In warehouses near motorways and on back lots in West Auckland, players who contract to the movie industry are making their mark – in business, and on the world.
Hugh Calveley has knocked on trailer doors in Hollywood, cold called a man called Vlado in Slovakia and done a deal in Las Vegas.
And the ‘cheeky’ Kiwi’s efforts are paying off.
Calveley’s company, Moxion, has just won a prestigious Hollywood Professional Association award for engineering excellence with its innovation, Immediates.
The technology has been picked up by film, TV and commercial-makers around the world – it is in demand during the Covid era because it enables people working on the projects with the ‘credentialed access’ to share and review footage from anywhere in the world within seconds of it being sent to the cloud.
That means no more crowding around a camera to look at footage, and no more having to wait to see what kind of shot you’ve captured.
It’s being called a game-changer for the industry which is used to “dailies” or seeing the footage from the day’s shoot at the end of the day.
“That whole kind of delay was the genesis of my company,” says Calveley.
He talks to The Detail‘s Sharon Brettkelly about the company he set up five years ago with Michael Lonsdale while working on film and commercial sets.
“Michael, my co-founder who was an editor, was going, ‘You’ve got the footage I need on the video assist on set but I can’t access it until the dailies turn up a day later’. So what we did is we connected the video assist to our application in the cloud, then you can see the dailies very quickly.
“What we’re finding is that a lot of these solutions that we’ve put in place for people to be able to work remotely absolutely apply even more so in these times of Covid.
“Normally they’d walk up to the monitors to see something. And they don’t need to do that so much any more. They can sit back in the safety of their trailer or wherever and review it.”
Calveley says the technology is being applied across other products including HDR (High Dynamic Range).
“It’s a very frustrating and exciting time in the industry right now. It’s frustrating because there’s some great stories out there that need to be told but it’s exciting because as the song goes; times they are a changing’.
Calveley says the reverse brain drain has helped filled jobs.
“Funny enough we’ve had Americans apply for the job – they said, you know what with what’s happening over here and with the bushfires we’d really like to come Downunder.”
The job went to a Kiwi.
Calveley has other ideas for making productions more cost efficient.
“New Zealand is an amazing place to shoot. The next step up in our maturity as a film producing nation is to keep a lot of this post (production) local.”
Taking the footage overseas for post-production, Calveley says, is akin to exporting our topsoil.
“People are more and more confident to do the whole production here.”
The Detail also meets Jo Warren and Mark Reihana of Doof Doof catering (read it backwards) in west Auckland, who have just emerged from six months of Covid shutdown to feed hundreds of people a day on film sets around the city.
The couple explain how they started with a “van and some plates, and an oven in our house and a fridge in our garage” and now run five trucks.
Banks wouldn’t lend them money so the IRD let them borrow their tax owed to build their first truck – the only way they could get started.
Now they’ve had to quickly draw up new social distancing rules that would satisfy the filmmakers’ parent companies in the US and UK.
Warren says fear of another lockdown keeps them awake at night. When it hit they were juggling three jobs at maximum capacity and went to nothing within a week. Then, six months of no work.
“I do remember crying,” she laughs.
Their staff have got them through some sticky situations, and in return the couple used the government wage subsidy to make sure they didn’t lose them over lockdown. But the rent, insurance and vehicle costs didn’t stop, and it was a lesson in being durable.
Now – the company has picked up 32 new staff in the last couple of weeks as everything starts up again and Covid regulations mean more people are required.
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