Filmmakers Briar Grace-Smith, Michael Goldenberg and Dana Rotberg will return to mentor at this year’s Writers’ Lab Aotearoa, bringing with them a wealth of experience in storytelling. They all joined us for the inaugural event last year, and are looking forward to working with the new crop of feature film writers.

Briar Grace-Smith (THE STRENGTH OF WATER) is a multi-award winning writer whose work spans film, television, theatre, poetry, and short story. Aside from writing, Briar has served a term as a development executive with the New Zealand Film Commission.

Michael Goldenberg is a US screenwriter of feature films including HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, CONTACT, PETER PAN, and longstanding mentor at the Sundance Screenwriting Labs.

Dana Rotberg is a Mexican filmmaker based in Auckland. After a career writing, directing and producing films in Mexico and Sarajevo, including multiple selections at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Dana continued her successes on our shores.

They join Artistic Director of the Sundance Filmmakers’ Lab, Gyula Gazdag.

The Writers’ Lab Aotearoa is proudly supported by the New Zealand Writers Guild with financial support from the NZ Film Commission.

You can now relive (or experience for the first time) some of this year’s Big Screen Symposium with this selection of summer viewing.

We’d like to thank filmmaker and 2014 FilmUp participant Michelle Savill, who has curated a series of short excerpts around this year’s theme, “Strengthening our Collaborative Spirit”, including Rachel Griffiths, Alison Maclean, Anthony McCarten – not to mention the brilliant Jane Campion.

Also a big thank you to the students of SAE Institute and Images and Sound for making these videos possible.

Watch the highlights here or on VIMEO.

From everyone at Script to Screen, all the best for the festive season and we’ll see you in 2016 for another exciting year!

On the weekend of 28/29th November, 25 emerging filmmakers gathered at MIT’s Faculty of Creative Arts for the South Auckland Short Film Workshop, a two-day workshop designed to give you all the basic tools you need to make your own short film. Participants heard from industry mentors who shared their insights into each part of the filmmaking process.

The aim of the weekend is to bring to life more stories from South Auckland, and the participants came from a diverse set of backgrounds including those working in TV and production, as well as students and graduates of various creative disciplines.

On the Sunday afternoon, participants were encouraged to pitch a short film idea. The judges were extremely impressed with the ideas pitched – many of which were developed during the weekend. The stories were rich and personal, and the passionate pitches made it very difficult for the judges to choose a winner.

The winners of the pitching competition were Vea Mafileo and Jeremiah Tauamiti with their documentary idea MALAGA. The judges also gave special mentions to three short drama ideas, Chris Molloy with WHITE SUNDAY AND THE MAORI BOY, Piata Gardiner-Hoskins with THE HANGING TREE, and Hanelle Harris with BASIC TRAINGING.

This workshop was presented by Script to Screen and Ngā Aho Whakaari.

2016 South Shorts Mentoring Programme

To follow on from the workshop, Script to Screen is running the 2016 South Shorts Mentorship Programme, where 6 aspiring writers and 3 aspiring producers will be matched with filmmaking mentors to help them develop their projects further. Participants of the workshop were all eligible to apply for a place on the mentorship programme to develop their projects. Those chosen were:

6 Writers

Jaemen Busby – LANCE

Hanelle Harris – BASIC TRAINING

Vea Mafileo (and co-director Jeremiah Tauamiti) – MALAGA


Skye Stirling (and writer Chris Molloy) – GANGSTA LOVE

Jeremiah Tauamiti – LILIU

3 Producers

Henry Cheng

Hans Masoe

Louisa Tipene Opetaia

Is there a story from your community that you would like to tell through film but don’t know where to start?
Do you want the chance to have 6 months one-on-one mentoring with an experienced filmmaker?

Script to Screen and Ngā Aho Whakaari present the 2015 South Auckland Short Film Workshop – a free two-day workshop that will give you everything you need to know to make a short film.

Over one weekend, four experienced filmmakers will guide you through each stage of the filmmaking process – from the initial concept, writing, directing, working with actors and finally to pitch your idea to collaborators and funders. We are looking for new talent from South Auckland with a passion for storytelling, and an interest in learning how to make a short film. Up to six attendees/teams will also have the opportunity to participate in the South Shorts Mentoring Programme. This is a tailored programme that pairs writers and producers with experienced industry mentors, and returns after a successful inaugural year.

What do I need to bring to the workshop?

