Successful film-maker Maria Tanner: ‘I missed the phonecall’

Wednesday May 13, 2020 Written by Published in Entertainment
Maria Tanner dreams of telling the world’s stories on film seemed to have been locked down by Covid. 20051202. Maria Tanner dreams of telling the world’s stories on film seemed to have been locked down by Covid. 20051202.

When New Zealand went into lockdown, Cook Islands film-maker Maria Tanner’s dreams were locked down too.

“Two of my shoots were put on hold indefinitely overnight and that was really hard,” she said. “Months of planning, prep, rehearsals, crunching budgets – gone.”

But her lockdown turned full circle, when the phone rang halfway through the five weeks of isolation. It was the good news she could barely dream of – and she nearly missed it.

“I actually missed the phone call, because I was busy doing my laundry.”

Fifty-one people from around the world had applied for the Māori Asian Pasifika Screen Development producer training programme; 12 made it through – and Tanner was the only Cook Islander.

She is feeling “still a little shook” and humbled at being selected.

“I knew going in, that submissions would be particularly competitive and as the only Cook Islander selected, I realise I'm bringing so much more than just myself into this space – it is my mum, my sisters, my aunties, my cousins – they all inform my world-view.”

There are high hopes the producers will be empowered to tell stories enriched by their cultural experiences.

Topics covered will include creating a sustainable production business, developing a slate of projects, understanding their personal and professional potential, generating income and increasing their skills and knowledge about all aspects of the screen industry.

She believes as individuals, “people should always be seeking out spaces that challenge and innovate your craft, for me, this is really the next iteration of that.

“This career path chose me, of all the areas of filmmaking, producing is the area that I excelled the most.

“What I've come to understand and appreciate about producing, particularly so in regards to film, is that it really is about recognising how to connect people to ideas and that in itself is empowering.

“I love that each day I’m practising some facet of that, large or small.”

At present Tanner is working on a few projects with creative teams in Auckland: an animation series with Tikilounge, Covid-19 messaging for Pacific communities with Bright Sunday and TP, and developing a short script in the mix.

Lockdown and the cancellation of her shoots was a step backwards for Tanner. “So if anything, I'd want to walk away from this knowing that I'm regaining lost ground.”

1 comment

  • Comment Link Thomas Tarurongo Wynne Thursday, 14 May 2020 10:26 posted by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne

    So proud of you cousin..your Dad , our Uncle Nooroa would have been so proud of you as your Mum is and we all are. You made the sacrifices, and now its opportunities coming your way...

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