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David Hay first Dunedin Shanghai Screen Writers’ Exchange

21 November 2018

The Dunedin Shanghai Screen Writers’ Exchange begins this month with international award-winning film and television producer, writer and director, David Hay, leaving for six weeks in China on 24 November.

DCC-based Film Dunedin Coordinator, Antony Deaker, says, “David will have six weeks hosted by the Shanghai Art Film Federation to meet with film makers, visit studios and undertake research. He will work at NZ Central –a fantastic shared office space run by the NZ govt in central Shanghai, plus a serviced apartment and a daily allowance.

“The Dunedin Shanghai Screenwriters Exchange gives experienced screenwriters the opportunity to develop work and build new professional relationships. The hope is the exchange will lead to new content for film and television projects produced in New Zealand, China or both.”

The exchange project comes from an agreement signed between the Dunedin City Council’s (DCC) Enterprise Dunedin and SAFF in 2017 to build cooperation between the screen sectors. The Exchange has developed as a joint initiative of the DCC, New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and New Zealand Writers Guild (NZWG) with funding support from the Shanghai Art Film Federation (SAFF), NZFC, and DCC.

Mr Hay’s main project involves developing a feature script from the successful short film Cold Fish which he wrote and produced. He also plans to begin a new work, loosely based on the story of the 1902 NZ shipwreck of the SS Ventnor carrying the bones of 499 Chinese miners who had died in New Zealand from 1860s gold rush period onwards. The New Zealand Chinese community raised money to transport the bones home to China but tragically the ship sank and its precious contents were lost.

Mr Hay adds, “What an opportunity to live and work in Shanghai which is the centre of China’s burgeoning film industry. My hosts will introduce me to film makers and producers and show me around. The plan is to get Cold Fish written and ready to film in Dunedin. Hopefully, contacts I make over there can help make that happen.

“The best thing about this exchange is that I get to have six weeks to write without worrying about money or getting distracted by the state of the weatherboards on my house.”

Eight people applied to go on the exchange; all from Dunedin or with demonstrably strong connections to the city.

Mr Deaker says, “We chose David based on the strength of his screenwriting experience, the strength of the projects he intends to develop during the residency and on his ability to engage openly in the development of ideas with a range of partners. David has also worked professionally in China most recently in a Co-Production between Natural History New Zealand and Shanghai Media Group.”

In turn, a writer from Shanghai is due to arrive in Dunedin in 2019, spending time in the city and Central Otago.

Mr Deaker says, “I don’t have their details or projects yet, but we have arranged four weeks accommodation in Dunedin and two weeks at Carrick Vineyard in Bannockburn. With support of other councils and Regional Film Offices we plan to take the visitor to Oamaru, Queenstown and Invercargill as well. We will also set up meetings and host them to events, programmes, businesses and special places locally – tailored to their projects.”

The project is also one of the first New Zealand screen-related projects to become part of the Belt and Road Initiative with China.

David Hay – Biography Mr Hay is a freelance film and TV producer, writer and director based in Dunedin. He has been making commercial factual television for over 15 years. He has recently made two short dramas and written his first feature.

Career highlights include: winning Best Short Film for Cold Fish in Ravenna, Italy receiving the NZWG SEED Grant for his feature script South West accidentally walking Jackie Chan off a cliff in Tibet while filming Green Heroes for National Geographic getting inside the complex causes of one of the most deprived areas in the world in The Slum for Al Jazeera exploring the dark side of the social behaviour of animals on Inside the Pack (National Geographic) tackling race relations in the UK in BAFTA winning show In Search of the Tartan Turban (Channel 4, UK) examining masculinity and violence on the Love+Radio podcast episode Paremoremo.

Chloe (2014) was the first short drama that Mr Hay wrote and directed. His second short Cold Fish (2017) ( - password: coldfish) has played in festivals all over the world, picking up an award for Best Short Film in Ravenna, Italy. Mr Hay received the New Zealand Writers’ Guild SEED Grant earlier this year for his first feature script South West. The script is now in its fifth draft and ready to go out to producers.

Mr Hay has filmed extensively in China, having previously directed Jackie Chan in the documentary Jackie Chan’s Green Heroes and worked withShanghai Media Group on Top Roads China. He has also worked closely with National Geographic Asia and TV personality and inventor Arthur Huang. Mr Hay will use his new and existing contacts to cultivate co-production and funding opportunities whilst in Shanghai.


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