New Zealand Film Awards 2014 - Submissions closing soon!

New Zealand Film Awards 2014 - Submissions closing soon!

Story by Elizabeth Jansson-Bush, courtesy of Showtools Magazine

With the submissions for the 2014 New Zealand Film Awards now open for entries until the 13th of October, we thought we would look back on the not so distant history of these awards.

A press release in mid-2012 revealing the film awards controversial split from the television awards meant that something had to be done, and fast. That’s when Ant Timpson and Hugh Sundae decided to work towards making an awards ceremony that exclusively celebrated the achievements of filmmakers. As they had been working on a film project together that year, they believed they had the skills and the contacts to put the awards together - and put them together they did, within a few short months.

They organised what they colloquially call “The Moas” in 2012 with the assumption that someone else would step up and do it “properly” the next year. Only now, this is their 3rd year of running it and the 2nd year of the 3 year contract with the Film Commission for the continued Film Awards.

The quality of the submissions this year have been said to be some of the best yet.

"This year feels like a milestone of sorts for NZ film and to not celebrate the momentum built from several strong features would be criminal” Ant Timpson said in a statement to Flicks.

The numbers that attend the Moas are also impressive. Last year 704 people attended the New Zealand Film Awards.

“It’s great that there is a default christmas party for the industry now. A lot of these people work really hard on productions. As well as it being a kind of celebration it’s also, you know, an awards ceremony. It’s entirely filled by the industry” - Hugh Sundae.

The funding of the Moa Awards include a mixture of entry fees, ticket sales, the Film Commission and sponsorship. The Moas are potentially looking for further sponsorship from the right people, but not to an excessive degree.

“We dont want to devalue it too much by having too many people involved” said Hugh Sundae.

All the awards had sponsors last year. This is with the exception of the Lifetime Achievement Award which is an entirely independent award - it’s not advertised on the site because people aren’t nominated for it. They are still in the process of figuring out which sponsors want to return this year.

One of the negatives of having sponsorships for Awards ceremonies is the risk of the appearance of bias. However, as the judging is all done by an offshore panel, there is no real risk of that. The judging is done by a main panel of people who do the general awards. Specialised areas such as cinematography or sound mixing, however, have a smaller, more expert panel. The judges come from a wide range of nations, including the States, UK and Europe and have no ties to people in the New Zealand film industry in order to achieve the most objective, unbiased results.

The Rialto Channel’s New Zealand Film Awards take place on the Friday of December the 12th, will be live streamed on NZ Herald Online, and later broadcast on Rialto Channel. Rialto will also be doing interviews with people throughout the show which will be part of the final product.

“Obviously we are delighted that they want to” said Hugh Sundae.

In terms of submissions, last year there were 20 feature films, 35 short films and 10 documentaries. Compare this to the 18 feature film categories, 6 short film categories and 4 documentary categories, and you realise that there is a fair bit of competition in each area. There are more short film entries than any others as they don’t have such big production costs, so more can be made each year.

Some people were skeptical about these awards, believing that New Zealand couldn’t produce enough feature film submissions to support it. But with the 20 eligible feature film submissions last year, this is clearly not the case.

“We try to put on a good night, it’s not just a “this business is better than the rest of you”, it’s a chance to celebrate the industry as a whole, as well as individual performances” - Hugh Sundae.

Entries are now open via the website below, and close at 5pm on Monday October 13.