZ in attendance, saying the evening was a “fantastic opportunity to learn more about the craft from such an internationally accomplished DOP, but also a great chance to network and be part of the growing screen community in Christchurch.”
Perpetual learning is something Presant is especially passionate about. “I think that the process of learning is integral to the art of cinematography. Every job I’m trying to test something new, try something we haven’t done before. We have to keep learning, keep pressing forward into new areas, and part of that process is passing on what we learn to others. I make it a point of teaching when I am not working, whether through universities, film schools, film festivals or mentorships. My hope is that those that I teach go and learn on their own and then come back and teach me something. That’s the goal - that we all move forward learning together.”
With a background as an artist in technical design and visual content creation since 2011, Mads is a Māori filmmaker and emerging cinematographer based out of Christchurch.
With strong family ties to both Ngāi Tahu and the Cook Islands, Mads grew up on the road with his mum and brother where he developed a love for film, photography and art. After binging heaps of anime and smashing a degree in 2014, he bootstrapped a startup with two long time friends and Māui Studios was born.
Today Māui operates as a creative powerhouse, where he runs a tight knit film production team as creative director. They deliver end to end content solutions in the realm of digital creation, talent discovery and tech exploration so they can give back to the communities and organisations that helped raise them.
Mads has been blessed with opportunities to travel through film as a DP on a range of different productions; leading an expedition of Ngāi Tahu youth across Silicon Valley, spontaneous haka on the great wall of China, eating fire ramen in Japan, surviving twenty days across the pacific ocean aboard celestial waka Fa’afaite in the Land of Voyagers and shooting 70+ short stories of indigenous social entrepreneurship in the whānau ora space for Te Waipounamu.
With aspirations to write and direct his own screenplays and business ambitions to facilitate more productions being led in the South Island, Mads and the team at Māui are launching a Virtual Production Studio right now. They have their LED volume in place and are refining acoustics that will be ready for action any second! All of which are means to provide innovative and accessible solutions for local and international filmmakers seeking space to shoot their own productions.
The NZCS recently held a one-day intensive workshop aimed at providing an overview of the Assistant Camera role for those hoping to move from camera trainee to 2nd AC role, or 2nd AC to 1st AC.
The course was tutored by 1st Assistant Cameraman Michael Paletta, who has worked extensively in the US and NZ. Michael designed the type of course he wished had been available when he was first starting out. The emphasis was on attitude, professional approach and philosophy of the job, rather than an overly technical session (which would take much longer than a day!)
Because numbers were limited to a manageable twelve places (to give everyone a chance to participate in the practical exercises) applicants were chosen who the NZCS felt had the right level of previous experience, and a strong desire to make this a serious career path.
Feedback was very positive from the course and because demand was so high, another course is planned for late August, when Michael finishes a current run of full-time work.
Here is a sample of the feedback from several participants:
“The course was definitely what I expected and super helpful in highlighting the kind of attitude, behaviours and set etiquette needed to get work in this field. I think It was helpful to my career moving forward as it highlighted the differentiation of roles, from trainee to 1st AC, and it also gave a wide overarching insight onto all the different factors required when you’re starting out such as: cold calling, rental house liaison, communication skills and being personable."
“It was really nice hearing Michael stressing the importance of balancing your work and personal life. I feel like many people in the industry have quite a fanatical work ethic that makes them vulnerable to getting burnt out. It was really refreshing to hear someone like him not say something along the lines of 'you have to tough it out to make it in the industry'.”
The course was sponsored by Screen Auckland with venue provided by Unitec Screen Arts. Camera gear was supplied by Imagezone and Topic Rentals. DP’s Will Prosor, Kirk Pflaum and Murray Milne also supplied gear and operated cameras, and Esther Mitchell explained the 2nd AC role.
Paul was one of those people who formed the backbone of the Kiwi screen industry. He always seemed to be there with a calmness, good humour, and a willingness to help that meant a lot to many people.
At NZCS, Paul was an active committee member, served as a Vice President, and often contributed his gear and facilities with humble generosity. He was a very experienced cinematographer and, more than that, he was our friend.
Paul was very proud of how he built up his Nutshell camera rental business. He was very generous with his time and advice, so he helped encourage many young film makers. Paul loved a good yarn over a beer or whiskey, so any visit to Nutshell could take a lot longer than intended!
His long-serving membership to the NZCS, the Screen Industry Guild and WIFT, demonstrate his great involvement and commitment to our screen community.
He will be greatly missed and we send our heartfelt condolences and love to his family and to those closest to him.
A celebration of Paul's life will be held on Thursday 1 April (tomorrow) at 12 noon, Okahu, 18 Tamaki Drive. For those who can not attend in person, here is a link to the live stream. Instead of flowers, donations would be appreciated to melanoma.org.nz/donate
Kua hinga te tōtara o Te Waonui a Tāne
(the tōtara in the great forest of Tāne has fallen)
Ariel Camera LimitedCR Kennedy NZ Ltd
Māui Virtual Production Ltd
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