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Emmy Winning Showrunner Headlines SPADA 2019 Conference

The creator of Netflix’s most-watched original show, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, Jenji Kohan will be headlining this year’s Screen Production and Development Association of New Zealand (SPADA) Conference at the Aotea Centre in Auckland across 20 and 21 November.

Netflix’s flagship drama ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK ran for 91 episodes and seven seasons, their first adult original to reach such a landmark.

Since its inception ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK has garnered a slate of awards - 16 Emmy nods and four wins under its belt, as well as recognition at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Jenji Kohan

A Los Angeles native, Kohan is an award winning writer, producer and showrunner with a screen career spanning twenty five years. Starting out as a writer on THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR, Jenji went on to write episodes for MAD ABOUT YOU, WILL AND GRACE, SEX AND THE CITY and GILMORE GIRLS. Kohan was also the creator of the Showtime dark comedy-drama TV series WEEDS, which she executive produced as showrunner and head writer throughout its entire eight season airing.

The SPADA Conference brings together international and national screen industry speakers. It includes plenary sessions, workshops and masterclasses covering producing, creating, financing and distribution. SPADA is the industry body that represents New Zealand’s independent film and television practitioners on all issues affecting the business and creative aspects of screen production.


Actor, producer, director and internationally acclaimed acting coach Miranda Harcourt will deliver this year’s NZ On Air John O’Shea Memorial Address. As an acting coach Miranda works with renowned actors and directors on series and films all over the world, including Jane Campion, Peter Jackson, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Saoirse Ronan.

Leading a panel discussion on the path to industry growth is producer John Barnett, the driving force behind some of New Zealand's best and top-earning movies – WHALE RIDER, SIONE’S WEDDING, FOOTROT FLATS - and some of our most seminal and unique television. UK-based Jonathan Olsberg, Chairman of creative industries strategy consultants Olsberg*SPI will be joining that panel discussion as well as delivering a two-hour screen business masterclass.

Jonathan has worked in the screen industry for 35 years, starting out in New York as an international sales agent, handling titles such as MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDERETTE. Jonathan has built a reputation as a strategic adviser at the highest levels of media, business and government.

Other international guests include ex-pat Shane Thompson. Shane is VP Integrated Marketing at Warner Bros, a highly specialized role that straddles the worlds of production and marketing - from theatrical to consumer products, games and soundtrack albums to home entertainment and TV. Shane has overseen integrated campaigns for six of the ten highest-grossing films in the studio’s history, including THE DARK KNIGHT, WONDER WOMAN and AQUAMAN, as well as such worldwide hits as INCEPTION, A STAR IS BORN and DUNKIRK, for a combined global box office of over $10 billion.

Another highlight at this year’s SPADA Conference is a special message for delegates from Lord David Puttnam. Lord Puttnam spent thirty years as an independent producer of award-winning films including THE MISSION, THE KILLING FIELDS, CHARIOTS OF FIRE, MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, BUGSBY MALONE and LOCAL HERO. Together these films have won 10 Oscars,

10 Golden Globes, 25 Baftas, and the Palme D'Or at Cannes.

Special Australian guest speakers include actor, writer and producer Nick Boshier (TRENT FROM PUNCHY, BEACHED AZ, BONDI HIPSTER) and newly appointed head of Jungle Entertainment’s new feature film division Bridget Callow-Wright (OVER AND OUT, SKITBOX, NO ACTIVITY, BUTTERFLY TREE) who will discuss leveraging digital audience engagement for local and global broadcast audiences and the evolution of short form in TV and SVODs.

Senior network commissioners Nevak Rogers (TVNZ), Sue Woodfield (Three), Annie Murray (Prime), Kay Ellmers (RNZ) and Callie Schaumkal (Maori Television) will cover the power of local content.

In a New Zealand first, Australian documentary producers Shark Island will screen the Ian Darling directed THE FINAL QUARTER, with special guest Malinda Wink, Executive Director of Shark Island Institute and Good Pitch. Malinda will also join a panel discussion on social impact feature documentaries, philanthropy and alternative funding, as well as the challenges of making and distributing theatrical documentaries.

“We’re thrilled to have such an exceptional line-up of international and domestic speakers at this year’s conference. Rather than narrow ourselves to one theme, we’ve developed sessions to drive conversation around key issues that affect us as an industry both now and in the future,” says SPADA’s executive director Sandy Gildea.

“As one of the leading female showrunners in Hollywood, who has helped shape some of the most iconic series of the last 25 years, we welcome Jenji Kohan to our conference. We look forward to exploring her insights into the shifts affecting TV production and how to create disruptive game changing content.”


The recipients of the 22nd annual SPADA Screen Industry Awards will be announced on Wednesday 20 November, before the Opening Night Cocktail function.

The annual SPADA Conference is produced with the support of its Strategic Partner the New Zealand Film Commission; Key sponsors NZ On Air, Images and Sound, Screenrights, Park Road Post Production and South Pacific Pictures: Sponsors and Supporters, SURA Film and Entertainment, Fulcrum Media Finance, Crombie Lockwood, Budget Rent a Car, BOP Films, Film Finances, BCD Travel and The Data Book.


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