Close-up: Interview with Poppy and Cianna – Interns for New Zealand International Film Festival

If you don’t know them already, let me introduce you to Cianna Canning and Poppy Granger, interns for New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF). Both are young passionate women determined to enter the film industry more than ever! They tell me about their love for cinema, their experience at the NZIFF and  Kiwi popcorn.

Where does your love for cinema come from?

Cianna Canning: I used to be very involved in photography and my love for all things film-related developed on from that. There’s nowhere I would rather be than sat in a cinema eagerly awaiting a film screening to begin (popcorn optional). [Editor’s note: However, Cianna can’t eat the cinema popcorn here as it has butter in the powder they add to it, big deception! Maybe some nuts instead?]

Poppy Granger: I think my love for cinema, especially international cinema, comes from when I was living and traveling throughout Europe when I was 18. I fell in love with European cinema. Then, I went on to study it at University—which only made my passion grow!

Why did you choose to work for the New Zealand International Film Festival?

Poppy & Cianna: It’s a very popular film festival in New Zealand!

Poppy: I did a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Film in Auckland. I volunteered for the NZIFF there for a couple of years. Then, when I moved back to Palmerston North, I was like: I can’t think of anything better than applying to intern for the festival. The post was initially opened to international students first but but this changed a couple of years ago so I applied and got it!

Cianna: That’s right. I’m originally from Brighton, England. I’ve been involved in events for quite a few years and used this as a route into the film industry. Then, as I was planning to go to New Zealand anyway, I decided to try to get into the film industry here. I read about the internships online last summer, applied in December, and came to New Zealand a week before the internship started this May. Exciting!

Talking about your experience in the Wellington NZIFF office, what it is like working there?

Cianna: It’s so intimate, we have weekly staff meetings everyone partakes in. Bill [Gosden, the director of the NZIFF] is down-to-earth and funny. It’s amazing to work with him.

Poppy: It’s a very good office. Even if  I was a bit intimidated at first. They are all like-minded people and there have been heaps of laughs. With only a few hours to go before the launch of NZIFF Wellington, everyone remains cool, calm and collected.

How would you describe your daily work at the office?

Cianna: I’m based mostly in the outreach department which involves contacting schools and organisations, making posters and finding ways to build audiences for films.

Poppy: And I do publicity. Contacting media, setting up interviews etc.

Poppy & Cianna: But generally we just help out wherever it’s needed: management department, online content, social media etc. It’s very varied. They try to give us an insight into each department which is fascinating!

What will be your role during the festival?

Cianna & Poppy: Pushing films, setting up give-aways, finding media coverage, and much more!

Do you feel there’s any difference between working for  NZIFF and and a European festival?

Cianna: NZIFF is national but it seems more similar to smaller-scale film festivals in Europe in some respects such as the amount of staff. It’s a more enjoyable experience as you’re working in the same office as the festival director and manager, for example, whereas in other larger festivals, you might not really see them!

Poppy:I have never worked at a European Festival, but I imagine it is a lot more elite and harder to get your foot in the door. Here, I feel like everyone is very open to taking on new people. However, I know there are always voluntary roles and internships that come up in Europe.

How would you sum up your experience as an intern for NZIFF?

Cianna: I have loved every minute of interning for NZIFF. No two days are the same and the in-depth insight I’ve got into what putting an international film festival together entails is invaluable.

Poppy: My experience of being an intern has just reiterated how much I want to work in the film industry really! Not that I doubted it before, but sometimes it’s hard in such a small country—it can be quite competitive to find work. But when you meet people every day who are also as passionate as you are, it motivates you.

So, do you think this experience will open up other opportunities in the film industry in NZ? For example, what would you love to do?

Poppy: We were both talking about this when we first met. Documentary making for me, but I will probably go back and do more study, possibly my masters.

Cianna: I love both film exhibition and film directing/producing. They are two different worlds, it depends what opportunities come up!

To end: have you got any movie projects that you’d like to share with us?

Poppy: A friend and I run Coexist. We talk to local artists in our community, in Palmerston North. We discuss their experience and how their environment influences their work. We record them, but that’s really relaxed, it’s still at the grass roots. At the moment, we just lack time. So we’re just wanting to build up our content, we’ll launch our Facebook Page. I hope it would end up like “everyone is going to Palmy for a week-end”!


Cianna: I reviewed some films on YouTube with a friend when I was still in living in England. We made them informative but comical and wore costumes to put a spin on reviewing. We uploaded them under a pseudonym so it was kind of an experiment to see who would stumble across our videos. Funnily enough, the one that had the most views was about a film that was shot in Wellington, What We Do in the Shadows by Taika Waititi.  I’m now trying to find a new reviewing buddy!

=> To all cinema lovers, take your chance to become Cianna’s next reviewing buddy!

Thank you Cianna and Poppy, I wish you both a great career in the cinema industry and I’m sure I’ll cross path with you during NZIFF.

 If you’re curious about the films they are both looking forward to see, take a look at their picks!:

Interview by Sally Welly

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