News | 9 May 2019
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Screen legends help with the write stuff

Some big hitters from the world of New Zealand film and TV will be on hand to support Abi King-Jones, Toi Pōneke Arts Centre’s 2019 Write Room Wellington Screenwriter’s Residency recipient.

Write Room Residency panel and recipient left to right Rob Sarkies, Abi King Jones, Vicky Pope, Desray Armstrong
(L-R) Rob Sarkies, Abi King Jones, Vicky Pope, Desray Armstrong

Abi will be in residence in Wellington for 12 weeks, where she will be provided with a grant, studio space and experienced creative support from Producers; Desray Armstrong (Stray, Ellen Is Leaving, Meathead) and Vicky Pope (Savage, Gardening with Soul, Two Little Boys), and Director Rob Sarkies (Scarfies, Out of the Blue, Consent ) who make up the selection and mentoring panel.

Vicky Pope says there was an overwhelming response to the Write Room Residency Programme with 50 applications in the 2019 round.

“Overall the panel were impressed with the standard of writing and breadth of work being developed in Wellington. It's a strong validation of the need for this kind of support for both emerging and established screenwriters, so we’re thrilled to be able to partner with Toi Pōneke to provide this opportunity,” says Vicky.

“Abi’s project is well researched with a lot of strong material to be drawn from, and at a stage where the panel feel it will benefit from Write Room support to help it take the next step on its journey towards production. The team are excited about the opportunity to support a filmmaker transitioning from documentary into drama. The writing is complex and has a maturity to it, it’s also very cinematic and set in its own unique world.”

Abi King-Jones’ project Out of the Vaipe, the Deadwater, is a feature adaptation of the memoir of the same name by acclaimed Samoan writer Albert Wendt.

“I was lucky enough to have Albert as one of my lecturers at Auckland University. He made a deep impact on me and I went on to read all of his novels and short story collections. Indeed, Albert’s writing and knowledge has been a gateway for me to understand my own heritage,” says Abi.

“The Write Room Residency will provide me with the essential time, resources and support to complete the first draft of my script, and progress the project to the next development phase. It will allow me to engage in a sustained writing practice with input and guidance from other experienced filmmakers.”

The inaugural recipient of the Write Room Residency was Harry Meech in 2018.

Toi Pōneke Arts Centre currently run three other residency programmes to support Wellington based arts practitioners across a variety of mediums. A Sound Art Residency in partnership with Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music, a Dance Residency, and a Visual Arts Residency.