You are encouraged to come with a short film idea, and any team members you might wish to work with. It is not compulsory to have a short film idea ready, but will mean that you get the most out of the workshop.
The synopsis should be half a page, describing what your film is about, what happens in the film, and what you want people to feel when they are watching it. You could also include why this story is important to you or why this story needs to be told. Remember to include details like, how long you expect the film to be (short films are usually 5 – 15 mins long), whether it is a comedy or drama etc, and the characters’ names.
On Day 2 of the workshop, participants will be invited to pitch their short film idea to the group in a pitching competition, to a panel of industry mentors.You are welcome to pitch the short film idea you submitted, or another idea. The pitch is to be kept to 3 minutes.

2016 South Shorts Mentorship Programme

Following the workshop, those who wish to apply for the mentorship programme will be asked to submit a short statement to Script to Screen outlining why the mentorship programme is for them. The programme focuses on emerging writers and producers. Participating in the pitching session is not only a great way to practice communicating your film idea to others, but provides a great opportunity to introduce yourself and your film idea to the panel who will be selecting the participants for the 2016 South Shorts Mentorship Programme. Producers applying for the mentoring programme may either pitch their own idea at the pitching session, or pitch as a team with a writer. More info about South Shorts here.

Details for the 2015 South Auckland Short Film Workshop

Date: Sat 28 / Sun 29 November, 2015
Time: Saturday 9:15am – 4:00pm, Sunday 10am – 5:00pm
Venue: Manukau School of Visual Arts, 50 Lovegrove Crescent, Otara 2023
Cost: The workshop is free. Morning and afternoon tea will be provided. Please bring a $15 koha to cover lunch for the weekend.
Registration: Spaces are limited so you must register your interest. Please rsvp to Eloise on eloise @ or ring the office on 09 360 5400. This workshop is aimed at ages 17+. Participants should be from the South Auckland community or have strong connections there.


Day One – Saturday 28 November

9:15am – 9:30am: Tea/Coffee and Welcome

9:30am – 12:30pm: Screenwriting with writer/director Michael Bennett (Matariki, The Factory)

Learn about the key points of what makes a great story for the screen and then how to go about writing it in a way that will grab the audience.

12:30pm – 1:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm – 3:00pm: Producing with Julia Parnell (Friday Tigers, Dive, Hitch Hike)

Learn about bringing a film to life, from conception to completion – the obstacles and joys you’ll face

3:00-4:30pm: Working with Actors – Rene Naufahu (The Last Saint)

Learn about the relationship between the actor, the director, and the character, and what leads to great performances

Day Two – Sunday 29 November

10am – 12:00pm: Directing with Zia Mandviwalla (Nightshift)

Learn about the director’s role in the film and forming a strong vision for your story

12pm-1pm: Lunch

1pm – 4:30pm: Pitching Session

Participants are invited to pitch their short film idea to the group and a panel of industry mentors.  You are welcome to pitch the short film idea you submitted before the workshop, or another idea. The pitch is to be kept to 3 minutes.

Following the workshop, up to six writers and producers will be chosen to participate in our 2016 South Shorts Mentoring Programme. They will be chosen based on their pitch, and a statement about why the mentoring programme is for them. Producers applying for the mentoring programme may either pitch their own idea, or pitch in a team with a writer.

If you have any questions please contact Eloise Veber on 09 360 5400 or at eloise @

The South Auckland Short Film Workshop returns thanks to the continued support of Auckland Council Creative Communities, Foundation North and the New Zealand Film Commission.

In addition to the South Auckland Short Film Workshop, Script to Screen is proud to reintroduce the South Shorts Mentoring Programme.

Six participants of the South Auckland Short Film Workshop will be chosen to participate in a 6 month programme, which offers up to 30 hours of mentoring on a short film project.

The programme will guide emerging writers and producers through the process of developing a short film, whether the filmmakers aim to make the film on their own, or getting a script ready to apply for the New Zealand Film Commission Fresh Shorts scheme. We are looking for distinctive new voices with a passion for storytelling. Participants may have some, little or no prior knowledge of filmmaking.

How do I apply?

The participants will be chosen based on a combination of their pitch during the 2016 South Auckland Short Film Workshop, and a written statement submitted to Script to Screen after the workshop outlining why the mentoring programme is for them.

Programme Outline

The South Shorts Mentoring Programme will start in early 2017, and participants will need to be available to attend the following days. Dates have not yet been set and will be discussed with the 6 participants in December 2016.

Kick-off Lab (7 hours) – All mentors and participants attend a one day intensive lab to launch the programme.

Hubs (6 hours) – The participants come together for two 3 hour hub meetings during the six month period. This is a chance for the writers to discuss their experiences, what they are learning and hear from a guest speaker about a particular topic.

Ongoing Mentoring (10 hours over a 6 month period) – Participants are each offered 10 hours of one-on-one sessions with their mentor over the course of 6 months. The content of these sessions will be tailored to suit the needs of each team, but centre around developing the story and script, ready for either shooting the film or applying for funding.

