Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Fishy Tales" Online Now

Hi all,
Wanaka Film Trust's first official production, "Fishy Tales" has finally been uploaded to Short Film Otago's Youtube Channel. (I would suggest they get themselves a Vimeo channel to avail of the longer video lengths allowed so as not to have to split them up.)
Check out the SFO website for details on funding for your short film .Be warned - closing date for this years applications is 9th August.


Part 1.

Part 2.

Is this a picture of Brad Pitt at Lake Wanaka?

Someone who want's to remain anonymous has emailed me this pic.
What do you think?
Makes sense that if he was in the South Island , he would come to Wanaka , no?
Anyhow - If this is you Brad, Wanaka Film Trust welcomes you - enjoy yourself.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Yes Men Fix The World — Free,Legal,Peer-to-Peer Edition of this awesome film.

I just finished watching this film and I loved it.
The Yes Men have made this film available to legally download via Peer-to-peer torrents and are encouraging viewers to share it .
You will need a BitTorrent client in order to download this film.
If you don't know what a BitTorrent client is , or how to use one - Click Here and follow the instructions , or ask a youngster.There are other ways of viewing though too - for more info click here



"Fiendishly amusing... Out-Borats Sacha Baron Cohen at his most confrontational."—Washington Post
"This is the year's top documentary film." — New Scientist
"We think it is a serious matter when people willingly misrepresent themselves." — Exxon


VODO's sixth release is the special Peer-To-Peer Edition of the multi-award-winning The Yes Men Fix The World. This edition, made exclusively for VODO, includes exclusive controversial footage of the Yes Men impersonating the United States Chamber of Commerce. The Yes Men are being sued over this action, and see P2P as the best and only way this material will get seen. They're calling for it to be copied as far and wide as possible.

The Yes Men are a culture jamming activist-duo raising awareness around social problems caused by corporations. Operating under the mission statement of telling the truth and exposing lies, they practice a concept they call "identity correction", in which they impersonate entities that they dislike -- some would call it social engineering on a grand scale! From their offices in Milwaukee, they create and maintain fake websites similar to ones they intend to spoof, which have successfully lead to numerous interview, conference, and TV talk show invitations. These occasions are then used to expose, through parody and surreal humour, the dark motivations of our multinational world.

THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD is a screwball true story about two gonzo political activists who, posing as top executives of giant corporations, lie their way into big business conferences and pull off the world's most outrageous pranks.

"We have been impersonating people in power in to make political points for over a decade. The Yes Men Fix the World is our second feature film. It's won a bucket of awards and accolades, but we're still broke. We are hoping that people who share it will donate some money so that we can do even more outrageous actions.

How outrageous? Outrageous enough to get us sued! Not long ago The US Chamber of Commerce took us to court for impersonating them. That is why on this special p2p version of the Yes Men Fix the World, we have included an exclusive video that the US Chamber of Commerce does not want you to see. You can only see this surprising film on the exclusive VODO p2p release.

One final note: making films takes lots of hard work. And money. We busted our ass to make this film and still owe our friends barrels of cash they loaned us. By supporting us and joining the Yes Men Labs, you not only get a membership card and an entry into the prize draw, you also help us to pay all those people back and fund future projects. We're sharing by P2P because we made this film to be watched, and with your help we'll able carry on with what we love doing."

"Great fun! It takes some nerve, not to mention diabolical intelligence... to pull off the elaborate pranks devised by the Yes Men." — New York Times

Documentary, 2010, 95 mins

Saturday, July 24, 2010

0000000111111 WOW

Wanaka filmmaker, Tim Pierce of Zeros & Ones  TV series documenting the lives of professional free skiers Jossi and Byron Wells - Winter of Wells, is screening on the worlds biggest action sports websites, Air New Zealands international flights, and FuelTV.
Nice work guys.

Check out the teaser below and see more episodes HERE

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reel Dreams in the press.

(Originally Published on Otago Daily Times Online News (
Making movie dreams come true
By Marjorie Cook

Marjorie Cook finds a Reel recipe for film success in Wanaka.
Into the great migrant melting pot that is Wanaka put one South African adventurer, one American comedian, combine with creative New Zealanders and sprinkle liberally with enthusiasm.

Then watch the goggle-box to see Reel Dreams turn to porridge and rise to the occasion, all at the same time.

Reel Dreams is a film-production company launched this month by director Topher Straus and producer Darren Simmonds, both 35-year-old entrepreneurs who settled in Wanaka in 2007.

They met through the Wanaka Film Trust and decided to form a stand-alone company specialising in high-end television commercials.
Reel Dreams now has a modest portfolio of three completed products.

