Tess Blackett

Tessa Blackett has stepped down from the Film Bay of Plenty Board.

Sadly Tessa Blackett stepped down from the Film Bay of Plenty Board last month. Thanks Tessa for all the wonderful work you have done and all the best!

Published 1 November 2019 | by Elysia Gibb


Changing of the guard - an acknowledgement

At our recent AGM I stepped down as a Film Bay of Plenty trustee, and in July 2019 Joanne Rye-McGregor passed away - the vibrant woman who started this whole ball rolling. So even though I’ll still be around and helping out, for me this feels a little like the end of an era, completing the handing over to the new guard. I thought this might be an appropriate time to reflect on where we’ve come from and acknowledge the enormous amount of effort put in by many people to make Film Bay of Plenty what it is today.

I’ve been involved with this organisation and its people for the last 12 years, since its inception when Joanne wrote an article in a free Tauranga newspaper looking for other local filmmakers to come together and support and encourage each other in all aspects of filmmaking. New to the Bay, I was one of those who came along to that first gathering of like-minded creative and enthusiastic locals, and it was the start of something special. We morphed into a group we named the Tauranga Film Collective.


The collective was all about nurturing and encouraging, providing opportunities to create, to share ideas, and Joanne put in a lot of work chasing funding and making things happen. She was always appalled when she heard about Auckland crews brought down to shoot in the Bay, and was passionate about raising people’s awareness of local talent. We started compiling people’s details for a local crew directory and in an email to the group she wrote:  "Hey Auckland, feel the rumble, the ground is moving. The Bombays are but a blip on our radar.”


When Joanne’s health issues returned, she had to step down as coordinator of the collective. At the time we had just connected with Anton Steel, a local creative who’d made a feature film which became a Te Puke community project. We’d all been inspired by him and his story, and he’d loved our group and its kaupapa. When Joanne stepped down, Anton and I stepped up to coordinate the group. He became the new driving force, and I just helped take care of details.


Over the last 4 years, under Anton’s leadership that group has grown into a very successful and highly respected Bay-wide organisation, now called Film Bay of Plenty. Behind the scenes there’s been a lot of work put in by Anton and those in support roles - now paid positions - and also by volunteers on the operations team and the board. I’d particularly like to acknowledge the input of Kylie DellaBarca Steel for her work to establish our trust and acquire funding and for being such a wise guide as our first board chair, and also current board chair Paula Jones and trustee Kim Webby for the extra work they have put in. And over the years there’s been a lot of heart given, as well as hours, by people like Jannine Spiers, Kristy Robinson and Rosalie Liddle-Crawford. Working with this team, Anton’s input has been incredible, coming up with ideas, having vision, and really making things happen.

Film Bay of Plenty is now our regional film office, all about connecting national and international productions with our people, place and infrastructure, creating a film-friendly environment in the Bay, and celebrating the stories that find their home here. With Anton as CEO, and governed by a trust board, Film Bay of Plenty receives funding from the region’s local councils and from community and consumer trusts. The organisation regularly runs networking events and workshops across the region, sends out regular newsletters, has over 1300 members on Facebook,1070 in Instagram, and is now helping drive the development of a large film studio facility for the Bay. “Hey Auckland, feel the rumble.”


So from humble beginnings has grown something that’s having a very positive effect on our local screen industry and the wider community. It’s been a privilege to be a part of that growth and thank you for supporting it too. I know Film Bay of Plenty is in good hands and the future is bright.

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