Shanks' film screens at Venice

Posted Tuesday 15 Sep 2020

Workshop 2


Congratulations to producer Olivia Shanks whose short Workshop was selected for this year's Venice Film Festival. Made in collaboration with Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School and directed by Toi Whakaari graduate Judah Finnigan, the film is up against 11 others in the festival's acclaimed Orizzonti short film section.

The absurdist comedy tells the story of seven young adults who arrive at a rundown conference facility to learn how to stand up to their parents. They undergo a series of increasingly bizarre exercises designed to empower them, but when their instructor pushes her teaching a step too far, the group are forced to put their new-found liberation to the test.

Click here for cast and crew information

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Vicky Pope on Savage

Posted Tuesday 15 Sep 2020

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Producer Vicky Pope maintains her latest film Savage, released in New Zealand 10 September, is about compassion, despite its rather brutal title and violent trailer. Inspired by stories from New Zealand's boys' homes and the early history of our gangs, Savage follows Danny across three decades of his life, taking a deeper look at a boy who grows into the brutal enforcer of a gang, to understand how he got there.

"When we showed the film to a test screen of older women they actually responded to the emotional side of it, to the internal conversation that's going on within him. The trailer pushes the film to the younger male audience."

In development for eight years, Savage was written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Sam Kelly. Pope admits she struggled when asked if she'd be involved with the project.

"I'm Pakeha, I come from a privileged background, and I have no experience with [the subject matter]. My last film was about a gardening nun! So yes, it took me a while to figure out the kaupapa of the Savage. "

While the film is asking many people to understand what could be a completely different life experience to theirs, Pope says many of the wider cast said they had connections to the lifestyle in the film.

Pope hopes the film will raise awareness of the roots of gang culture and of the role of the state in it.
"[The film] is trying to talk beyond ethnicity, and say anyone thrown into those situations where systemic abuse occurred - well this is what happens."

She recalls getting a phone call from someone involved in New Zealand's Abuse in Care - Royal Commission of Inquiry who was "beside herself with joy that this film is out".

The film's release was delayed by Covid-19 restrictions, frustrating not only for Pope but also because so many people were waiting on it. Casting was a "massive" experience with a lot of community involvement.

"For a lot of people the film was a big life experience and more than anything I want the film to come out for them."

Savage is released in New Zealand cinemas on 3 September, 2020

Click here to watch the Savage trailer