Their second project, an advertisement for Harraways Oats, is screening nationally and they have a seemingly bottomless well of other projects waiting on story-boards.

The pair got their start because they went out on a limb last year and made a speculative promotion for Nike, using numerous local people to film and star in a 45-second advertisement set on Roys Peak.

"It achieved its goal because it got us Harraways. It showcased what we could do.

"And now we have [another client] Dream Doors," Mr Simmonds said recently.

But who are these people so keen to put Wanaka's talents on the tube?

Topher Straus probably needs little introduction in his home town of Denver, Colorado, where he became immersed in the entertainment world at the age of 14.

He was employed by Tribune Broadcasting and by the time he was 18, the junior comedian had hosted a cartoon club programme, numerous other television specials, appeared in more than 350 commercials and won an outstanding public service campaign Emmy for his work.

Mr Straus graduated with a bachelor of fine arts (film art) degree from Syracuse University, in New York, in 1997.

He moved to Los Angeles, where he worked for a year as an assistant to the late film-maker Robert Altman (M. A. S. H., Tanner '88, The Player, Gosfield Park).

Working as assistant to the prolific Altman was "a dream come true".

Moments that spring to mind include waiting in a golf cart while Altman smoked a joint or taking a call from actor Robert Downey jun while the actor was in jail.

"It was great, really enjoyable. He [Altman] was a really nice person," Mr Straus said.

"He would say things like 'Topher, take this script to Lily Tomlin. While you are there, pick me up some oatmeal with real maple syrup.'

"I would be asked to research anything and everything. I was there for one year."

Then he took a similar job for a while with Academy Award-winning director Curtis Hanson (The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, LA Confidential), and another telephone encounter with another actor - this time Russell Crowe, who cursed at Mr Straus when he asked for his name.

Mr Straus formed his first television production company at university and from 1995 began directing films. (See details above)

He and his wife Emelie, a Swiss New Zealander, decided to move to New Zealand in 2007 because they couldn't think of a better place to escape the busy-ness of Sunset Boulevard, six-lane highways, and Los Angeles' night-time noises of helicopters, sirens and gunshots.

They are expecting their first child next month.

Mr Straus says he has always felt compelled to perform.

"It's in my blood. My grandmother was a radio star, my grandfather and father were advertising executives ...

"I am glad I love doing it," he said.

Mr Straus now teaches improvisation workshops with Kahu Youth and in Queenstown.

Mr Simmonds has had a varied and colourful career in the outdoors, with scuba diving, skiing and climbing among his loves.

Growing up in South Africa and educated at an all-boys' school, the done thing was to get compulsory service over and done with soon after leaving school, but Mr Simmonds had other ideas.

"I didn't want to enlist in the army and thought, right, I am going to escape the country.

"A year after I left school it all changed anyway.

"I was interested in diving and my mother was trying to convince me to join the navy.

"But I decided to travel. I liked the idea of backpacking around Europe.

"At the time, a lot of people were taking money out of the country. They would pay people to take it out.

"So this guy paid for my trip to London," Mr Simmonds said.

Four years and 40 countries later, Mr Simmonds arrived in Queenstown, where he skied by day and worked as a magician at night.

Then he moved to Wanaka, where he had enrolled in an outdoor education course, met his future wife Vanessa, and worked as a researcher for a farm management company.

Visual arts had always been part of his life - his New Zealander father and Australian mother owned a photographic business in Johannesburg - so he rekindled his interest in film and photography and now works as a videographer. (See fact box for details)

He also founded the Wanaka Film Trust and four trust projects have won small grants from Short Film Trust of Otago and screened in Dunedin and at other festivals.

Mr Simmonds has participated in 24-hour film-making competitions*, with this year's effort (in the sex education genre) making it to the finals*.
*(that should read 48hrs and City Finals - Admin)

So what is their secret to short-story-telling?

"I'm the Yin. He's the Yang ... Darren is funny but he doesn't know it," Mr Straus said.

Mr Simmonds sees his role as keeping his creative partner focused on the client's vision.

"The more we work together, the more we understand each other," Mr Simmonds said.

Mr Straus says the amount of work in telling a story in 15 to 60 seconds is "amazing".

Several days' filming, for which camera operators and actors are employed, might be followed by several weeks in post-production.

More weeks can be spent in pre-production, requiring the input of graphic artists.

And there's also the all-important client liaison.

The art of making television commercials is a finely balanced one and relies on good communication, they say.

Even just 15 seconds is enough time for the audience to find out what they are being sold, if done correctly.

A client's expectation of an advertisement also has to be dealt with on the level.

"They see a great ad and don't realise that would cost them $1 million," Mr Straus said.

