$100,000 kick-starter for fresh talent at TVNZ
A pair of creatives battled it out to get their hands on $100,000, but with the money comes a mountain of further challenges.
Ashleigh Reid and Isla Macleod, two 22-year-old Auckland filmmakers, won a competition that signs them up to make a web series for TVNZ.
Reid admits it will be a tough ask pulling everything together on budget. The project's backers say that although the fund is more of a "kick-starter" than "sustainable business amount", the competition has already succeeded in revealing fresh media talent.
TVNZ unveiled its talent search for a low-budget online series in a competition called New Blood. After securing $50,000 of taxpayer funding from New Zealand On Air, TVNZ asked the public to vote for its new web-series.
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The broadcaster received about 160 pilot episodes and 8600 people voted for their favourite shows, it said.
After the four week vote, the 22-year-old pair came out victorious with a show about two polar opposite sisters forced to live together in their twenties. Their series, Oddly Even, followed the life of two flatting sisters – except one of the sisters moved in uninvited.
Oddly Even co-director Ashleigh Reid said they picked a storyline that was similar to their own lives to be convincing.
"We set it in Auckland. Present day, because that's what is easy. When you're working with no budget, working with what you've got to make something as realistic and seemingly high budget as possible," she said.
Despite trying to minimise complications Reid admitted their 15-minute pilot took about seven weeks to make.
"We were working nights leading up to it. It was pulled together through a lot of favours. I just think we didn't know what to expect. We were making something that we wanted to see on TV," Reid said.
Although Reid didn't know how many episodes they were expected to produce, or how long each instalment would be, she said they definitely wouldn't be spending seven weeks on each show.
"We were pulling it together in our spare time – in the limited spare time we had. Now, it's actually a job rather than it being a hobby," she said.
NZ On Air head of innovation Brenda Leeuwenberg judged the entries alongside a panel of 10 other industry insiders.
Leeuwenberg said the competition was a chance to kick-start young careers.
A shortlist of 10 pilot episodes made it through for the public to vote on. They included shows featuring The Project host Josh Thomson and former Shortland St actor Grace Palmer.
Leeuwenberg admitted that it was a hard ask to make a series for $100,000.
"It's not really a sustainable business amount, so no, it's considerably less for television or film for the same duration," she said.
But the small stakes fund would give the young filmmakers a chance to make their own creative decisions at a young age, she said.
"We recognised that it was just put out there as a let's see what will happen thing," she said.
TVNZ had also promised to mentor and assist the Oddly Even directors.