Filming ‘The Night of Ideas’ with the Embassy of France

Filming ‘The Night of Ideas’ with the Embassy of France

In a time where lots of doors are closed, it makes all the difference when one opens. In this MyView blog post, Film student Cameron Madams talks about an auspicious opening that lead to film production work with the Embassy of France.

Film and Psychology double-major Cameron Madams.

Taking an opportunity and running with it.

Kia ora, I’m Cameron Madams.

In a year where many saw their ambitions grind to a halt, I was greeted by an opportunity.
In July 2021, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s Senior Lecturer Dr Alfio Leotta approached me with an offer. Alfio was looking to hire a Research Assistant for a project funded by a Wellington Faculty of Humanity and Social Sciences (WFHSS) Teaching and Learning Grant. As an undergraduate fast approaching the end of my conjoint degree programme, I readily accepted. As a result, Alfio and I produced a trailer for FILM102 in the hope of informing and inspiring first-year film students to complete a course in film history.

When work leads to more work…

Alfio then invited me and another film student, Tiffany Khoo, to help produce ten videos for the Embassy of France in Wellington. The videos were to be New Zealand’s virtual contribution to the Night of Ideas—an annual international conference where French Embassies from around the world come together to share knowledge, art and, above all, interesting ideas. We took on the project and I had a great time putting the skills learned in our course work to use in a professional setting, for a pretty special client. 

The many faces of senior lecturer Dr. Alfio Leota. Clockwise from top left: as Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings; The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz; Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars; and Luke Skywalker (Cameron Madams behind camera).

Capturing Wellington personalities and getting down to work with the French Embassy

The theme of the conference for 2022 is ‘Rebuilding’ and the videos are a collection of short spotlight pieces, focusing on interesting people from different industries around Wellington. From architects, to cinema owners, to circus performing sculptors, we captured a plethora of personalities. We worked with a panel from the French Embassy to produce these videos. This was both an educational and rewarding experience. Working on such a high-calibre project required both consultation and deliberation and I thank each one of the collaborators for providing such an informative and eye-opening adventure.

As someone who did not grow up in Wellington, it was exciting for me to travel around the city to new places. Some highlights included Eastbourne in Lower Hutt and Nobel Rot, an amazing fine wine bar in the heart of Cuba Street.

Getting to hear different perspectives from different industry personalities about their experiences with the pandemic was nothing short of enlightening. One such person was Camille Furminieux, a café owner who found out that her suburban French eatery could flourish with many staff working from home.

Another was Walter Rushbrook, the general manager of Interislander ferry who is excited about two new hybrid ferries that have been commissioned.

Clockwise from top left: Camille Furminieux and Laurent Loudeac of Tartines French Café; Simon Werry of Light House Cinemas; Circus Performers and Artists Wendy and Eric Desiles; and Walter Rushbrook of Interislander.

A great opportunity that will serve me well for the future

I look back on the project as a great opportunity, which served as a crash course in commercial film production. I’m confident the betterment of my skills in things like video editing, interview technique, and cinematography will hold me in good stead when future opportunities come my way.

As for now, I am finishing a second trailer with Alfio, for FILM205 – Fantasy Cinema, which will be released soon.

The Night of Ideas went live on 27 January 2022.

Cameron Madams is studying for a conjoint LLB/BA double majoring in Film and Psychology.

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