A little bit of California came to UCOL recently, as 12 students and two staff from the Brooks Institute had a three day stopover at the School of Photography, Arts and Design.
The group are in New Zealand to work on a range of documentary film-making projects and accepted UCOL's offer of support and a home base at the Palmerston North campus at the mid-way point of their six week trip. UCOL has a formal relationship with the Brooks Institute, an arts college centred on the visual and media arts based in Ventura, California.
On their arrival, the students divided up into small teams and then scattered around the country to undertake a diverse range of documentary assignments including Māori Beekeeping, the Yellow Eyed penguin, post-earthquake Christchurch, and health and poverty issues.
The three days in Palmerston North gave them the opportunity to reconnect, review and critique the work in progress, while interacting with UCOL staff and students.
Brooks Institute Senior Lecturer Susan Bloom says the group has been impressed with the warm generosity of New Zealanders and says the overnight stay at the local Kauwhata Marae was a highlight. "We spent 15 weeks preparing for our visit but were not expecting the influence of the Māori culture to be so significant. It has been a fantastic experience for us all."
She says the trip has been a real eye-opener for the students as they deal with the challenges of casting actors, sourcing accommodation and making other production arrangements in a different country.
Brooks Institute student filmmakers Alexander Fails and Rhys Robertson soon realised after their arrival that they had to make their script adaptable and rethink some of their early ideas. "We've decided we are definitely better film makers than producers!" says Alexander.
The pair brought quite a bit of camera and sound gear with them in their luggage. "But it still wasn't enough. "We are really grateful to visit and be able to use some of the facilities here at UCOL."
UCOL Senior Lecturer in Photography Ian Rotherham says the School of Photography, Arts and Design are delighted to be furthering the relationship they have had with the Brooks Institute since 2013, and hope to do more exciting collaborations in the future.
"UCOL's School of Photography, Arts and Design and Brooks share a very similar ethos and are a good 'fit'. There are real opportunities to expand the relationship into educational and cultural exchanges of both academic staff and students."