Building KAHA

Bailey Mackey and Cliff Curtis at the Big Screen Symposium

Bailey Mackey and Cliff Curtis at the Big Screen Symposium

Cliff Curtis also spoke at the launch, he and Mackey sharing the story of how Mackey had been dropped as an actor from a short film when Curtis became available. “And the rest is history,” said Mackey.

“Thanks for my career,” joked Curtis, who had done his In Conversation session at the Big Screen Symposium sporting a KAHA tee-shirt.

Bailey’s produced shows including Atamira, Beneath the Maori Moon, The GC, Hip Hop High and Kapa Haka Kids as well as Maori Television’s ANZAC Day coverage. “I’ve been selling content for 17 years. I understand the process,” Bailey said. Earlier this year FremantleMedia took worldwide rights to Mackey’s currently-airing Sidewalk Karaoke.


“It’s a very different process selling software,” Mackey added. Sell it he does though, and KAHA is live and in use here and overseas, including by a multi-national TV production company.

Mackey started down the road to build KAHA in early 2015. Beginning with just a couple of people, the team has now grown to seven people and had a working version of the software early this year. Having a working production company has been a great advantage along the way, Mackey explained, as they’ve been able to use the software in a realworld setting, test and validate it as it’s gone through various iterations.

“It’s not all been champagne and strawberries,” Mackey told the audience at the launch event. “You win or you learn – and some days it feels like there’s a lot of learning.”

There have also been wins as Mackey keeps moving KAHA forward. Created to be scalable from the get-go, capable of handling everything from modest shoots to large-scale productions and multiple simultaneous productions, as larger production houses and broadcasters might need.


While he still enjoys producing content, Mackey’s objective about it. “Margins are going down,” he acknowledged. “It’s a tight market. There are twice as many buyers at MIP as there were 10 years ago, but there are a lot more platforms and the overall spend on content isn’t changing much. Money has to go further. If you can create efficiencies, you win.”

One major win Mackey has achieved is retaining ownership of the IP, developing KAHA with funds from Pango’s production work and without bringing in investors.


Written by Keith Barclay

Keith is the editor of SCREENZ, and the co-creator and founding editor of CREWED.


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