A Year Of It

DoP Ryan Alexander Lloyd & Yamin TunPhoto: Christian Espinoza

DoP Ryan Alexander Lloyd & Yamin Tun
Photo: Christian Espinoza

Recently named New Filmmaker of the Year, one of three award winners at SPADA, Yamin Tun is wrapping a year that’s seen plenty of acknowledgement from several organisations.

Tun certainly isn’t an overnight success, but a lot of things have come together for her during 2016.

Her year got off to a good start in February at Tropfest when The Dream of the Driver took the runner-up slot. At the time, it seemed that the 2016 edition of Tropfest might be the last in NZ, which – while not ideal for the organisers – was at least generating some extra attention on the event and its participants.

In early April Script to Screen named Tun one of eight filmmakers selected for its FilmUp programme, along with others including fellow writer-directors Joe Lonie ()Show Me Shorts winner Honk If You’re Horny), Max Currie (Everything We Loved) and Tim Van Dammen (Romeo & Juliet: A Love Song).

Tun credits Script to Screen’s Esther Cahill-Chiaroni as one of the key people who’ve helped Tun develop. She says the support she’s received from Script to Screen has been invaluable. “It’s great to have someone believe in you,” she says, “especially when you’re early in your career and don’t yet have the experience or skill to know if what you’ve got is any good.”

Coincidentally, it was Cahill-Chiaroni who introduced this writer to Tun early this year at a Script to Screen Writers Room event, saying then that Tun was someone to watch, who had huge potential. That happened before Tun’s short Wait was announced as one of three NZ shorts for this year’s Sydney Film Festival. James Cunningham’s Accidents Blunders and Calamities, which took the directing gong at Show Me Shorts 2015, was one of the others.

In June Tun was in Sydney to attend the Festival, something of a new experience for her and one that was unforgettable, exciting and a little sobering. The festival is a feast of great films and filmmakers, with festival staff working around the clock to create a fantastic experience for all. While there are parties and validation and plenty to like about being the guest of an international film festival, the opportunities to meet other filmmakers for one, there’s also the reality of meeting other filmmakers.

Tun found meeting established filmmakers – including the team there with Mahana – a wonderfully positive experience. Chatting with other emerging filmmakers, even those from countries with strong cultural support of arthouse film, Tun found that they were almost all in similar circumstances – struggling to find money, unsure of the best way to advance some projects and, to some extent, fighting uphill battles on every project, despite the validation some had already received in their careers.

Wait: Joyena SunPhoto: Christian Espinoza

Wait: Joyena Sun
Photo: Christian Espinoza

As one of the participants in FilmUp, Tun wasn’t lacking support, but was still keen on having more positive contact with other filmmakers.

“Along with knowing that any Script to Screen programme is bound to be excellent, I applied for FilmUp because I wanted to be part of an environment of mutual support, and as a writer-director, you can feel very alone at the early stages of developing your projects. You can end up spending the whole day in your pyjamas, writing from bed, shocking your neighbours and even your cat with how feral you’ve become.

“It’s important to find fellowship in the journey to what eventually becomes one of the most collaborative experiences of life,” she says. Fellowship, one assumes, of shared understanding and experiences with other emerging filmmakers.

She smiles and admits, “First world problems.”