A New Plymouth film-making couple have just returned from hobnobbing it with movie-makers in Hollywood.
Dave Ritchie Smith directed, and his wife Nicci Smith produced, the film Cappuccino Tango, which won Tropfest NZ 2013.
And they finally got their prize last month - a trip to Los Angeles.
"It was a great experience. It gave us great insight into how films are made and distributed in Hollywood," Mr Smith said.
The couple went on an immersion course about the LA film scene with people from 10 countries, including Australia, China, Columbia, Spain, Mexico and Korea, he said.
"Every day we had different presentations on different aspects of the industry, from producers, lawyers, screen writers. They gave us an overview."
The talks were on how to get from an idea to a finished film and then get the film distributed.
Mr Smith's favourite presentation was at the Writers Guild of America. "They got about 60 people along purely to meet our group. They were people who were genuinely interested in socialising and networking and things like that, and bringing new people into the fold."
Part of the course was learning how to pitch a film idea. "You could pitch to a panel and they would tell you if they were interested or not."
Mr Smith did the training but didn't make a pitch because the panel was made up of people looking for films for Latino viewers, who made up about 25 per cent of the US film market.
While in LA the Smiths met a producer of American Beauty, Dan Jinks.
"He relayed the story of how difficult it was to get that film made. Apparently the script went round Hollywood for months and months because no one wanted to make it. Then this producer really pushed it and it got made . . ."
The 1999 movie won five Oscars, including Best Picture.
There are plenty of people in Hollywood ready to offer support, Mr Smith said.
"You just need to get a foot in the door. If they think they can make money on it they'll help you.
"There are very few people doing it for the art. They are in it for the money. Everyone at my level is doing it because we love it."
The couple came home with a concept for a feature film they are hoping to develop in 2015, if they can get funding.
In the meantime their film for Tropfest next year is now in postproduction, Mr Smith said.
"The film that won was a very special film and Andy Bassett, who created the music, did an amazing job. It was a relatively easy film to make.
"This one was quite difficult to make. There were quite a few challenges, but we got there. They are two very different films."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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