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2024 Programme

Download a printable version of the programme here.
    8:00AM - 9:00AM | Registration Open

    Ka Tuwhera ngā Rēhitatanga
    ROOM: Victory Convention Centre

    Collect your lanyards from the information desk between 8.00 and 8:55am.

    9:00AM – 10:10AM | PŌWHIRI followed by Morning Tea

    ROOM: Auditorium
    10:10am – 10:20AM | Welcome from MC Verity Johnson

    Mihi Whakatau a te Kaiwhakataki Verity Johnson
    ROOM: Auditorium
    10:20am - 11:20am | Lulu Wang In Conversation with Shuchi Kothari

    Lulu Wang i roto i te korerorero me Shuchi Kothari
    ROOM: Auditorium
    SPEAKERS: Lulu Wang
    MODERATOR: Shuchi Kothari
    PRESENTED BY: Images & Sound

    Lulu Wang is a writer and director of both feature films and series drama, and also showrunner on her most recent work Expats. We are delighted to welcome Lulu to New Zealand for the Big Screen Symposium 2024. Expats is fast becoming one of the most highly rated shows of the year. The world premier was held at Toronto International Film Festival and indicated Lulu’s unconventional approach. Rather than share the first episode of the series she chose to screen the 96-minute penultimate episode “Central,” which follows two Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong during the 2014 political protest, as a typhoon sweeps the city. Lulu will be in conversation with Shuchi Kothari. They will talk about Lulu’s journey from writing and directing feature film The Farewell, which draws on a personal story, to her adaptation of the book The Expatriates into a six-episode series drama running across multiple timelines, where she is the sole director.


    11:30am - 12:30pm | Making Horror - Talk To Me

    Danny Philippou is speaking via video link
    ROOM: Auditorium
    SPEAKERS: Danny Philippou

    Horror film Talk To Me is a break out success, premiering at Sundance 2023 which prompted a bidding war for the distribution rights. It has gone on to achieve gross international sales of more than US$ 92 million and is A24’s second highest grossing film. Danny Philippou and twin brother Michael, self described as overstimulated, are the Youtubers who wrote and directed this feature film. Talk To Me has won many awards including Best Film, Best Lead Actress, Best Screen Play, Best Editing and Best Direction at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, and Best Horror Film from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, USA. Not only is it a stand-out success for Danny and Michael, but it is also a significant achievement for independent film production companies Causeway Films and A24, and for Talk To Me’s star Sophie Wilde who is now attached to the US live-action movie adaptation of Video Game Watch Dogs. Steve Newall will talk to Danny about his approach to making this supernatural horror and his training ground making YouTube videos that attracted over 6 million subscribers prior to making Talk To Me, now screening on Netflix. Horror is a genre that continues to give us some of the most successful and exciting films. Join this session to find out how Danny and his brother did it. Danny Philippou is speaking via video link

    11:30am - 12:30pm | Music and Screen – A Beautiful Collision

    Waiata me te Mata - He Tukinga Ataahua
    ROOM: Harbour View Room
    MODERATOR: Teresa Patterson

    NZ On Air wants to encourage more New Zealand music in screen content and has recently begun funding specifically for this outcome. Head of Music Teresa Patterson hosts a conversation with experienced music supervisor Aminé Ramer and Executive Producer Philippa Rennie WBDITV using Testify as an example to show how these two creative elements can create screen magic and how the power of the right song can elevate moments on screen. This discussion will traverse topics such as forensic examination of a script, advice on the budget for music, deciding how to use what songs where, and collaborating with the director, producer and editor on song choices. Testify comes to your screens 8:30pm Monday 8 April on TVNZ2 and TVNZ+.

    11:30am - 12:30pm | Getting On The Same Page

    Te eke ki runga i te wharangi kotahi
    ROOM: The Bunker

    Delivering a coherent and moving narrative experience on screen is complex no matter the medium. Many hands, many years, and many iterations are required, with clear direction carrying the narrative through to production. Alexander Swords has developed a “one page” of six instruments taken from a range of creative processes to act as a source of truth. It holds intention, facilitates clearer communication, and helps teams hold themselves to account. During development it acts as prompts for all the important questions, and in production it helps teams understand the relationship between the myriad elements that come together for screen magic.

