Today, the Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand is thrilled to announce the seven female directors selected for the Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator 2022.

They are Mary-Lyn Chambers, Mīria George, Jolin Lee, Magnolia Lowe, Mia Maramara, Fiona McKenzie and Alison Titulaer.

Now in its sixth year and thanks to ongoing support from Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commision and the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society (ASDACS), the Incubator aims to support each talented participant to advance their careers and projects. The programme brings the directors together for five workshops across the year to connect with each other and hear from established screen industry practitioners working in New Zealand and abroad.

We look forward to seeing the participants at our first workshop in May, and extend our thanks to every director who applied.

About the Participants

MARY-LYN CHAMBERS was born in Fiji and raised in Nauru and Aotearoa. She has worked in Los Angeles, London and Doha and is known for narrative stories about inequality in mixed languages. She spent a decade working at the Spirit Awards and the LA Film Festival. She is a directing Fellow from the Sony Pictures Television Diverse Directors Program, Film Independent, and the Alliance of Women Directors.

Prior projects include Karanga, a collaboration with choreographer Merenia Gray funded by CNZ and screened on Sky TV. Her Imagen Award-nominated pilot Tijuana screened at Slamdance, Bentonville, HollyShorts and Content London. Plural of Blood won Best TV Pilot at the 2018 Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival. Debris participated in the UN’s Refugee Voices in Film Conference at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Mary-Lyn is known for hiring women and minorities.

MĪRIA GEORGE (Ngāti Kearoa, Ngāti Tuara; Tumutevarovaro, Enuamanu, Kuki ‘Āirani) is a playwright, screenwriter and a director and producer of theatre and film. The portmanteau feature film VAI (Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions) premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019, and marked Mīria’s debut as a writer and director of film.

Originally a live performance installation, Mīria wrote and directed the award-winning short film fire in the water, fire in the sky (Tawata Productions) that premiered at HIFF and screened at NZIFF in 2021. fire in the water, fire in the sky was awarded Special Recognition for Cinematography at the NZIFF. The film will continue to screen around the world in 2022.

Mīria has also created and directed digital content including Big Hair, Don’t Care, a web-series that documents conversations with Māori, Pasifika and Women of Colour artists of theatre and film; and is producing the 15-part series Ahi Kā for the online platform Moana Nui.

JOLIN LEE is an emerging writer/director of Singaporean-Chinese heritage based in Tāmaki Makaurau. She has been working in Aotearoa’s screen industry for the past six years after pivoting from her journalism roots in 2015, directing a number of music videos and short films. Her short film Ur Dead To Me was selected for the Palm Springs Shortfest in 2018.

Jolin also works prolifically in Tāmaki’s commercial industry as a writer and editor, and has found success in this space, going on to work on some of Aotearoa’s best ad campaigns, from the viral Keep it Real Online campaign and educational web series The Eggplant for the Dept. of Internal Affairs, to the widely celebrated Proud to be Māori campaign for Te Whānau o Waipareira. Jolin is also a Creative and Head of Post Production at award-winning Auckland Agency Motion Sickness.

MAGNOLIA LOWE is an award-winning film-maker who is passionate about storytelling. She has a background in directing commercials and is the principal at Magpie Content Creation.

Magnolia’s Newsroom documentary series Water gained official selection in four international film festivals. The series was an award finalist for best direction in the NZ Web Fest, and was best documentary finalist in die Seriale, the Oregon short film festival and the Oregon documentary film festival. She is currently working on her first feature documentary, In the Subduction Zone.

Previous documentaries include Mapping the Messiness, which follows Australian graduate teachers and US and them, a short documentary about the other side of US-Mexico border migration, featuring stories of Americans who left the US to live in Mexico in 1999. Magnolia has also previously written for The Conversation and has co-authored an academic article about documentary film-making as a research method.

MIA MARAMARA is a Filipino-born filmmaker with work that has screened both locally and internationally. Her passion for authentic, trailblazing stories has led her to wear different hats in the industry, most notably as a writer, director, and producer.

In 2021, she wrote and directed Albularyo (Beyond the Veil) for TVNZ OnDemand and TV2, which earned the distinction of being the first Filipino-led drama on New Zealand TV. She also recently directed the short animated documentary Only Human as part of the Loading Docs initiative.

Mia has received funding from the New Zealand Film Commission, New Zealand On Air, Creative New Zealand, and the New Zealand Writers Guild Seed Fund. She has participated in the Fresh Shorts Lab and the Aotearoa Short Film Lab.

In the Philippines, she trained under award-winning producer Bianca Balbuena and worked as a production assistant on Pepe Diokno’s film Above the Clouds.

FIONA MCKENZIE, after gaining her degree, began work with TVNZ in Dunedin, writing and field directing for the children’s department. After her OE and time as a regional TV journalist, she moved to Auckland in 1995 and trained as a Drama Director with South Pacific Pictures. As a freelancer in the late 90’s she directed a variety of programmes and genres including documentary, drama, multi-cam and sketch comedy.

