“When I was a student,” said Dame Jane Campion - though when she said it she was just Jane - “I used to feel deeply cynical about award nights like this. But tonight I’m really overwhelmed.”
It was 1994 and Campion was clasping a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for The Piano.
It’s easy to feel ambivalent about awards, especially for Kiwis, who are a retiring bunch and tend not to step forward unless pushed.
There are many reasons for screen professionals to enter their work into awards, though. Call it self-promotion, if you must, but I prefer to think of awards as benchmarking – validation that you’re doing really cool stuff, and your peers admire it.
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is full of screen professionals who do really cool stuff, which is why I agreed – and am honoured – for the third year in a row to be on the judging panel for the Makers & Shakers Awards, which are based in the UK and celebrate excellence in global screen production.
Where many awards focus on creatives, Makers & Shakers lauds the achievements of changemakers, thought leaders and pioneers. Categories include things like Outstanding Creative Use of a Location; Initiative To Grow Local Industry; Film Commission Initiative of the Year; and Shaker of the Year, which goes to someone ‘who really made an impact, a long-lasting change to the industry’.
In 2021, people and organisations from New Zealand won two of those categories and were shortlisted in the other pair. I’ll let you click through to find out who they were, but suffice to say that they stepped forward to be considered alongside peers from other countries and in doing so showed that the work going on in Aotearoa is world class. That, in turn, helps raise the profile of our industry – which is not easy when you’re carrying out your day-to-day work from Auckland.
So I urge you to throw your hats into the ring. Entries are due by 1 July, and it’s easy and free. If you’re shortlisted, I recommend attending the ceremony, too. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and greet fellow makers and shakers from around the world, and take part in the Focus 2022 production market while you’re there. Turn up a week earlier and go to the Content London event.
One final reason to enter these and other awards.
Stepping forward is important. Taking a bow is important. Many of us love screen for its artistry, its storytelling, its technical aspects, but the industry thrives on successes, too, and success breeds success.
How has the work of Cole Meyers – a finalist in last year’s Makers & Shakers Awards for Rūrangi – inspired LGTBQ+ people to bring their stories to the screen? How many women now work in the screen industry because of Dame Jane Campion?
So that’s why it’s important to step forward. It matters to you as filmmakers, it matters to the health of the industry, and it matters to others who see what you do and think, ‘I want to do that. I can do that. I will do that.’
Jasmine Millet is Screen Auckland Manager. She has decades of experience as a producer, director and writer, and as a powerful advocate for the screen sector at local, national and international levels.