    12:30pm - 1:30pm | Lunch

    ROOM: Victory Convention Centre
    1:30pm - 2:30pm | New Zealand Film Commission Presentation

    Whakaaturanga a Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga
    ROOM: Auditorium
    SPEAKERS: Annie Murray

    New Zealand Film Commission CEO Annie Murray reports an exciting run of local theatrical releases and the continued success of Te Puna Kairangi Premium Funded series here and offshore. The refreshed strategic plan is being set and last year’s rebate changes are settling in. Other bright spots on the path ahead include the New Zealand industry presence at Cannes and other global markets plus the welcome return of international productions after last year’s US strikes.  The Convert and The Mountain hit cinemas in March and at least eight more films are well on the way including Bookworm, A Mistake, The Moon is Upside Down, Ka Whawhai Tonu, Tinā, Grafted, I, Object and Joika. Te Puna Kairangi Premium Fund series were embraced by audiences and critics with After The Party noted as “the best TV drama we’ve ever made”* and “a coming-of-age for New Zealand television”**, sold to UK broadcaster Channel 4. Irish co-production The Gone sold to the BBC and season 2 is in prep and Dark City: The Cleaner is capturing audience share over on Neon.   International productions are rebounding at pace with our local crews working on features with Disney, Warner Bros, Sony, 20th Century and Blumhouse. A Lionsgate series is also underway and another in pre-production.


    2:40pm - 3:40pm | AI for VFX

    AI mo VFX
    ROOM: Auditorium

    This talk discusses a brief survey of the types of machine learning commonly referred to as AI (Artificial Intelligence), and by using real-world examples, the intersections with our creative artists and how these tools form ways to augment the creative process, not replace it. The talk closes with brief discussion of open problems and a look to the future.

    2:40pm - 3:40pm | Case Study: Equity and Inclusion with Miles From Nowhere

    Akoranga Take: Tikanga me te Whakauru ki nga Maero Mai I Te Waahi
    ROOM: Harbour View Room

    NZ On Air is committed to serving the many audiences enshrined in its mandate and those representing the changing face of Aotearoa New Zealand. Achieving this requires working in partnership with creators to grasp the intricacies of delivering equity and representation in front of and behind the camera. Head of Partnerships, Raewyn Rasch introduces a case study of Miles From Nowhere, a Sky Originals show. Producers Ahmed Osman (Homegrown Pictures) and Sam Wilton (Gibson Group) will delve into their strategies for ensuring inclusive representation of the Muslim community, throughout the entire production process, from casting to callsheets to creative decisions. Find out where to watch Miles From Nowhere on our watchlist.

    2:40pm - 3:40pm | Casting: Anousha Zarkesh in conversation with Fraser Brown

    Maka: Anousha Zarkesh i te korerorero me Fraser Brown
    ROOM: The Bunker
    SPEAKERS: Anousha Zarkesh
    MODERATOR: Fraser Brown

    Establishing a great relationship with your Casting Director Hear from renowned Casting Director Anousha Zarkesh, an influential creative force in the Australian screen industry. Anousha will talk about how to cultivate a rewarding working relationship with your casting director and share her experiences casting, searching for new talent, and attaching high-profile actors. She will also cover the importance of cultural considerations and respect protocols within the casting and production process. You will learn what to consider in early development and how budgeting is linked to casting outcomes. This is especially important when high-profile actors are needed for cash flow. A master of casting puzzles, her skill, determination and experience contributed to her receiving the 2024 AACTA Award, Best Casting in Film for Shayda. This session is presented in collaboration with Actors Equity.

    3:40pm - 4:10pm | Afternoon Tea

    ROOM: Victory Convention Centre
    4:10pm - 4:20pm | NZ On Air, NZFC and Te Māngai Pāho Address

    ROOM: Auditorium
    4:20pm - 5:30pm | Keynote Addresses: Stepping into the Unknown

    Nga korero matua: Te Kai a te Waewae e Kimi
    ROOM: Auditorium
    PRESENTED BY: Te Māngai Pāho

