Tag Archive for: incubator alum

After the Party is out now on TVNZ+, with new episodes releasing each week. DEGANZ member and Incubator alum, Stella Reid, worked on the show through a Director’s Attachment.

Stella joined director Peter Salmon through pre-production, shooting, and parts of post-production as an active observer. She shared,

I saw this opportunity as an investment in my career. I aim to shoot long form content, so it was invaluable to witness Peter’s methodology — well paced and technically proficient. He could balance an economy of coverage by envisioning the edit while shooting.

As production got busier, Stella was entrusted to direct and shoot supplementary content with a splinter unit. She told DEGANZ how grateful she was that the attachment also allowed for hands-on experiences and the opportunity to work with that team.

In addition to the professional development side of the attachment, Stella was also drawn to the show itself. Set in Wellington, the gritty drama series follows Penny, played by Robyn Malcolm, after she accuses her husband of assaulting her teen daughter’s friend at a party. Years later after the accusation, people still don’t believe her and she struggles to keep her life together. She said,

Many aspects of the story pulled me in. I’m writing a feature with two older female characters, and I’m also a lifelong Wellingtonian. I find such beauty in the south coast, and am pleased to see it be a character in the show.

Congratulations to Stella for completing the attachment! It’s always great to hear what members get out of DEGANZ’s talent programmes.

This DEGANZ Director’s Attachments was funded by New Zealand on Air and the New Zealand Film Commission.

Script to Screen announced the 2024/23 FilmUp participants, with five of the eight being DEGANZ members. Writer/directors Pulkit Arora, Ella Gilbert (Incubator 2023), Maza White, and Harry Wynn, with 2019 Incubator alum Anna Rose Duckworth, will partake in the six-month professional development and mentorship programme.

FilmUp aims to aid filmmakers in taking the next step in their careers. Through the programme, participants are paired with an industry mentor to receive support for their feature film projects, currently in development. They will also attend three FilmUp Hubs, which include round tables, group workshops, and guest speakers.

Check out the DEGANZ members’ projects and bios below, or see the complete list of participants here.

Pulkit Arora

Soft – Feature Film

Ella Gilbert (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Kaipoho, Ngāti Kahungunu)

The Desert Road – Feature Film

Ella is an actor, acting coach, and filmmaker from Pukerua Bay. She is committed to making movies that centre on women and celebrate everyday people in Aotearoa. Ella discovered the joys of creating her own work whilst studying at Toi Whakaari. This year, she was selected for DEGANZ’s Emerging Women Directors Incubator and the Write Room Wellington, through which she completed draft one of her debut feature screenplay, The Desert Road. She was also the Director’s Attachment for Rob Sarkie on his feature film, PIKE. In 2022, her short film Mary Mary (funded by Someday Stories) was selected for the Clermont-Ferrand Festival (Short Film Market Picks 2023) and The Sydney Women’s International Film Festival. Her previous films, made on Super8mm, have screened and successfully competed in London, Portugal, Mumbai and Aotearoa.

Maza White

Ruptured – Feature Film

Maza is a writer and director with a rich multicultural perspective, weaving impactful storytelling into diverse narratives. Whether through comedy or drama, Maza draws from her personal experiences to shed light on poignant issues, focusing on those affecting women of colour. Originally from Iran, she earned First Class Honours for her Master’s in Creative Writing from AUT. Her NZFC-funded short film Daughter of God recently secured the Best Screenplay award at the Show Me Shorts Festival and was selected as one of six for NZIFF’s New Zealand’s Best. Currently managing a full writing slate alongside her commissioned TV writing contracts, she is deeply immersed in the development of multiple feature films and TV series across different genres, with the aim of directing some of these projects.

Harry Wynn

Zyzz (Working Title) – Feature Documentary

Harry is a filmmaker from Tāmaki Makaurau. His filmmaking journey began with the documentary Three Ticks Chlöe, produced by The Spinoff and Wrestler, about ChlöeSwarbrick’ss campaign for Auckland Central and the Cannabis Referendum. Young & Hooked on Chemsex, his second documentary, shed light on Auckland’s hidden world of methamphetamine-driven ” party and play’’ scenes. His third documentary, Shred, explored the teen bodybuilding community and the growing issue of ‘bigorexia’’ illuminating a global trend fuelled by platforms such as TikTok. Additionally, TVNZ has picked up Harry’s original concept docu-series, We’ve Always Been Here, which highlights Aotearoa’s queer history through comedy. He is currently developing a feature-length documentary focused on the world-famous bodybuilder and social media star Zyzz, with the support of development funding from Screen Australia.

