Wednesday, March 17, 2010

(true) Crime screenwriter speaking in Dunedin

Those in the Dunedin area will have a rare chance to hear Graeme Tetley, one of New Zealand's most distinguished and experienced film screenwriters, speak later this month.

Tetley is most famous for penning superb New Zealand films like Vigil, Ruby & Rata, and acclaimed true crime film Out of the Blue (screenshot left). He has also been a consultant on other great local films like No. 2, and was recently the writer for the popular TV mini-series Aftershock. Tetley is appearing at a public event held at St David's Lecture Theatres at the University of Otago, at 5:30pm on Saturday 27 March. The event is part of Script to Screen's great Writer's Room programme.

According to its website, Script to Screen is an independent industry & community-wide initiative, established to develop the craft and culture of storytelling for the screen (film, television, and new media) in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The Writer's Room "is a dynamic series of discussion events that bring together a changing line up of top New Zealand and international screenwriters, directors and producers to discuss their craft."

Monthly events are held in Auckland, and special events, such as the one featuring Tetley later this month, at other centres nationwide.

The Dunedin event on 27 March, is a conversation between Graeme Tetley, one of New Zealand's most notable screenwriters, and screenwriter and script consultant Kathryn Akuhata-Brown. According to Script to Screen, "With reference to the iconic New Zealand films written by Tetley, the discussion will delve into how to approach the feature-writing process including making good choices in the early stages of developing an idea, the importance of research, finding a poetic voice and discovering the heart of your project."

I thought Tetley did a fantastic job with the screenplay for OUT OF THE BLUE, which was a layered and thoughtful portrayal of a terrible event in New Zealand's past; the Aramoana massacre. For those who aren't aware, 'Aramoana' (you only have to say the word for Kiwis to know what you are talking about) refers to the deadliest criminal shooting in New Zealand history. You can read more about the November 1990 incident here.

So Tetley had to craft a screenplay based on a true story that still evokes a lot of emotion - for overseas readers, it is the equivalent of someone making a feature film (rather than a TV movie) about something like the Port Arthur Massacre (Australia), the Washington sniper or Columbine shootings (USA), or other similar incidents. Personally, I think he did a great writing job, capturing the time period, the people, and lots of underlying issues and themes, along with the violence etc. You can read a very good interview with Tetley by Onfilm magazine, about writing such a story for the screen, here.

I'd recommend anyone in the Dunedin area to head along. I'm sure it will be a fascinating talk, from an accomplished writer.

"A Spirit of Indepence - Graeme Tetley"
5.30pm, Saturday 27 March, St David St Lecture Theatres, University of Otago, Cnr St David and Castle St, Dunedin

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