‘Orange is the New Black’ creator Jenji Kohan to headline SPADA conference


Jenji Kohan. 

Jenji Kohan, the creator of Netflix’s most-watched original show, Orange is the New Black, will headline New Zealand’s SPADA (Screen Production and Development Association of New Zealand) conference this year, which will also feature an international address from Lord David Puttnam.

SPADA 2019 will be held at Auckland’s Aotea Centre across November 20-21 and will conclude to align with the 2019 NZ TV Awards.

Kohan is a coup for the NZ screen industry event which will focus strongly on the international development of local content and opportunities for global co-production.

“We’re thrilled to have such an exceptional line-up of international and domestic speakers at this year’s conference. Rather than narrow ourselves to one theme, we’ve developed sessions to drive conversation around key issues that affect us as an industry both now and in the future,” says SPADA’s executive director Sandy Gildea tells IF.

“As one of the leading female showrunners in Hollywood, who has helped shape some of the most iconic series of the last 25 years, we welcome Jenji Kohan to our conference.  We look forward to exploring her insights into the shifts affecting TV production and how to create disruptive game changing content.”

Kohan is also the creator and executive producer of Weeds and has written for Mad About You, Sex and the City and Gilmore Girls.

Her  work on Orange Is the New Black contributed to Netflix’s reputation as a transgressive content platform willing to invest in writers and creatives. According to Netflix, over 105 million subscribers has watched at least one episode of the seven season long series.

In other conference highlights, New Zealand actor, producer, director and acting coach Miranda Harcourt will deliver the 2019 NZ On Air John O’Shea Memorial Address.

New Zealand’s senior network commissioners TVNZ’s Nevak Rogers, Three’s Sue Woodfield, Prime’s Annie Murray, RNZ’s Kay Ellmers and Maori Television’s Callie Schaumkal will cover the power of local content.

Australian creative, production and documentary talent will also feature heavily discussing collaboration, co-production, financing and international engagement. Special Australian guest speakers include actor, writer and producer Nick Boshier and freshly appointed head of Jungle Entertainment’s new feature film division Bridget Callow-Wright, who will discuss leveraging digital audience engagement for local and global broadcast audiences and the evolution of short form in TV and SVODs.

In a New Zealand first, Australian documentary producers Shark Island will screen the Ian Darling directed The Final Quarter, with special guest Malinda Wink, executive director of Shark Island Institute and Good Pitch. Wink will also join a panel discussion on social impact feature documentaries, philanthropy and alternative funding, as well as the challenges of making and distributing theatrical documentaries.

Other international guests include expat Shane Thompson, VP Integrated Marketing at Warner Bros and UK-based Jonathan Olsberg, Chairman of creative industries strategy consultants Olsberg*SPI who will deliver two-hour screen business masterclass.

The recipients of the 22nd annual SPADA Screen Industry Awards will be announced on Wednesday 20 November, before the Opening Night Cocktail function.