    Keynote Addresses: Stepping Into the Unknown Closing out the first day of BSS is the 2024 keynotes. This is an exploration of our theme Stepping into the Unknown through the eyes of seven outstanding practitioners. This year you will hear from seven actors with unique stories and outlooks. Pax Assadi is an actor, comedian, writer and producer of Raised by Refugees, Lucy Lawless’s acting is known to us all, but she has recently directed her first documentary Never Look Away which was in competition at Sundance, Beulah Koale has recently appeared in several New Zealand films after a long stint on US network TV show Hawaii 5-0, Jess Hong has recently appeared in Netflix series, 3 Body Problem and New Zealand audiences will soon see her in kiwi feature film Grafted. Robyn Malcolm has enjoyed continued success as an actor and producer- most recently with critical darling After The Party, Shane Rangi is and actor,stunt and motion capture performer who’s credits include Avatar, The Lord of The Rings trilogy and Chronicles of Narnia. Cliff Curtis has acted in or co- produced many of New Zealand’s most important and iconic films including The Dark Horse, Whale Rider and Once Were Warriors. The Keynotes are a celebration of New Zealand talent and not to be missed.

    5:30pm - 7:30pm: Networking Drinks

    Ngā Inu me te Whakahoahoa
    ROOM: Parked Up - walk across the park to 203-271 Victoria Street West
    08:30AM - 09:00AM | Coffee cart open

    Ka tuwhera te kāta kawhe
    9:00AM - 10:00AM | The Rise of Viva La Dirt League

    Te Whakatikanga o Viva La Dirt League
    ROOM: Auditorium
    PRESENTED BY: Screen Auckland

    Hear how three friends Adam King, Alan Morrison and Rowan Bettjeman came together to create a ground breaking YouTube sensation. Through clever curation, an outstanding creative team and an infectious enthusiasm for their work, they have found an audience for their screen stories which has allowed for growth and expansion, without the support of traditional funding models. After 13 years working together, Viva La Dirt League’s YouTube channel has 6.27 million subscribers, and 3.4 billion views. A second YouTube channel, Viva La Dirt League D&D, has 389,000 subscribers, with 45.3 million channel views. Connecting directly with their audience they successfully crowdfunded close to 4 million NZD to establish their own studio space in Auckland which houses two permanent sets, and Auckland’s largest green screen. In this time, they have filmed and released over 1,000 sketches and videos and have several projects in development. Viva La Dirt League are a new school label who have an inspiring story to tell. This case study will explore that story, show their results of stepping into the unknown, and demonstrate the power of collaboration.

    9:00AM - 10:00AM | Case Study: Job-sharing

    Akoranga Take: Tiri Mahi
    ROOM: Harbour View Room
    SPEAKERS: Jonathon Dutton
    MODERATOR: Kelly Lucas

    This session will provide insight into how job-sharing works and key considerations for production companies, producers, and job-sharers. Jonathon Dutton from Screen Well Australia will present the findings from their Screen Australia funded initiative, Breaking Down the Barriers to Job-Sharing, which involved piloting job-sharing on a Matchbox Picture’s production in Sydney. With many people leaving the Australian screen industry, or not being able to continue working due to changing life circumstances and wellbeing concerns, job-sharing has widely been recommended as an opportunity to address this. Job-sharing has been trialed and explored all over the world, but until now, there has been little understanding as to how this might work in Australia or New Zealand. Following Jonathon’s presentation, there will be a discussion facilitated by Screen Guild’s ED Kelly Lucas, raising some answers from the room about how job-sharing could be successfully implemented in our screen industry.

    10:00AM - 10:30AM | MORNING TEA

    10:30AM - 11:30AM | Directing Masterclass with James Napier Robertson

    Ko te akomanga matua ko James Napier Robertson te kaiwhakahaere
    ROOM: Auditorium
    PRESENTED BY: Department of Post

    Over the last ten years, James Napier Robertson has emerged as one of New Zealand’s most successful filmmakers. In this 60-minute Masterclass, he will delve into the craft of directing, You will learn how to tell a story through visual choices, clarity of intention and meaning. James will use examples from his own critically acclaimed work I’m Not Harry Jensen, The Dark Horse, Whina, and soon to be released Joika.

    10:30AM - 11:30AM | Accessibility Matters

    Te Kaha Ki Te Uru atu take
    ROOM: Harbour View Room

    The Access Coordinator is an emerging below-the-line crew position that is becoming globally standardised within the screen industry to ensure access and inclusion for deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent (DDN) talent. Historically speaking, disabled people have been underrepresented in the screen industry, so how can we create a safe place on set that is accessible for all? Chelsea Bridges, Jared Flitcroft and Felicity Hamill share their mission to enhance industry standards using their skills as Access Coordinators. This new role can help everyone on set. It can also improve every stage of production, from development through to post-production, ensuring best practice is implemented that appropriately supports DDN cast and crew both in front of, and behind the camera.


