Script to Screen, in partnership with Film Otago Southland, are thrilled to announce the participants for this newly created development opportunity, Southern Pilots.   
The 3 selected teams exemplify the high calibre of applications we received from new and emerging filmmakers in the region. This Southern Pilots development programme offers both talent and project development. The teams will have one-on-one advisor sessions and hear from industry speakers over a three-day workshop held in Ōamaru in June. The intent is to bring these series projects to a point where they will be compelling for producer partners and funders.   
Southern Pilots kaupapa is to help creatives from Otago and Southland generate IP for local and international audiences. This will, in turn, increase activity in both regions and foster a strong creative network of screen practitioners.   
We thank all the filmmakers who applied and congratulate the participants who have been selected. 

The 3 teams selected for Southern Pilots:  

The Southern Pilots development programme is made possible thanks to funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.

Kōpere Hou Fresh Shorts is an New Zealand Film Commission initiative run in partnership with Script to Screen.

Today we are thrilled to announce the talented filmmaking teams selected for this year’s Kōpere Hou Fresh Shorts. Three outstanding teams are poised to bring their creative visions to life with the support of development resources and a grant from the NZFC of $30,000 per team.

Kōpere Hou Fresh Shorts garnered significant attention this year, with a staggering 119 applications received. After careful consideration, twelve exceptional projects made it to the shortlist and advanced to Whiringa Tuarua – Stage Two. Despite facing tough decisions, we are proud to announce our final three selections.

“We extend our sincere appreciation to all the teams for their dedication and creativity throughout the application process,” says Jackie Dennis, Executive Director of Script to Screen. “The exceptional quality of submissions made the selection process both inspiring and challenging. For those whose projects weren’t selected, we encourage you not to be discouraged. Your passion and talent shine through, and we genuinely hope to see many of these captivating projects brought to life in the future.”

The writers, producers, and directors of the chosen teams will receive support to refine their stories, visions, and production plans. Through tailored workshops and guidance from experienced advisors, they will embark on a transformative six-week journey to enhance their projects’ potential for success.

This year’s selected projects promise a rich tapestry of storytelling, spanning across horror, animation, and drama genres. We congratulate the talented team members hailing from Auckland, Wellington, and Canterbury, whose distinct voices will enrich the already amazing collection of New Zealand’s short films.

The three selected teams and their projects are:

Kōpere Hou Fresh Shorts is a New Zealand Film Commission initiative run in partnership with Script to Screen.


Eligibility Criteria  

Q: Where can we seek external (objective) advice on whether we are emerging or mid-career filmmakers?
A: As this programme is funded by NZFC, we are using their career level descriptions. You can contact to seek more nuanced advice. 

Q: Does living in central Otago count?
A: You must have your current permanent residence in either Otago or Southland to take part in Southern Pilots.  

Q: Do you have to have a director attached? Can it be Writer / Producer duo?  
A: The team does not have to have a director attached, it can be a Writer and Producer duo. 

Q: Do you have to have a producer attached? Can it be Writer / Director duo?  
A: The team must have a producer attached. 

Q: Does the cultural consultant need to be based in the area?
A: Only the key team members Producer, Writer and Director need to be based in the Otago Southland Region. The cultural consultant does not need to be based in the area, but if there is a suitable consultant in the region it would be good to use them.  

Q: We are working on a series that must be shot in Dunedin but only 1 of the team is Otago based, the others Wellington / Auckland but no longer live in the city. Does that mean we are not eligible for this initiative?
A: Correct, the Wellington / Auckland team members are not living in Otago or Southland right now, so this teams project would not be eligible. A priority of the programme is to foster and develop local talent living in Otago or Southland.  

Q: Does the project need to be set / shot in Otago and/or Southland?
A: No, but preference will be given to projects either set in Otago and/or Southland or will be shot in Otago and/or Southland. 


Project Content/Duration 

Q: Is a one-hour drama suitable?
A: There is no minimum or maximum duration for the Southern Pilots projects, but duration should suit the experience level of the team and meet the requirements of the intended platform. 

