Briar Grace-Smith is of Ngā Puhi descent and has lent her writing and acting talents to the screen, page and stage. She wrote the TV play FISH SKIN SUIT and has been a writer on various TV series including BEING EVE, MATAKU, KAITANGATA TWITCH and WHEN WE GO TO WAR (to premiere 2015). Her feature film THE STRENGTH OF WATER won a NZ Scriptwriters Award for Best Feature Film Script in 2010. The horror-comedy FRESH MEAT featured at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014.
Brita McVeigh has a cross disciplinary practice where she coaches acclaimed and emerging actors, directors, writers and producers in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. In less than a decade, Brita’s working methodology has contributed to the development of more than 113 feature film, short film, television and theatre projects. She is a board member of Script to Screen NZ and an advisory board member of the Writer’s Lab Aotearoa. Brita has been a mentor of the FilmUp Mentorship programme for the last two years working one on one with directors on how to strengthen their working approach with actors. She works using her own methodology crafted over 26 years of experience and tailors her approach to the unique requirements of each individual and project.
Ainsley Gardiner has produced shorts, feature films, TV series and commercials. In 2004 she established Whenua Films with actor Cliff Curtis to promote indigenous story-telling on screen. After working on award-winning shorts with Taika Waititi, Ainsley produced his first two features, EAGLE VS SHARK and breakout hit BOY. She is also producer of 2014 road movie THE PA BOYS, the feature debut of director Himiona Grace. Ainsley has recently written and directed one of 8 vignettes for the feature WARU and is writing an adaptation of a teen novel, as well as developing a slate of female driven features with her producing partner Georina Conder.
Loren Taylor is an actor, writer, director and casting director. She has been acting in film, television and theatre since she was 17. Loren co-wrote and starred in geek romance EAGLE VS SHARK by Taika Waititi, which took her to the Sundance Lab in 2005, and for which she won two best Best Actress awards. As a writer/director she recently completed an NZFC Premiere funded short film, and her Phoenix Foundation music video starring Bret McKenzie was selected for The Guardian’s website. She has been writing and directing commercials for international brands with the agency Wrestler and for local brands with the agency Double Denim. Loren is also a sought after casting director for film and commercials, and in 2015 worked with Derek Cianofrance on his film THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS. She has a feature film in development with the NZFC.
Since starting as the Executive Director of Script to Screen in 2011 Esther has launched and is director of the Big Screen Symposium and the FilmUp Mentorship Programme. Esther has a First Class Honours and Masters degree in screen production from the University of Auckland, where she wrote and directed a number of short films. She has three children.