For example, the Nike spec advertisement was designed to look like a $250,000 ad "but we did it for about 1% of that".

The pair accept a portfolio of three ads - one spec, one screening and one about to screen - is very modest, compared to the number of ads screening on television on a daily basis.

Like many migrants to Wanaka, they have discovered a patchwork career has been a necessity; work puts food on the table.

But they emphasise they haven't been in the production business very long.

While Mr Straus will continue to teach improvisation and Mr Simmonds will continue to film weddings, Reel Dreams is a full-time commitment.

And they are committed to using Wanaka's pool of talent in making their dreams come true.

The facts
Topher Straus
- Directs narrative and documentary films
- Films have screened at 10 international film festivals
- Directorial debut: Extra: In The Background of A Dream - screened 2002 Santa Monica International Film Festival and the 2002 Rome Independent Film Festival.
- Has now secured worldwide distribution.
- Remi Bronze Award: The Attackman - awarded at the 2007 Houston Worldfest

Darren Simmonds
- Producer several short films
- Founded Wanaka Film Trust
- Producer: Fishy Tales (2009, funding assistance from Short Film Otago)
- Director: snow sports documentary on Olympic gold medallist snowboarder Kelly Clark of the US (in progress)

More information
- Reel Dreams
- Wanaka Film Trust
- Short Film Otago

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Life In A Day

Life In A Day is a historic global experiment to create the world's largest user-generated feature film: a documentary, shot in a single day, by you. On July 24, you have 24 hours to capture a glimpse of your life on camera. The most compelling and distinctive footage will be edited into an experimental documentary film, executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald.

For more information, visit A Life In A Day

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ant Timpson writes an open letter to New Zealand Film Commission

An Open Letter to the Hon Chris Finlayson, MP, Minister For Arts, Culture & Heritage and Graeme Mason CEO, New Zealand Film Commission

Dear Messrs Finlayson and Mason,

They say the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
Now I do understand that you both are in the midst of processing the eighty-seven page review of the New Zealand Film Commission by Sir Peter Jackson and David Court and that you may be pressed for time to peruse any additional material relating to the review.
So let me keep this brief and to get right to the point.
The indepth Review covered many areas for potential improvement to the New Zealand film landscape and featured many common sense applicable solutions to existing problems. However one theme that appeared to pop up throughout the review was the need to find and nurture the next generation of filmmaking talent. 
The review makes special mention of the annual V48HOURS event, cutting directly to the heart of the matter with;
“The NZFC should already have an idea about who the exciting young film makers are – who’s winning the film competitions, who submitted the most imaginative films to ‘48 Hours’”
Before that fully sinks in, the review follows up with this slamdunk;
“The NZFC could have a stronger role in nationwide film contests like the ‘48 hours’ competition.”
Which in a somewhat selfish analysis could mean that the event (self-described as a nationwide talent incubator) needs to be better supported. The event continues to grow each year yet unfortunately struggles to survive on the goodwill of sponsors (all the lovely logos below) and the competitors themselves. The event has grown exponentially for eight years since it started in 2003 with just 44 teams and one cinema. This year over ten thousand people participated and flocked into cinemas nationwide, while others watched the network television series and finally even more viewed films online.
At its core, the V48HOURS answers all the Parliamentary functions required of the NZFC which are, ‘to encourage and also to participate and assist in the making, promotion, distribution and exhibition of films’. – something the V48HOURS does very well in cinemas, TV, online and DVD to large NZ audiences every year.
At present it appears the NZFC is hamstrung by existing funding guidelines as the V48HOURS falls under the “Festivals & Awards Programme’, which means it’s seen on par with the Wellington Fringe Film Festival. No offense to the Fringe but the two organisations are on completely different playing fields in terms of what they achieve in the industry.
Those guidline restrictions make it appear that the NZFC are failing to support the infrastructure and success that the V48HOURS has built over 8 years.
More than $1,000,000 is spent on Industry Support alone by the NZFC each year. The V48HOURS which the Review has stated is the entity where future talent is being discovered, receives $0.00 from NZFC Industry Support funding.
The NZFC Statement of Intent says one of its primary goals looking forward was to “Build a Talent Pathway in 08/09″ and directed nearly $5,000,000 towards this ‘Pathway’. Surprisingly the event that inspired more New Zealanders to create film in that period than any other entity received only $5000 operational support. Which leads one to ask if the allocated monies (non production) that are already set aside for establishing the next generation of filmmakers are actually being utilised in the most forward-thinking way.
But then again, I would say that wouldn’t I?


Director V48HOURS.

Thursday, July 1, 2010