Q: The application called for 5-10 pages of sample script. Can a full episode be given?  
A: The selectors will only be reading 5 pages for a series 30mins or less, and 10 pages for series greater than 30mins.  

Q: Are there any genres that are a focus for this initiative, e.g. comedy, horror, etc.
A: All genres will be considered.  

Q: Are selectors looking for any specific content? E.g. highlighting rural NZ issues, as an example. Or is it anything goes?
A: The selectors have no preconceived ideas about what they want. They will be looking for the best ideas. Preference will be given to projects that are set in Otago and/or Southland or will be shot in Otago and/or Southland. 

Q: Are there any objections to target audience type with content containing drug use/nudity/expletives 
A: No, as long as it is suitable for, and can be found by the proposed audience. 

Q: Will animated series be considered?
A: Yes, animated series will be considered. Information about where the animation would take place will be an important part of an application for animated series.  


Other Questions 

Q: If a story isn’t ready for this year, is Southern Pilots likely to be a regular event? 
A: Southern Pilots is reliant on funding. We cannot know, at this time, if we will successfully achieve funding in the future, but we would like to run the programme again. Please join our mailing list to receive notifications of future announcements.  


Q: Does the team of Writer, Director, need to contracted to the Producer?
A: We highly recommend the IP holder has a Letter of Understanding or a Development Agreement in place with each member of the team if the team do not hold the IP jointly. Please read the NZWG’s Best Practice Guide, in particular the Tools For A Strong Start.

Linked below:


Q: Submitting your documents. What to Submit? 
A: You must attach one document (no more than 10 pages) as a PDF answering all questions 1-9. Your script sample of 5-10 pages must be uploaded and attached as a separate PDF.   



Script to Screen, in partnership with Film Otago Southland, launches an exciting new development opportunity called Southern Pilots, for Otago and Southland based screen creators.

Script to Screen and Film Otago Southland are looking for new and emerging filmmakers with compelling, bold series story ideas suitable for development and viable for future production. Southern Pilots offers both talent and project development for three teams. The teams will have one-on-one advisor sessions and hear from industry speakers over a three-day development workshop, which aims to create outstanding pitch documents to present to potential producer partners and funders. 

Southern Pilots kaupapa is to help creatives from Otago and Southland generate IP for local and international audiences. This will, in turn, increase activity in both regions and foster a strong creative network of screen practitioners. 

Key Dates:

12 February: Applications open now
19 February: 5:30 pm application information webinar. Read FAQ’S Here
18 March: 1 pm applications close
21-23 June: 3-day workshop for selected teams



Script to Screen will manage the application and selection process and design and deliver the development workshop. We have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy that informs our work. Southern Pilots uses the NZFC definition for new and emerging filmmakers.

Please contact the team at Script to Screen, for any further questions. 

This development programme is possible thanks to funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.



12 teams and their projects have been shortlisted for Kōpere Hou Fresh Shorts and they have all accepted their invitation to apply for Whiringa Tuarua – Stage Two. Script to Screen and Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission thank all the filmmakers who applied for Whiringa Tuatahi – Stage One.  

As part of overall budget cuts, NZFC funding for short films has been reduced. You can read more about this in the NZFC December newsletter.   

Subsequently, Kōpere Hou Fresh Shorts 2023/24, has shortlisted 12 projects and 3 films will go on to be funded. The development process for the funded teams will remain the same, with a two-day workshop in June and follow-up mentorship as they work towards production.

The shortlisting was a rigorous and scrutable process. “Each application was read by 3 assessors, and they considered the story, the director’s vision and the team’s ability to complete the film. The assessors took it very seriously and long discussions were had to arrive at these 12 projects. Sadly, many excellent and worthy projects did not get through” says Jackie Dennis Executive Director of Script to Screen.   

The genres of the shortlisted projects range across comedy, drama, thriller, horror, historical and neo-noir and include live action and animation. The teams hail from Canterbury, Wellington, Bay of Plenty and Auckland. Three of the projects are re-submissions from previous years.  

