Emerging Māori producers take up new screen development programme

By D'Angelo Martin

Four Māori emerging producers will be allowed to sharpen up and further develop their skills. Alongside eight others from Pasifika and Pan-Asian descent, this will be the first group for a new screen development programme to ensure more culturally-diverse producers are seen within the NZ screen industry.

A collective effort between Ngā Aho Whakaari (Māori in Screen Production), PASC (Pan Asian Screen Collective) and key members of the Pasifika screen community which brings you MAP (Māori Asian Pasifika) Screen Development and created the MAP Screen Development: Producer Training course. 

Hineani Melbourne Chief Executive of Ngā Aho Whakaari says that they were all aware of the lack of Māori, PI and Pan Asian producers who are known for the more prestige pieces of film being produced. With little numbers amongst the best of the industry, that concern has resulted in the creation of this new initiative.

"Māori are not getting to that level of major drama, they're not producing the feature films they're not producing the big-screen drama that would appear on Netflix for example."

The programme aims to further develop the skills of young producers and will give Angela Cudd(Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) and Nathaniel Howe both the tools they need to help in changing the narrative.

"This initiative is an answer to a direct need, one thing that I will say is that I think it is important to be the captain of our own stories," says Angela.

 Nathaniel is excited and eager to improve his skills and grow as a producer, "This course will further develop the skills of the producers who were selected which will enable us to excel." 

Nathaniel is 25 years of age and is still relatively young within his work as a producer, Waiata Nation being one of the first big productions that he's produced. 

"For every step within the creation of Waiata Nation came challenges and barriers for me to overcome and I wasn't shying away from them either. But I remain humble and admit that there is still a lot to learn."

Angela, on the other hand, says her she was fortunate to have an immense amount of support on her journey of being a producer.

"I went from being a production runner to an assistant to a co-ordinator to a manager - I went all the way up and had all that foundational knowledge.

"One of the key things that helped me that others may find challenging is mentors."

With the Budget set to be announced tomorrow, Hineani Melbourne says more financial support is needed for the screen sector.

"Māori are still funded at a lower level but is expected to create more productions for less. What we hope is that more money is put into developing Māori talent."

Nathaniel and Angela will continue to navigate and produce content on digital platforms.

"Where else can we deliver and tell our stories? It's time that we evolve and look towards these unchartered areas." 

Angela says, "My first short doco was all-digital, we released it on Māori TV On Demand, we released it on Youtube on Vimeo, on all those digital platforms."

The course will start this month and end in November, a key focus will be on marketing and pitching to funders, commissioners and platforms.