There are lots of good things about running a small production company – but one of the downsides is that you don’t tend to work with larger teams, which is something I do enjoy when given the opportunity.
The nature of making feature docs (and pretty well any film or TV project for that matter) is that it relies on a lot of unpaid work, particularly in development. I tend to put my head down and get on with it, often by picking up the camera and shooting something I feel strongly about. Going solo gives you the flexibility to explore stories and options but does mean that you are a lone wolf at times.
What alleviates that isolation is that my freelance shooting allows me to work with other directors and producers, and I also have a great network of ‘film friends’ that I can talk to when I get in to new territory and want to seek advice. This industry is generally very supportive of anyone seeking advice.
We used to have annual awards and they were always a great get together, to have a few drinks and celebrate each other’s work. It’s so important to the well-being of our industry to acknowledge and pay tribute to work we do – so good on the NZCS for initiating their awards, and to Ant Timpson and Hugh Sundae for the Film Awards – which have just been announced as I write.
I’m sure awards add some value to your overall standing in the industry, but the phone doesn’t ring because you win an award, it rings because you did a great job and were pleasant to work with.
What I value most about industry awards is that they are given by your peers. I have huge respect for the talent in this country. When I see great work it reminds me that I’m part of an exceptionally hard-working and creative industry, it makes me aspire to that level and keeps me keen. I feel grateful to have found a career that after 25 years I still love to be involved with (most of the time).
I’ve very been doing a lot of shooting for other people (which I love), settling into life up north, getting our baby (The Art of Recovery) out into the world, and I’m sure it won’t be long until the urge to make another feature to surfaces.
I’ve learned to be very selective, because I know the huge effort a feature requires. It will take years to make and put me through the ringer many times. It is a really challenging yet rewarding thing to do and if executed properly will be a stepping stone in my career, and hopefully not a sinker!
I will have to really want to tell that story, but I know it’s only a matter of time before I will pick up the camera.
Keith is the editor of SCREENZ, and the co-creator and founding editor of CREWED.