'Taumanu'. (Photo: Ani Huia Ligaliga)

Sweetshop & Green will receive $50,000 to further its New Zealand production slate after being announced as the recipient of the New Zealand Film Commission’s He Ara Development Fund for 2021.

Delivered via the commission’s Te Rautaki Māori strategy, the initiative is designed to support Māori and/or Pacific Island filmmakers to create a diverse range of New Zealand content using their own way of working.

Sweetshop & Green is a New Zealand and Australian production company specialising in international co-productions, as well as developing and producing projects for identified global audiences.

Led by Sharlene George (Cook Islands Māori) in New Zealand and Gal Greenspan in Australia, the company is a new partnership between global commercial production company Sweetshop, and Israeli independent film production company Green Productions.

After starting its journey into film and television in October 2019, Sweetshop & Green has since built up a New Zealand slate made up of 90 per cent Māori and Pacific projects, working with a broad range of mostly wahine Māori writers and directors.

Last month, the company was awarded funding by NZ On Air and Te Māngai Paho to produce one of six episodes for TVNZ’s Supernatural Anthology series set to air in 2022.

Set in 1929 against the backdrop of colonial New Zealand, Taumanu is a 1 x 22-minute supernatural thriller episode, written and directed by Taratoa Stappard, which will begin shooting at the end of May 2021.

The episode will be produced by George, with Sweetshop & Green’s Rickylee Russell-Waipuka as associate producer and Nicola Smith as line producer.

George told IF the company had always been committed to encouraging cultural and gender diversity throughout all projects.

“From Sweetshop & Green’s inception, it has always been our focus to tell indigenous and diverse stories and bring these to the world screen,” she said.

“We’re honoured that New Zealand Film Commission has put its trust in us to do this.”

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