We now have great pleasure in announcing the projects and teams shortlisted for Whiringa Tuarua – Stage Two of Kōpere Hou – Fresh Shorts 2023/24. 

Congratulations to: 


Image: Lea Tupu’anga/Mother Tongue Photo by Ralph Brown – © Run Charlie Films

Script to Screen and Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission
work in partnership to deliver the Kōpere Hou – Fresh Shorts programme.

Film Otago Southland and Script to Screen are excited to announce a new regional scripted TV series development programme for Otago and Southland-based filmmakers which will be taking place in 2024.

SOUTHERN PILOTS will take three teams through a development and mentoring programme to create a series bible and pitch deck for digital platforms. The selected teams will receive structured tuition and individual mentoring. At the completion of the programme, these projects will be pitched to industry stakeholders to attract series production funding.

Through Southern Pilots we aim to help creatives from Otago and Southland to generate IP aimed at local and international audiences. This will, in turn, increase activity in both regions, foster a strong creative network of film practitioners and provide a platform for our talented and dedicated local filmmakers to thrive.

This mahi has been made possible thanks to funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.

More details to come in early 2024.

This year marks the eleventh year of the FilmUp mentorship programme, and we are delighted to announce the 2023/24 participants who will join this growing community. 

Script to Screen engaged three external selectors to read all of the applications.  They selected 8 exceptional participants with a project in development. The selected participants listed below will be matched with a mentor to help develop their project. During the six-month programme the group will also participate in a series of three FilmUp Hubs that include round tables, group workshops, and guest speakers. 

There was an outstanding range of applications for the 2024 programme, and the final selection was a challenging process for our selectors. We congratulate this year’s participants and would like to thank all the filmmakers who applied.

The 8 filmmakers selected for FilmUp 2024: 

(Pictured left to right above) 

  • Pulkit Arora
    Writer/Director – Soft – Feature Film  
  • Danny Aumua
    Writer/Director/Producer – Sorry I’m Samoan – Feature Film 
  • Ryan Carter
    Writer- Choreomania – Feature Film  
  • Anna Rose Duckworth
    Director – Put a Baby in Me – Feature Film 
  • Ella Gilbert
    Writer/Director – The Desert Road – Feature Film 
  • Angeline Loo
    Writer/Director – Hungry Ghosts – Feature Film 
  • Maza White
    Writer/Director – Ruptured – Feature Film 
  • Harry Wynn
    Writer/Director – Zyzz (Working Title) – Feature Documentary 


FilmUp is made possible thanks to funding from The New Zealand Film Commission


FilmUp has a very high reputation among its alumni but even my own expectations based on that reputation were exceeded again and again with every session and workshop. I wish, in earnest, that every filmmaker could experience the safe, nurturing and honest environment of trust and care that FilmUp creates and take advantage of the network it can help you build with your fellow filmmakers.”  

Rajneel Singh,
FilmUp 2022/23 participant (mentor Nicole Dade) 

The FilmUp Mentorship programme returns to support and empower up to eight tenacious and talented filmmakers to reach the next stage in their creative careers. If you are writer, director or producer developing a feature film or documentary, this programme could be just what you need to progress your work to the next stage. 

A mentor for each filmmaker forms the cornerstone of the programme, along with six FilmUp Hub days when the participants come together for group work.  

Applicants must have a feature project in development, narrative or documentary, and be able to demonstrate that their project and career are at the right stage for mentorship. 

Successful applicants will take part in 20 hours of mentorship with an experienced film practitioner and three 2-day FilmUp hubs held between February 2024 and July 2024. These hubs are tailored to meet the needs of the selected filmmakers and include workshops, peer discussions and round tables with industry leaders. 

Participants are the driving force of a successful mentorship as they take hold of their own learning and development. This autonomy is fostered from the start of the programme when participants are actively involved in the selection of their mentor. Throughout the programme there is wrap-around support from Script to Screen. 

