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In The Zone is the extraordinary story of Chicago-born Terrance Wallace, who attempts to transform the lives of a group of New Zealand teens in a bid to prove that cycles of inequality can be broken. Director Robyn Paterson (pictured above) filmed the 115-minute documentary over four years in New Zealand and in the United States. It's the Zimbabwe-born Paterson's second feature film, and is produced by Jill Macnab.

What sparked the idea for the film? What drew you to the subject?
When I first moved to Auckland I really noticed the amount of segregation in the city, along racial and socio-economic lines - I found it quite alarming actually. I grew up in Zimbabwe when it was newly independent, and my parents had been active in South Africa's anti-apartheid movement. My family includes African (Xhosa), Papua New Guinean, Māori. So issues around racial inequality have always been front and centre. When I saw a newspaper article about Terrance, and what he was doing with the InZone Project, I felt it was an important story to tell. I called him and we met up, and connected about the issues.

Tell us a bit about the challenges you faced in funding and filming.
Things got off to a great start, I pitched the film at DocEdge in 2015 and won that competition - which led to Vendetta Films coming on board as the Australia & New Zealand distributor, and Jill Macnab joining the project as producer. But our battle for funding has been long and hard. I'm very grateful for the funding we did eventually receive (New Zealand On Air, TVNZ and the New Zealand Film Commission), but it took over three years of filming between Auckland and Chicago with almost no funds - on top of full-time television work to pay the bills - in order to get there. Both my mother and cinematographer Sean Loftin's mother were terminally ill with cancer over that time too - so it's taken a lot of digging deep to keep pushing through. The importance of the story has kept us going mentally, and I'm so thankful for our Kickstarter heroes who helped us keep going financially when we needed it most!

Tell us a bit about the challenges you faced in funding and filming.
Things got off to a great start, I pitched the film at DocEdge in 2015 and won that competition - which led to Vendetta Films coming on board as the Australia & New Zealand distributor, and Jill Macnab joining the project as producer. But by far the biggest challenge of this film has been our lengthy battle for funding. I'm very grateful for the funding we did eventually receive (New Zealand On Air, TVNZ and the New Zealand Film Commission), but it took over three years of filming between Auckland and Chicago without almost any funds - on top of full-time television work to pay the bills - in order to get there. Both my mother and cinematographer Sean Loftin's mother were terminally ill with cancer over that time too - so it's taken a lot of digging deep to keep pushing through. The importance of the story has kept us going mentally, and I'm so thankful for our Kickstarter heroes who helped us keep going financially when we needed it most!

 

What are your thoughts on the future for women in the screen industry, especially those producing and directing?

It's extremely difficult to sustain or develop a career as a filmmaker, and for many women in particular - who are often carrying the primary caregiver role with children and/or other family members - it's just not a viable option. Getting a film out requires a combination of good fortune and incredible sacrifice. I'd love to see more annual fellowships or similar for filmmakers, which will help nurture and support careers, as well as project-based funding.

What's your next project?
Right now I'm directing factual series for television; but I have a new documentary that I'm keen to start on when I can, and I'd also love to develop my first narrative feature. My first narrative short Run Rabbit came out earlier this year so it would be good to build on that experience. Women are still very underrepresented in drama directing in particular, and I'm definitely keen to knock at that door!

IMAGE/supplied

 

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