Tag Archive for: animation

The International Federation of Film Producers Association (FIAPF) and Women in Animation (WIA) have selected DEGANZ member, Hweiling Ow (2021 Incubator), to participate in the second edition of the Stories x Women program for her new animated project, The Golden Pig.

The program works to increase diversity within animation globally, providing support and international opportunities for women animators from emerging film and animation communities from Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific. FIAPF and WIA are particularly interested in uplifting creatives who want to tell authentic and unique stories.

Sponsored by the Walt Disney Company with additional support from Sony Pictures Entertainment, participants will receive mentorship and one-on-one coaching sessions from internationally acclaimed animation experts. The course will prepare the delegates to pitch their project at the Annecy International Animation Festival and Market (MIFA) later this year.

This selection follows the release of Hweiling’s 3D animated short, Cheng Beng, earlier this year. The short was made as part of the Unreal Engine Short Film Challenge in 2022.

Congratulations to Hweiling on the exciting opportunity!

I was born curious and enjoy figuring out how things work, which is essentially what I still do today as a director.

I drew a lot as a kid and wrote and illustrated comics at school. Art was always my focus, so it seemed like a natural progression to go to art school. I did a first-year foundation course and hated it, so I continued illustrating and started a freelance career to make money doing what I loved. I tried a few other things along the way, like animation, which seemed like another logical step (taking still images and making them move).

While looking for illustration work in advertising, I was offered a trial as a junior creative. I was curious, so I accepted and was hired after three months. I didn’t realise how lucky I was at the time. This job was a turning point for me creatively – advertising taught me to interrogate my ideas, and I started working with directors. I’d write a script and was able to observe them make it, which I found fascinating. I thought directing was something else I wanted to try, and I asked a director I connected with if I could help them out in any way to learn more. They said, “If you really want to direct – then direct”.

I wasn’t sure how to take that first step, but when a band I was playing in received an NZ on Air video grant, I put my hand up to make it. I instantly fell in love with the process of taking an idea from my head to the screen. This is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life (a fortunate realisation at the age of 22). The music video was nominated for an award, and I quit advertising (my first and last full-time job). I went back to the freelance world – this time as a director.

The next few videos I made all involved aspects of animation, but eventually, I fell in love with the immediacy of film. I was repped by Fish n’ Clips, a division of Flying Fish films. I wanted to make a living from music videos, but the NZ scene had never been sustainable. Through the music videos I’d made, my advertising connections, and the help of Flying Fish, I started making commercials to save for a trip to London.

Director Wade Shotter on set for Mint Chicks music video ‘Post No Bills’ / Photos: provided

In the five years I worked in London, the bottom fell out of the industry (they blamed downloading). But due to the work I’d done there, I was lucky enough to win some great NZ commercial work, which kickstarted my commercial career worldwide.

I moved back to NZ and eventually joined FINCH, an inspiring Australian-owned film production company. Making commercials has supported me in branching out into other realms, like shorts and a tv series I’m developing. I’m still trying new things, ticking boxes, and having realisations.

Wade on set of his short film ‘I Will Not Write Unless I am Swaddled in Furs’ / Photographer: Thian Benton-Fieulaine

Being a director is a constant challenge. In an over-saturated industry, there’s a never-ending balance between being true to yourself and being relevant. I’ve sacrificed a lot, and there were several stretches of unemployment. But there have also been some amazing rewards that made it all worthwhile.

There’s no ‘right’ way to become a director. You can come at it from any angle, and you will succeed if you’re passionate enough and stick at it. I never went to film school, although when I think back – I’ve always had a deep love of film that was omnipresent throughout my life. I’d forgotten that I used to animate flip book stick men, make Lego-men films with my friend on his dad’s Betacam, and although I almost failed art school, I got an A+ in the subsidiary filmmaking course. For me, everything was pointing towards filmmaking.

Wade’s Self Portrait / Photo: provided

Everything you experience will make you the director you are. I developed an eye for composition and light through illustration, a sense of tone, emotion, pacing and energy through composing and performing music, and learned to hone my ideas and storytelling through advertising.

Nobody will make your project for you. You must take the first step and the last. But it’s also never been easier to make something and put it out there. So be a sponge, find collaborators, never get too comfortable, and stay curious.

