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12:16 NZ On Air is funding more ambitious productions

Amie Mills

Amie Mills Photo: supplied

NZ On Air has been one of the distributors of the massive, post-Covid-19 government spending, first providing the industry a lifeline when lockdowns halted many TV productions, and now getting behind a wide range of new shows.

Just days ago applications opened for the 2 million dollar Premium Development Fund - Ara ki Te Puna Kairangi - offering seed funding grants of up to $120,000 towards ambitious productions with significant international appeal.

Over the past few weeks NZ On Air has also announced successful applications for a new Māori supernatural anthology series, five projects promoting te reo Māori and several Pan-Asian documentaries.

But for every successful application, others miss out.  The public funding agency received many applications across its Scripted, Factual, Platforms and Industry Development streams, seeking up over $20m in funding.  It approved half of the applications, for nearer $6 million.  

Lynn Freeman talks with Amie Mills, NZ on Air's Head of Funding.


12:32  Production designer Ra Vincent

It's great when people in the movie industry get a bit of credit where credit's due.  All too often the spotlight only shines on the so-called star performers - directors, writers, producers and of course actors.
But the Taikas and Sir Peters of the business are standing on the shoulders of some pretty giant talents, and they know it.   This week saw awards going to three of them. 

Te Apounamu Māori Excellence awards went to production company manager Puti Puti Rā Simich-Pene and to independent producer Julian Arahanga, while the biggest award went to two-times Oscar nominee, superstar production designer, Ra Vincent.  

Ra's been part of the movie industry for years, but movies have always been in his blood.  His father in law is another production designer - Oscar winner and five times nominee Dan Hennah.  
His loyal supporters are Sir Peter Jackson - Ra was set decorator on all three Hobbit films - and Taika Waititi - Ra was production designer on Thor and Jo Jo Rabbit not to mention providing the production design of What we do in the Shadows and Wellington Paranormal.  
Simon Morris talks to Ra Vincent in Los Angeles.


12:45 40 years of the Film Archive

On the first of April, the New Zealand Film Archive - now part of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision - celebrates 40 years of saving and restoring the nation's screen history, from feature films to home videos.

The late Jonathan Dennis was a leading light in setting up the archive in 1981, at a time when a huge chunk of our early film material had been destroyed or lost.

It was a race against time then, as it is now, to save early nitrate films that are have been in peoples' homes for years, not always in perfect storage conditions.

Lynn Freeman speaks to film enthusiast and long time staff member Sarah Davy about the Archive's plans for the anniversary and also about its own history.


1:10 At The Movies

This week, Simon Morris reviews Fanny Lye Deliver'd, The Dissident and French Exit.


1:34  The survival of The Regent, Te Awamutu

It's just been announced that Australian independent cinema operators can look forward to getting a share of a new $20m grants package from the Morrison government.  Meanwhile their counterparts in New Zealand continue to struggle post lockdown, with fewer and smaller new movies to show. 

One of those Kiwi operators is Allan Webb whose Regent Cinema in Te Awamutu has just celebrated its 89th birthday. He's run it since 1974 but says he's now hoping  the community will take it over as a trust.  Right now it's running on loans and his mortgage.

Even before Covid-19, Allan was subsidising each patron at about $2 per admission.

Since the lockdown things have got even tougher, and now there's a Givealittle page to help the cinema through these tough times.

Lynn Freeman asks Alan Webb about the Regent's history:

2:06 The Laugh Track - Itay Ben-Dom

Itay Ben-Dom

Itay Ben-Dom Photo: supplied

It may come as a surprise to many people, but right now it's a comedy jungle out there.  Comedians from all over the place have landed here, have sometimes been stranded here, and come in all shapes, sizes and attitudes to red roses.
Itay Ben-Dom may be known to you as one of the less likely candidates for TV's The Bachelorette, but that's just scraping the surface of his talents.  Is he a comedian/MC?  Is he an author?  Is he an electrical engineer?  Is he a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland?  Certainly all these descriptions pop up when you Google "Itay Ben-Dom"!
One thing is certain.  Itay Ben-Dom is today's guest on the Laugh Track.  His picks include Brian Regan, Nick Rado, Norm McDonald and Rory Scovell.


2:26 Filming in Otago reaches new levels

Otago's enjoying an unprecedented level of filming around the region at the moment.

A Netflix flim called The Royal Treatment about to wrap up after several weeks of filming in Dunedin and Oamaru, and TV series Under the Vines and One Lane Bridge have been filming in Central Otago and Queenstown.

But if they're to capitalise on the opportunities, and the record number of enquiries coming into Film Otago Southland, what they're going to need is more studios - and fast.   

Lynn Freeman talks to the organisation's Film Office Coordinator, Antony Deaker, who says the Neflix movie particularly has been a huge boost to the local economy, with its 135-strong crew and large cast of mainly Kiwi based actors and extras:


2:38  The English aristocrat in the Syrian desert

Patricia Donovan

Patricia Donovan Photo: supplied

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Photo: supplied

In 1853, wealthy aristocrat Jane Digby found herself crossing the Syrian desert - not only because she had a healthy sense of adventure and love for the Arabian people, but to escape scandal back in England.
Jane Digby was the granddaughter of the Earl of Leicester, and she stayed in Syria until her death in 1874.

Her colourful story is told in a new novel The Remarkable Miss Digby by Patricia Donovan, who first heard Jane's story while visiting Syria herself.

Patricia reads from the novel and talks to Lynn Freeman about this fearless character.

The Remarkable Miss Digby is published by Mary Egan Publishing.  Proceeds from the book sales go to ReliefAid, an organisation that works in conflict zones.


2:49  A trilogy of historic novels looks at colonial Aotearoa

Dr Monty Soutar

Dr Monty Soutar Photo: supplied

Three historical novels that address the impact of colonisation in Aotearoa, told from the perspective of nine generations of a Māori whanau...  That's a pretty big challenge that respected historian Dr Monty Soutar has set himself.

He's been awarded the  $100,000 Creative New Zealand Michael King Writer's Fellowship to continue his work on the trilogy called Kāwai, with Book One due for publication in October.

Dr Soutar is promising an honest appraisal of Aotearoa prior to and post European colonisation, with the trilogy starting in the 1720s up to the present day.
Lynn Freeman asks if he would have taken on this ambitious project without the years he's spent researching Māori history and talking to kaumatua:


3:08 Drama at 3 -  On the road, off the record by Stuart Hoar

A mockumentary follows the adventures of the Diabelli String Quartet on a doomed tour of the West Coast.