Virtual film-tech start-up looks to empower local creatives to produce indigenous-driven stories in big world settings.
The Granary is a local film-tech production company utilising technology to empower local creatives to develop high-concept Indigenous-driven stories on a budget.
The Wellington-based creative duo is on a mission to get more of New Zealand’s indigenous stories told on the big screen.
Husband-and-wife team Amber Marie Naveira (Tainui) and Victor Naveira are utilising technology to help local creatives realise projects on modest budgets.
The film-tech start-up was selected to participate in Kōkiri 2021, the national kaupapa Māori business accelerator programme run by Te Wānanga of Aotearoa from its business and innovation hub, Te Ahikōmako – Centre of Māori Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
The former Miramar and Weta Workshop workers started their own production company, The Granary, a couple of years ago and then Covid-19 hit. “Things didn’t really go as planned,” Victor said.
“We were looking at what we were going to do, how we were going to pivot… The Mandalorian TV series was released on streaming service Disney + and we were watching it thinking, we could re-create this system.”
Victor and Amber Marie got to work to create a working system and tested it in their living room to recreate a scene from The Mandalorian using their 4K TV.
The duo then pleaded with Wellington events company, Streamliner, to let them borrow some LED screens.
“We spent two weeks making 10 different environments in a space at Avalon Studios to show how our approach could make virtual production more affordable and accessible,” Victor said.
Virtual production is an umbrella term that covers technology that enables real time feedback and iteration on set. It allows film makers to go from ideation to completed project much quicker, saving time and decreasing costs.
The technology is available, but it is expensive and complicated. “It’s only affordable and accessible to the large film studios like Disney, Universal, and Amazon,” Victor said.
“There isn’t that level of budget in New Zealand in the film industry. What we want to do is build technology that enables local film producers to make a $2m film look like $50m. If you look at what makes a successful film in the box office, it’s the visual effects (VFX).”
The Granary are backed with pre-seed funding from Kokiri sponsor and VC investor Hillfarrance, led by Rob Vickery. Vickery is an experienced United States venture capitalist who is helping them prepare for the first round of raising seed funding.
Amber Marie Naveira (Waikato-Tainui) and her husband Victor Naveira along with Riana Rose Leef are the founders of The Granary.
Amber Marie Naveira
The Māori kaupapa-based approach of the Kōkiri 12-week programme helped the duo narrow in on their values and make it a part of their business. “We had already completed an incubator programme that focused on our business model but it did not challenge us to align the business with our values,” Victor said.
“We had been told we were ready to go to market, but we felt like there were things we wanted to learn to make our business sustainable. The people-focused, nurturing environment of Kōkiri gave us that.”
The sequenced structure of the programme presented the team with opportunities to work with a number of quality coaches, advisors, and mentors. “[Programme Director] Aubrey Te Kanawa’s guidance and wealth of knowledge was an invaluable source of support. Local TedX Talk coach, Chris Hanlon also helped us develop our pitching skills to communicate our story,” Victor said.