In 1998 her first child was born, with significant disabilities, so work took a back seat and she and her family moved back to rural South Island, from where she continued to make films for galleries, museums, disability groups and other clients.

In 2019/20 she wrote and directed her first narrative short film, Peninsula, which premiered at Tribeca (New York) in June 2021, won its section at Bengaluru and played at Aesthetica and NZIFF that same year.

ALISON TITULAER started in the film and TV industry in front of the camera, studying acting in Auckland, New York, and Vancouver, while gathering experience in the many facets of production by working a variety of crew roles. Learning what makes a great script and an honest performance, Alison naturally switched to the other side of the camera.

She has written and directed several short films, and received the Gaylene Preston WIFT Best Female Director award at the 2018 48 Hour National Finals. Her NZFC Fresh Short funded film, Stella, is embarking on its international festival run, and she is developing her first feature.

Alison freelances as a creative producer and director of commercial content and is one half of the production company Citizen Creative. She lives on the Coromandel Peninsula, is step-mum to 9-year-old Ophelia, and mum to 4-month-old Xavier.


Made possible with the financial support of

NZFC

ASDACS logo

I’ve been around on this planet for quite a while now and I’ve never experienced a crazier time.

Uncertainty seems to be the biggest challenge, at a personal, work and global level, whether it’s war, climate change, the future of the New Zealand screen industry, or just being able to connect with family and friends in person.

I have a hobby that keeps me sane, allows me to put worries aside and just focus on something that both fully occupies my mind and gives me joy… for a while.

There is one thing that seems pretty certain though, and that is that we are going to be living with COVID. Numerous friends and colleagues have come down with it. I fortunately have not so far. Nor has anybody else at the Guild.

After a long period of online engagement, we are shifting our strategy around workshops, just as the Government is also changing the boundaries around events and gatherings. We’ll be holding them more regularly in person. We’ll use RAT tests as one means to help minimise spread, and stay abreast of COVID developments so that we can readjust rapidly again if necessary.

The NZFC is also looking to re-engage with the world in a shift to a new normal. They will people an office at the Cannes Film Festival and Market this May following a three-year ban on international travel. As well, NZFC CEO David Strong and some staff will take a marketing mission to LA shortly to leverage off the success of Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog, seeking to attract more international production to New Zealand.

The attractiveness of New Zealand to international productions relies in large part on the New Zealand Screen Production Grant incentive. And that incentive along with all other Government investment in the screen sector is up for review as I wrote about last newsletter. Please speak up when the times comes, so that Government hears your views.

Both international and domestic productions in New Zealand are now accustomed to living with COVID. Testing, crew replacement for illness, temporary shutdowns and other adaptive measures are all part of screen production life here. Thankfully, a new round of screen production recovery funding from MCH has become available, so that many NZ productions have a fallback or financial guarantee for production to go ahead—that nagging uncertainty at least for a time, in abeyance.

Many other things on our plate at the Guild remain in various states of flux, however. The interminable delay of the Copyright Act Review continues. The on-again off-again nature of the Screen Industry Workers Bill is… on-again for present. The Reform of Vocational Education on the industry side has slowed down while Toi Mai, the new Workforce Development Council whose responsibility includes the screen sector, finds its feet.

One thing we can be sure of, though, the TVNZ – RNZ merger will go ahead… maybe.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 24 March 2022

DEGANZ member Curtis Vowell is currently directing Seize Them!, a British comedy financed by Entertainment Film Distributors, which will handle the UK and Ireland release. According to Collider, the movie has begun principal photography in London and will take six weeks to shoot in Kent and Wales.

Starring Amiee Lou Wood (Sex Education), Loffy Adefope (Shrills), Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz) and Nicola Coughlan (Bridgerton), the comedy is set in the dark ages and follows Queen Dagan as she is toppled by a revolution led by Humble Joan. Queen Dagan must face up to hardship and danger to win her kingdom back.

Curtis adds Seize Them! to his directorial filmography, alongside New Zealand movies Baby Done and micro-budget feature Fantail.

Last updated on 24 March 2022

Crime thriller short, MUNKIE, is having its online premiere at Short of the Week on March 25. Directed and edited by DEGANZ board member Steven Chow, MUNKIE follows a daughter’s violent plan of revenge against her overbearing parents as it spins out of control.

MUNKIE screened across the world at various film festivals such as Fantasia, Boston Underground, NZIFF and San Diego, where it won Audience Choice Short. The short film is finally arriving online and will be available on Short of the Week from 3am NZDT tomorrow. Check out the MUNKIE Instagram page for behind the scenes insights and more details.

Congratulations to Steven and the team behind MUNKIE.

Fightback – Joseph Parker, an intimate documentary on the Kiwi heavyweight boxer, is now streaming on NEON. Produced and directed by Leanne Pooley (DEGANZ) for DAZN Originals (UK), the film follows Parker as he prepares for his fight against Derek Chisora in 2021.

Leanne brings us a charming side of Parker, guaranteed to make you both laugh and cry. Watch as Parker navigates a new coach, new country and a new start.

Catch Fightback – Joseph Parker on NEON.

Last updated on 24 March 2022