Jane Campion launches directing intensive in New Zealand

Jane Campion.

While doing publicity for The Power of the Dog, director Jane Campion often mentioned in interviews her desire to open a small, pop-up film school in New Zealand.

It seems Campion’s desires have come to fruition, with the recent Oscar winner officially launching today A Wave in the Ocean, a popup intensive course for New Zealand’s emerging film directing talent.

Based in Wellington, the 12-month program is aimed at participants with some experience: who have made at least one short film, or have worked in allied creative industries. Around 8-10 writer/directors will be accepted, with 50 per cent to be women.

Netflix is among the backers of the initiative, and Campion has also consulted with the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) to seek advice and discuss talent development.

“It struck me that the conditions in which I was given a true opportunity to be a filmmaker are not available today and have never been in Aotearoa. In 1981 I was lucky enough to attend film school in Australia [at AFTRS] where everyone was not only paid a living stipend but we were able to make short films with budgets supplied by the school as well meet and be together with like-minded students, some of whom I’m still close to. In my experience the true learning happened on projects and between peers,” Campion says.

“This moment feels like a time to give back and I am incredibly grateful that Netflix has chosen to fully support this popup film directing intensive which I characterise as A Wave In The Ocean. At this stage it may be a standalone but we are hoping it will act as a pilot and there will be many more.”

The course will be structured around a series of laboratories, beginning with an introductory 10-day session in November, followed by 4–5 sessions of five days each. Topics will include meaning-making with sound and image, working with non-actors and actors, casting and rehearsal practice, and film coverage. There will also be a six-day script camp focusing on writing.

Campion will be the artistic director of the initiative and will participate across the whole first year, with Philippa Campbell, producer of Top of the Lake, as co-director. It is expected that both international and New Zealand professionals will join as guests to share their knowledge.

Participants will receive a $NZ32,000 living stipend to attend and have the opportunity to make a fully funded short film at the end of coursework (expected budget $NZ100,000). Participants are also eligible for additional financial assistance for accommodation, accessibility and travel of up to $NZ25,000.

“Jane Campion’s A Wave in the Ocean is a unique tailor-made talent development opportunity for filmmakers in Aotearoa, one like we have never seen before,” said NFZC head of talent development Dale Corlett.

“The chance for NZ talent to work with such an amazing and celebrated NZ director and her team on honing and developing their craft and practice is going to be a unique opportunity that will benefit not only them but the wider industry as a whole.”

Netflix head of global film Scott Stuber added: “If you want to know the type of person Jane Campion is, look no further than A Wave in the Ocean. While she was filming The Power of the Dog, Jane shared with us that what she really wanted to do next is create a program in New Zealand for emerging filmmakers.  We are thrilled to be a part of this and to be supporting Jane and future potential award winners from Aotearoa.”

All applicants must be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

Applications open for the intensive from today on the NZFC website, closing July 13.