Anna Rose Duckworth

Put a Baby in Me – Feature Film

Anna has worked in film and television for a decade, both in NYC and Auckland. She adds a distinctly Kiwi sense of humour and explores taboo or challenging themes. Anna has written and directed several short films, including NZFC-funded Pain – screened as part of 2020NZIFF’ssNZ’ss Best Programme, and has gone on to be selected at over 30 international festivals. Anna has also written and directed several self-funded short films: Full V (2021), selected for the Aesthetica Film Festival, and Mum Jeans, which screened at NZIFF 2018. Directing the comedy web series Psusy S2, she won the Best Episodic Jury Prize at the 2018 LA Film Festival. Off the back ofPsusy’ss success, she wrote and directed TVNZ-funded comedy web series Butt Dial. Recent highlights include being awarded an NZWG Seed Grant to develop the feature Put a Baby in Me about queer motherhood and winning the People’s Choice Award for her rom-com short Just Kidding I Actually Love You at Show Me Shorts 2023.

Down Under Berlin in Germany is showcasing several members’ hard work – some as festival veterans and others celebrating premieres! The festival is Europe’s leading festival for Australian and Kiwi films, screening a wide range of productions from indie films to student projects to blockbusters.


Millie Lies Low, edited by Dan Kircher (DEGANZ), is the festival’s opening night special with a Q&A with Incubator alum Michelle Savill (Incubator 2018). The feature follows anxious Millie in the aftermath of impulsively abandoning her place in a prestigious internship in New York.

Anthology feature Kāinga is having its German premiere at the festival. Featuring eight unique Pan-Asian stories all set in the same house across several decades, the film chronicles the diverse and ever-changing experiences of Asians trying to make Aotearoa New Zealand their home. DEGANZ members Michelle Ang (Incubator 2020), Ghazaleh Golbaksh (Incubator 2021), Julie Zhu, and Nahyeon Lee (Incubator 2021) each directed one of the eight stories. Fellow member Mia Maramara (Incubator 2022) was a writer on the project along with Ghazaleh and Nahyeon.

Red, White & Brass, co-edited by Ben Powdrell (DEGANZ) is screening as the festival’s Focus on Aotearoa event. The film is a celebration of Tongan pride, sharing māfana and good vibes. When Maka and Veni fail to snag tickets to the most important game of their lives, they decide to form a traditional Tongan marching band, just to get in. The only problem is they have no band, no instruments…and no idea.


Shorts films are also getting their screen time in the festival’s shorts programme.

Member Rafa Yam‘s debut short For Thom is opening the programme. It follows an isolated teenage girl suffering from suicidal thoughts and depression as she tries reconnecting with her best friend Milly in an attempt to fix her fragile mental state.

Award-winning Perianayaki, edited by Shailesh Prajapati (DEGANZ), is continuing its successful festival run. A recent Sri Lankan immigrant, 56-year-old Perianayaki, begins another day at her job stacking shelves at the local supermarket. With her limited grasp of English, she struggles to fit in and understand or be understood by colleagues and customers alike. Today, on her wedding anniversary, Perianayaki is forced to reconcile with the bittersweet realities of her life.


Well done to all members involved in the selected films!

Season 4 of the beloved Netflix series Sex Education is out now, with two of the eight episodes directed by 2018 Incubator alum Michelle Savill.

The show is known for being awkwardly hilarious, following the lives of the students, staff, and parents of an English secondary school. As the name implies, the show isn’t one to shy away from taboo topics. One of the show’s ongoing plots is the main character Otis’s involvement in an underground sex clinic for his peers.

However, Michelle’s episodes this season dive into darker themes of death, grieving, and postpartum depression. As the series comes to a close, with season four being the show’s finale, the characters and their relationships face their biggest challenges yet. Despite the heavier drama, Michelle’s episodes still balance the comedy just right, covering more sexually awkward topics.

In an interview with Stuff earlier this year, Michelle talked about how ending Sex Education will be bittersweet. She shared,

It’s been such a great project. I’ve loved everyone I’ve worked with. On every film or TV show you become a family and then the project ends and you will leave and there is a sense of sadness because you will never be together like that again. But it’s nice to move on and catch up on sleep and spend time with your family – and release what you’ve made into the world.

You can catch Sex Education on Netflix now.

This year’s Show Me Shorts, Aotearoa’s leading international short film festival, is chock full of DEGANZ members’ mahi!

