Storytelling for Our Own People: A Reflection on Working with Māori Filmmaker Barry Barclay


  • Christina Milligan Auckland University of Technology



Māori film director and writer Barry Barclay is recognized among international indigenous filmmakers as a foundational figure.   As a philosopher and a filmmaker, he was fierce in pursuit of what he saw to be tika, that which is true, upright and just.   He worked in an often expensive, always collaborative medium, and his unwillingness to compromise was sometimes seen as intransigence.   He was thus frequently at odds, not just with mainstream film funders and distributors, but also with some of his compatriots in the world of Māori filmmaking.    Yet from my perspective as a producer working with him late in his career, the process of developing a screenplay with him was a constructive, deeply creative experience where disagreements were always focused on enhancing the work itself. While he is best known as a film director, this article is a practice-led exploration of his work as a screenwriter as revealed through two film scripts we worked on in the years between 1995 and 2007.    It discusses his process as a screenwriter on these films, exploring his strengths as a writer while also placing these two projects within the wider frame of his complete oeuvre.

Author Biography

Christina Milligan, Auckland University of Technology

Film producer, screenwriter and lecturer, AUT