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The University of Otago and New Zealand Writers Guild are co-hosting the four-day Screenwriting Research Network International Conference in Dunedin.
The conference was launched at the Te Tumu events hall on the university’s campus yesterday.
Conference co-organiser Allan Baddock, of Dunedin, likened getting a screenplay turned into a feature film to winning a gold medal at the Olympics.
"You have to effectively win three or four gold medals a year in order to earn a decent living. That is what we are up against and there’s only a handful of people who can make a decent living in New Zealand as screenwriters at the moment, because there is not the continuity of work."
Mr Baddock, a New Zealand Writers Guild member, said the more than 140 delegates at the conference included 66 screenwriters from overseas, including from Italy and the United Arab Emirates.
The strong representation of New Zealand screenwriters at the conference was "radical" because the conference traditionally focused on academics and their research.
New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Dave Gibson, the keynote speaker at the launch, yesterday talked of the issues and opportunities in the feature film industry.
The speech included the "growth potential" in screenwriting for new technology, such as altered reality and virtual reality platforms.
University of Otago media, film and communication senior lecturer Dr Davinia Thornley said the annual conference was held in a different country each year and it was the first time it had been in New Zealand.
The conference would be held in Italy next year.