Since its inception in 2013, FilmUp has gone from strength to strength, with a growing alumni of talented local filmmakers who have benefitted from the programme including Briar March (Dame Valerie Adams: MORE THAN GOLD, Mothers of the Revolution, ), Chelsea Winstanley ( Ka Po, Night Raiders, Jojo Rabbit,), Desray Armstrong (Earthlings, Bad Behaviour, Coming Home in the Dark), Florian Habicht (James & Isey, Spookers, Love Story), Gaysorn Thavat (The Justice of Bunny King), Jake Mahaffy (Reunion, Free in Deed), Nic Gorman (Human Traces), Paula Whetu-Jones (Whina), Sophie Henderson (Baby Done, Fantail) and Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa (Mama’s Music Box, Take Home Pay, Three Wise Cousins). You can read about past participants and an impressive list of mentors from the last 10 years who have helped these filmmakers take a step up in their careers here. 

The FilmUp Mentorship programme is for individual filmmakers (not pairs or teams) who are working on a feature film. You must be a NZ citizen or permanent resident to apply.  

Here’s what’s required for the application: 


APPLICATIONS OPENED: Mon 4 September 2023

APPLICATIONS CLOSED: Mon 9 October 2023 1:00 pm 

We will know the outcome of our funding before FilmUp applications close on 9 Oct and we will keep applicants informed of the outcome.


You can read our Top Tips to make your FilmUp application shine while crafting your application.

FilmUp is made possible thanks to financial support from the New Zealand Film Commission. FilmUp is reliant on funding being achieved in 2023.

Mid-winter is a good time for planning and we here at STS are plotting the next twelve months. We wanted to let you know that our development programmes will open later than usual. STS relies on funding, and one of our funding sources opened a couple of months later than usual, hence the change to our dates. For those of you who are planning around these submission dates, here’s an idea of what to expect:

As mentioned, they are all funding contingent, and these dates may change, but if you are thinking you would like to apply this is a good guide.

We have some great community workshops and TALKS coming up, so pop the ones that are in your region on your calendar. Keep an eye on your email, for when registrations open.

11 August – Christchurch TALK 

16 September – Queenstown Workshop

21 October – Auckland Workshop

4 November – Dunedin workshop


Script to Screen, in partnership with Te Puna Matarau, is thrilled to reveal the teams participating in the Waitaha Canterbury Screen Story Incubator. Independent selectors chose five teams consisting of three series, a feature film, and a narrative-driven video game. Each team will engage in three workshops from July to September 2023. Throughout the programme, participants will hear invaluable insights from industry professionals and benefit from personalised guidance to refine their projects. The ultimate aim is to increase the number of screen stories created and produced in the region.

“The SCNZ Screen Production Grant has been the real catalyst to put Waitaha Canterbury front and centre with producers.  Supporting this incubator is one way we are looking to develop more stories from and about the region. We are grateful for the support the initiative has received from NZFC and NZOA.” Petrina D’Rozario, Manager Screen CanterburyNZ

Jackie Dennis, Executive Director of Script to Screen and also from Otautahi, says, “The selected projects are exciting. They include a love letter to rock music culture and the trans community, an animated family adventure, a recluse living in the Southern Alps, and two comedies – a feature set in 1975 and a series that unfolds on a road trip. We have advisors travelling from Sydney and all over New Zealand to give each team exactly what they need to craft outstanding stories”.

Congratulations to the following teams:
(pictured left to right)

W- Writer D-Director P-Producer De-Designer


Te Puna Matarau

Te Puna Matarau is an incorporated society created by Canterbury-based screen professionals to build, support, and advocate for the growth of the screen industry in Waitaha Canterbury. They have partnered with Script to Screen to deliver the Waitaha Canterbury Screen Story Incubator for the purpose of developing and producing projects that will ultimately be made in the region. For more information contact

Waitaha Canterbury Screen Story Incubator is made possible thanks to funding from
Screen CanterburyNZNew Zealand Film Commission and NZ on Air.


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