Check this complete list to see which programmes their films are screening in and make sure to book your seats for your local screenings from 6-29 October.

The Sampler Programme

Described as some of the top short films from this year’s festival selection. This collection is designed to entertain, delight, and show off rising filmmaking talent in Aotearoa and abroad.

Just Kidding, I Actually Love You

A runaway fiancée breaks in to execute an ill-advised romantic gesture and finds evidence her ex is happier without her.

Writer/Director: Anna Rose Duckworth (Incubator 2019)

* Nominated for Best Screenplay

Whānau Friendly 1 Programme

This collection aims to ignite a love of cinema in our tamariki. Best suited for ages 7-12 years old, these shorts are fun for children and their families to enjoy together.

The Polycees

After a run-in with his slimy deputy, the Prime Minister’s young daughter is shocked to find a magical creature living in Parliament under her Dad’s desk!

Writer/Director/Producer/Editor: Celia Jaspers

Crime Spree Programme

The festival brings you to the edge of your seat with this collection of criminal acts caught on screen.

Day Job

The daily grind of the nine-to-five breeds a murderous intent in this music video from Soft Plastics.

Director: Stella Reid (Incubator 2020)

When The Spirit Takes Flight Programme

This collection of shorts hones into out of this world characters, searching for the answers that will inspire them to improve their lives and reconcile their losses.


17-year-old Mako has the mental age of a small child; when he realises his father is ashamed of him he goes all out to make him proud, succeeding in the most unexpected way.

Producer: April Phillips

Aotearoa Te Ōhākī Programme

Themed around Te Ao Māori concept of Te Ōhākī (meaning cultural and identity reclamation), these shorts tell the stories of people from many different cultures who are feeling displaced or disconnected and seeking their place in the world.

Buttons and Dumplings

The heartwarming migration story of a Chinese family, takeaway food, mahjong, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Directors: Calvin Sang and Mei Ling Lee

* Nominated for Department of Post Best New Zealand Film


When a recent widow moves to New Zealand from India, she’s forced to confront her grief by completing an ordinary ritual in an extraordinary circumstance: quarantine.

Writer/Director: Pulkit Arora

Editor: Jolin Lee (Incubator 2022)

* Nominated for Toi Whakaari Best Actor, DEGANZ Best Director, and Department of Post Best New Zealand Film

Lǎo Lao Lǎo Le

A young boy is left home alone with his increasingly unwell grandmother and is forced to come to terms with her deterioration.

Writer/Director/Producer: Julie Zhu

* Nominated for Toi Whakaari Best Actor, DEGANZ Best Director, and Department of Post Best New Zealand Film

Daughter of God

When an arranged marriage is sprung upon an Iranian-Kiwi daughter, she must either dishonour family tradition or lose the woman she loves.

Writer/Director: Maza White

* Nominated for Best Screenplay

What’s the Disabili-Tea: Misty Frequency

Drag icon Misty Frequency’s kaupapa is to celebrate autistic and takatāpui excellence. They are looking to storm the stage at the Drag Wars competition with a cash prize up for grabs.

Editor: Brendon Chan

Producer: Robyn Paterson

Women Rock the World Programme

Show Me Shorts invites audiences to step into the world of queens, dreamers, and vengeful angels. Wherever these women are stifled they will find a way to realise their goals.


This music video for Tami Neilson’s Kingmaker features a group of women, alive and powerful, rising from the ashes of the old colonial institutions that once oppressed them.

Director: Alyx Duncan

* Nominated for NZ on Air Best Music Video Award

Love Unconditional Programme

The bonds the characters in these stories share run deep, despite some testing times. This programme leaves audiences with some no-nonsense life advice and a renewed sense of appreciation for their parents.

Nai / Milk

A single Chinese woman struggles to bridge the cultural and societal expectations of motherhood in a Western setting until she finds release in the most unlikely way.

Writer/Director/Producer: Michelle Ang (Incubator 2020)

Co-Editor: Jack Brown

* Nominated for Toi Whakaari Best Actor, DEGANZ Best Director, and DEGANZ Best Editor

Whāna Friendly 2 Programme

Best suited and specially curated for 4-10 year olds, this programme will inspire and delight tamariki.

Star Sailors

Philly is with her neighbour, Agent Star Shine, taking on an early morning adventure when an alien lands in her backyard to eat all the strawberries!

Director: Jaimee Poipoi (Ngati Kahungunu/Ngāpuhi) (Incubator 2023)

Writer: Ben Powdrell


Congratulations to all 15 members involved with selected films; we look forward to watching!