    11:40AM - 12:40PM | Mana Whenua: Navigating Māori concepts in western contexts

    Mana Whenua: Te whakatere i nga ariā Māori i roto i nga horopaki o te uru
    ROOM: Auditorium

    This discussion between Piripi Curtis, Te Kohe Tuhaka,  Angela Cudd and Tihini Grant will delve into the diverse strategies employed by Māori producers in their unique productions. The conversation is designed to illuminate the nuances of engaging with mana whenua, offering guidance and insight for those unfamiliar with the process or unsure of how to even begin. It aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of respectful engagement practices, drawing from the first-hand experiences of seasoned producers to support individuals stepping into this space for the first time. Creating a greater awareness of Māori values, practices and perspectives will ease the way when it comes to filming on iwi and hapū owned land.


    ROOM: Harbour View Room

    Story needs change and there are many ways that change can happen both onscreen and in the audience. Narrative design can give us an insight “under the hood” of how the different conventions function to engage audiences around the world. In games, this is done with basic building blocks that form patterns of meta and microstructures that are then replicated, remixed and innovated upon. This talk will introduce those building blocks, as well as different patterns discovered by Alexander while researching for The Forest Paths Method of Narrative Design. He will also talk about the move towards the transcendental form as the formative pattern on projects like Totem Teller, Anytown: Garage Sale Monsters, and Sundown. Discover what film and tv writers can learn from narrative design in games.

    12:40pm - 1:40pm | LUNCH

    ROOM: Victory Convention Centre
    1:40PM - 2:40PM | Writing Methodology - Panel Discussion

    Tikanga Tuhituhi - Matapakinga Paewhiri
    ROOM: Auditorium
    MODERATOR: Marc Laureano

    Hear from three leading screenwriters as they talk about their approach and explore each other’s methods on the craft of writing for film and series. From that first idea being conceptualised right through to delivering the final draft there can be so many ways to get the words on the page in your race to the deadline. Join Michael Bennett, Dianne Taylor and international guest Lulu Wang for this exciting korero exploring what works and what doesn’t, moderated by Marc Laureano. Diane Taylor is an acclaimed screenwriter whose credits include the series After the Party, and feature films Apron Strings and Beyond the Known World. Michael Bennett is a director, author and screen writer most recently co-writing the series The Gone and feature film The Convert. Lulu Wang is director, writer and showrunner for Prime Video series Expats. Prior to this she wrote and directed feature films The Farewell and Posthumous.

    1:40PM - 2:40PM | In the Spirit of Coopetition - RFONZ Panel Discussion

    I roto i te wairua o te mahi tahi - Matapakinga Paewhiri RFONZ
    ROOM: Harbour View Room
    MODERATOR: Jaclyn Philpott
    PRESENTED BY: Screenrights

    The eleven regional film offices (RFOs) around the country might be seen as competitors, but they’ve found a way over the last decade to cooperate and collaborate with each other in the spirit of ‘NZ Inc’, recognising the healthy ‘coopetition’ can be the best way to combine resources and achieve shared goals. Under the banner of RFONZ, they recognise they’re working towards a vision shared by many, a well-functioning Aotearoa New Zealand screen industry. This panel will discuss how and why the RFOs work together and what lessons can be learnt about this collaboration. And most importantly, what exactly does a well-functioning screen industry look like, from North to South? Join this outstanding panel, where moderator Jaclyn Philpott (Association of Film Commissioners International) visiting from Los Angeles will be in conversation with Petrina D’Rozario (Screen CanterburyNZ), Mark Westerby (Screen Wellington), Kahli Scott (Film Queenstown Lakes) and Jade Kent (Film Bay of Plenty).

    10 min Transition

    2:50PM - 4:00PM | SNEAK PREVIEWS

    Ētahi Tiro Takamua
    ROOM: Auditorium
    PRESENTED BY: Vista Foundation

    BSS attendees will hear from the directors of seven soon-to-be-released New Zealand films, and watch a sneak preview. Strictly no photographs or audio-visual recordings are to be taken during this session.

    4:00PM - 4:10PM | CLOSING COMMENTS

    ROOM: Auditorium