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Welcome to the future - Remote directing

Welcome to the future - Remote directing

COVID-19 is having a big impact on the screen industries around the world. Travel restrictions and lockdowns make it impossible for crews to follow a normal work routine and filming abroad could be out of the equation for quite some time. But how do we get film crews back to Canterbury? Remote directing could be the key to success.

All over the world production companies have the same issue right now: what options are available to keep shooting films, commercials and movies? Zac Beckett-Knight (Late Knight Productions) and Ondrej Najman (chucky.creative) see huge potential in a new specialised workflow called "remote directing". This workflow gives overseas production companies the option to shoot abroad without physically being there.

People still want to film the Southern Alps, the meandering rivers and the beautiful Canterbury landscape which sets us apart from other destinations", 

Zac Beckett-Knight, Late Knight Productions

"People still want to film the Southern Alps, the meandering rivers and the beautiful Canterbury landscape which sets us apart from other destinations", explains Zac "and this is still possible with the help of local crews". Remote directing means that there is a local on-set director who is in constant communication with an off-set director sitting in China for example. Real-time live streaming allows the off-set director to see what is going on and to provide feedback immediately. This workflow needs a far more collaborative approach and Zac knows that good preparation is key: "it needs a recipe that everyone on the set can follow". Spending more time in pre-production using detailed storyboards, location stills, walk-throughs, etc. is crucial to help to carry out the vision of the off-set director, to sync the two creative minds and to build up a level of trust.

The downside of this work process is the amount of time needed: as there is more communication involved it slows down productivity. "But on the other hand, this is a very good opportunity for local crews to showcase their talent and move up the career ladder. Local directors are able to direct big production which wasn't possible before", says Zac.

Local directors are able to co-direct a production with more experienced and well-known director. The local director works in closely with the overseeing director to develop a unified vision. They then act as the overseeing directors proxy on set, collaborating in real time through live set streaming to get the best results. This lets larger off-shore productions continue to shoot in the region and offers an opportunity for up-and-coming directors, or any Heads of Department really, to get on-the-job mentoring and increased international exposure.

We have the natural assets and now we have to show that we also have the technical production to accommodate it."

Zac Beckett-Knight, Late Knight Productions

Ondrej is convinced that now is the time to show the world what Cantabrians are capable of: "working together we can produce fresh content which showcases big markets that we can do really cool stuff down here." Zac feels that the Canterbury region is at a crossroad. "We have the natural assets and now we have to show that we also have the technical production to accommodate it."

The pressure is on and the New Zealand screen industry has a huge chance to establish itself as a global leader in film production. So far the country has managed to keep the Covid-19 cases down and could be moving out of lockdown quicker than the rest of the world.

Some productions are looking to shoot now and New Zealand could be one of the few options available. "And there is more", says Zac: "companies abroad are following the technological developments happening in New Zealand with great interest to see what solutions are in place and to learn from us. It would be great if Canterbury could take on a pioneering role in developing a change in workstream which will have a big impact on how productions will be run in the future."

For More Information Contact

Bree Loverich
Screen CanterburyNZ Manager