About Wade Shotter

Wade Shotter’s origins are in illustration, where he worked on children’s books and created eight comics. From pen and paper, he moved to animation, where he worked with Disney for a stint in traditional 2D animation. Since shifting gears to film, he has directed his short film, music videos for various bands, and commercials for clients such as Fire & Emergency NZ, BNZ, Uber, Qantas, and more. He continues to play with form through his work and is drawn to deeply cinematic and visually expressive styles that engage and surprise. Currently, he is developing a pilot script for a television series.

How I Got Started in the Industry is a guest blog series from the Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand (DEGANZ). Our members reflect on how they made their way into assistant editing, editing, and directing—with no two stories the same. They offer advice for those starting out. Get in touch with admin@deganz.co.nz if you’re a member and would like to share your story.

DEGANZ member and Incubator 2021 Alum Hweiling Ow‘s heartwarming 3D animated short, Cheng Beng, is available to watch online now! On the team, fellow member Léah McVeagh produced alongside Executive Producers Hweiling and Morgan Leigh Stewart.

The film was made as part of the Unreal Engine Short Film Challenge, where teams were given just eight weeks to produce their finished shorts using the Unreal Engine 5 software. The challenge also included two weeks of training with the software, showing them how to incorporate it into the animation workflow.

Cheng Beng follows the efforts of a lonely man in the afterlife as he tries to communicate with his family on Earth through the Taoist ritual of zhi-zha. While his family means well by offering him material goods each year, he must find a way to tell them what he truly desires – a dog to keep him company. This film explores Chinese tradition and afterlife through its narrative and use of animation to visually inform the world.

Watch Cheng Beng now.

Multiple DEGANZ members’ projects are heading to Māoriland this year!

Jaimee Poipoi (DEGANZ) has two films selected for Te Ao Pohewa, a children’s programme that caters to dreams and playfulness. Her animated shorts, Star Sailors and Who Sneezed, both centre on Philly Whakaaro’s adventures with her friends. In Star Sailors, Philly and Agent Star Shine take on an early morning adventure when an alien lands in her backyard; in Who Sneezed, no idea is too big or small for Philly when she and Elephant debate the universe’s origins during a tea party.

The Brylcreem Boys, edited by DEGANZ board member Te Rurehe Paki, will screen in the Ka Wai Hono programme. This programme features stories of whakapapa, culture, love, and experience. The short follows Kara, who finds herself in the audience of her Uncle’s band from the 60s when he falls ill and realises that she’s been sent back to fulfil his wish to find out what happened to ‘the one that got away’.

Kainga will show as a featured film in the Memorial Hall on March 17. The anthology navigates the thorny terrains of home, diaspora, and community through the lens of eight female Pan-Asian stories set in a single house in Aotearoa. DEGANZ members Michelle AngGhazaleh GolbakhshJulie Zhu, and Nahyeon Lee each directed one of the eight stories. Incubator alum Nahyeon, Ghazaleh, and Mia Maramara wrote for the project as well.

We are thrilled for more of our members’ mahi to be showcased and shared with more audiences.

Member Hweiling Ow’s and Peter Haynes’ animation Cheng Beng has received funding from the Unreal Engine Real-Time Short Film Challenge! Unreal Engine selected the project, alongside another film project from Australia, out of a short list of six others.

Unreal Engine is a 3D computer graphics engine developed by Epic Games. It hosted its inaugural film challenge in 2020. As part of the challenge, applicants receive free online animation training with the software and create pitches for their shorts. Winners (two teams from NZ, four from AUS) then secure funding and the opportunity to showcase their projects to major studio content development executives.

While a great opportunity, the challenge is rigorous as the funded projects only have eight weeks to produce their finished shorts.

Hweiling (Incubator 2021), a producer, director and actor, teamed up with Peter Haynes, who spent lockdown mastering the Unreal Engine software. Fellow DEGANZ member Léah McVeagh is producing the project with executive producer Morgan Leigh Stewart.

Cheng Beng follows the efforts of a lonely man in the afterlife as he communicates with his family on Earth through the Taoist ritual of zhi-zha. While his family continuously offers him material goods, all he truly desires is a dog to keep him company. This film explores Chinese tradition and afterlife through the narrative and its use of animation to visually inform the world.

The team has just completed the film’s voiceovers, including Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien and English.

Keep an eye on the MHM production Facebook and Instagram for updates on the project!