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Winner announced for Images & Sound’s ‘Geoff Evans Memorial Prize’.

Film, Television and Media Studies graduate Beyond Wen has won the annual Images and Sound ‘Geoff Evans Memorial Prize for Excellence in Screen Production’. His winning film The Education of Ming Ming is a comedy about an eight year old girl with an incredibly busy daily schedule supposed to help her achieve a “bright bright future”. Film-maker Beyond was inspired by some friends whose own childhood experiences were very similar to that of the main character Ming Ming’s.

“I had friends who would go to two or three after-school tutorials each day, then piano lessons and violin lessons and gymnastics and so on. I found it interesting because they felt so normal about these routines, and it was so different to my childhood where I just did whatever I wanted,” says Beyond.

The competition is open to University of Auckland Film, Television and Media Studies masters students in their final year, with finalists taken from the top echelon of these students. “The three finalist films were all of a very high calibre so the choice was difficult. We felt that The Education of Ming Ming stood out as unique, creative, entertaining, and had very well composed shots.

“As a post-production company, we are naturally looking for technical excellence, but this award is an opportunity for us to look beyond detail and embrace the creativity of the piece,” says Grant Baker, managing partner of Images and Sound.

Beyond wrote the script in 2008 knowing he wanted to direct the film himself. But it was not until 2011 at the beginning of his postgraduate studies that he felt the time was right to bring it to life. “The most difficult thing was getting the ball rolling. I initially faced a lot of challenges with respect to finances, getting the right actors, a producer, and locations, alongside a script that had a lot of set ups and scene changes. For a long time I was very doubtful whether I would complete the film. Taking time to put things in perspective enabled me to get on track, and once I started things just fell into place.

“This was my first film made with a professional crew, and at such a scale. It involved a two month pre-production period, five days for actual production and a month on postproduction. It was a fun and successful five day production period and six year old lead actress Cameron did an incredible job for her age and experience,” he says. The winner receives the use of post-production facilities at Images and Sound to the value of $7,500.

“It is an honour and very encouraging to receive the prize after having struggled to get this film started. I feel the film still has a lot of work to be done in terms of sound design and editing. Perhaps a better colour grade, and some work on subtitles and graphics to polish it up so that it’s truly festival-ready. I would like to dedicate as much of the prize to those aspects as possible,” he says.

Beyond has a master in Arts, majoring in Screen Production, and is currently on an English-teaching programme in Japan, teaching primary and intermediate school children. He says hanging out with Cameron during the making of The Education of Ming Ming, he realised that he really enjoyed spending time with children and found it very inspiring.

The Geoff Evans Memorial Prize was established five years ago in association with The University of Auckland’s Film, Television and Media Studies department, following the death of Geoff Evans, one of the founders of Images & Sound. Professor Annie Goldson, currently Director of the Graduate Screen Programme, a two-year Film School which is run through the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies, warmly congratulates Beyond.

“Ming Ming is another stunning film to come out of our programme, and the award will allow Beyond to ‘polish’ the final film at Images, definitely our favourite post-production facility. I imagine the film will now have a healthy international film festival life and will assist Beyond in developing new and similarly exciting projects,” she says.

The Screen Production programme offers majors in directing drama, directing documentary, screenwriting and has just has introduced a new Producing strand in association with the Business School at the University of Auckland.

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