Student filmmakers change the climate

Wednesday 19 December 2018

After showing their film at COP24, these students are tackling climate change in the Pacific.

Third year Massey Bachelor of Creative Media Production graduate, Wiktoria Ojrzyńska and her team have created a documentary film exploring the impact climate change is having on the Pacific. Responding to a brief from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), their film shares insights into New Zealand’s response to the global objectives set by the Paris Agreement and highlights the urgency through the personal stories of Pacific peoples.

As part of their Creative Media Production (CMP) degree, Massey students create one major project for their 3rd year, working alongside real world clients and mentors and responding to industry briefs and challenges.

“As soon as I heard MFAT pitch their challenge to us about climate change in the Pacific and what NZ is doing about it, I knew straight away I wanted to use my final year to make something meaningful. The subject of climate change wasn’t new to me, however, the approach on how it affects the Pacific was something I had to research.

Says Wiktoria, “I was inspired to get into filmmaking when I got my first camera at 12. I’ve always wanted to document things and been interested in documentary and drama. I want people to feel something after watching my films, I want people to reflect on their own lives. Our film does exactly that.”

Te Rewa O Puanga, the School of Music and Creative Media Production, was established to respond to New Zealand’s internationally recognised reputation for innovation, creativity and growth in the areas of screen and creative technologies.

The programme is designed to equip students in the practical, critical and commercial aspects of media production essential for entering into a sustainable career in NZ’s renowned screen industry.  Recent graduates have already been employed by Weta Digital, Mechanic Animation, Flying Saucer Films, Pik Pok, Pukeko Pictures among others.

Subject to Change screened as part of the COP24 global climate summit in Poland in December and showed in November at the Oceania Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

“MFAT has given us the opportunity to share the film with an international audience. There is a lot of content online about climate change, usually about melting glaciers and weather events, but MFAT’s approach seemed to me extremely interesting. Pacific culture is so diverse and unique, being able to show how it can be affected by our daily life choices in developed countries was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss out on.” 

An MFAT spokesperson said it was great to be able to provide the students with an opportunity to help their studies. “In return they delivered a high-quality product that met our brief and which has been engaging audiences everywhere we’ve screened it.”

Wiktoria says, “I felt privileged to be able to represent New Zealand and Massey University at the Oceania Exhibition and at the COP24. I was able to talk to many inspirational people during both events and had some very interesting discussions with people from all over the world, not only about the film itself, but also about climate change and the Pacific itself. However, the most rewarding moment was on Batiki Island in Fiji, where we have filmed 50% of our film. It was a beautiful experience to be able to show it to the community of people who opened their doors for us and shared their intimate stories with us. Hearing how they clapped and laughed when they saw their kids and neighbours on the big screen was a true reward for us.”

Wiktoria says of any student interested in a creative media career to believe in yourself, always be confident and if you have an idea don’t be scared to go for directing or producing roles. Be confident, trust your gut, and tell the stories you want to tell.