Wrap-up Lab (7 hours) – A day together again completes the six-month journey. Teams will chart progress, discuss challenges they encountered and plan the way forward for their film.

This initiative is made possible with assistance from Foundation North.

For our last Wellington Writers’ Room of 2015, we bring you the most popular discussion from our Auckland Writers’ Room series. Writers Briar Grace-Smith, Max Currie and Emily Perkins get together with Ken Duncum to discuss the experience of writing a first feature film.

Writing of any sort can be a lonely process. From that initial FADE IN, to hashing out that final, closest-to-perfect draft, writing a film is often a long and arduous journey.

How do you keep the passion that drives you to create, while giving so much attention to structure and precision? And how can you ensure that your work stands out despite the pitfalls of inexperience?

Three NZ screenwriters with a feature film under their belt discuss taking that leap of faith. Briar Grace-Smith (THE STRENGTH OF WATER), Max Currie (EVERYTHING WE LOVED), and Emily Perkins (THE REHEARSAL) talk to screenwriter and playwright Ken Duncum (DUGGAN, BLUE SKY BOYS) about their experiences, what they wish they knew then, and how the writing process changes while you develop as a writer.

Join us from 5:30pm for a glass of wine and stay afterwards for a slice of pizza on us!

Wed 18 November, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision, 84 Taranaki Street. $5 koha appreciated (includes a glass of wine). Drinks 5:30pm, talk 6-7pm.

Event video available here.

Script to Screen and WIFT NZ are proud to present a discussion with prolific Danish producer and broadcaster Piv Bernth (THE KILLING/Danish Broadcasting Corporation).

With a background in directing for theatre and screen, Bernth moved to producing in 1998 at Denmark’s broadcaster DR. Here she produced Emmy-winning NIKOLAJ AND JULIE and internationally lauded THE KILLING, as well as executive producing THE BRIDGE. In 2012 she moved into broadcasting as DR’s Head of Drama, green-lighting titles including BORGEN and THE LEGACY.

Join us to hear Piv Bernth talk to NZ producer and distributor Jill Macnab (BORN TO DANCE/Vendetta Films) about her approach to developing drama. As they pick apart the Danish model, learn how a small nation continues to produce compelling TV drama that finds a global audience. What can we learn from a model that champions writer and story, and is dedicated to giving audiences challenging work?

Tuesday 27th October, upstairs at Studio One Toi Tū, 1 Ponsonby Road (The old ‘Art Station’). 6:30pm drinks, 7-8pm discussion. 

$10 koha suggested. Includes a glass of wine before the talk and a slice of pizza afterwards.

DVDs of some of Bernth’s titles such as BORGEN, THE KILLLING and THE BRIDGE, as well as other lauded TV drama such as FORCE MAJEURE and THE RETURNED, will be available for purchase at reasonable prices courtesy of distributor Madman Entertainment. Eftpos available. 

Jill Macnab has an impressive and varied career in producing, distribution and marketing. After a stint in theatre management at Edinburgh Fringe, Macnab headed the sales and marketing department at Vendetta Films before aiding their international acquisitions launch. Most recently she has produced her debut feature film, BORN TO DANCE (2015) directed by Tammy Davis.

Proudly brought to you in collaboration with WIFT NZ.

Dianne Taylor stands down as chair of the Script to Screen Board of Trustees, after a term of five and a half years, four of which were at the helm.

Executive Director Esther Cahill-Chiaroni notes, “Dianne’s devotion to the organisation has been invaluable to staff, the board, and the wider community alike. She has provided endless support to me over a time of great development for the organisation, whilst guarding our founding creative vision to foster and develop storytelling craft and culture. She will be so very missed, but we are pleased that moving on will enable her to focus even more on her own screenwriting career.”

Dianne’s tenure has seen the creation of the Big Screen Symposium, the FilmUp Mentorship programme, and the Writers’ Lab Aotearoa. Dianne reflects positively on her time with the organisation. “Chairing Script to Screen over the past four years has been an enormous privilege. We’ve been able to develop and drive exciting new initiatives for our community. It’s been particularly gratifying to see the seeding of relationships between so many local and international filmmakers.”

We are delighted to announce that Brita McVeigh, who joined the board late last year, will step into the chair position.

Brita works to empower writers, directors, and actors in her own cross-disciplinary practice, and brings a wealth of relevant expertise to the role. “Brita already has such a strong understanding of the organisation, its aims and our kaupapa.  We are very much looking forward to working with her in this new capacity and to the skills she will bring.” – Esther Cahill-Chiaroni, Executive Director

Brita expresses her enthusiasm to take up this new role. “It is an exciting time to be working with Esther and the team.  Script to Screen has an excellent group of people on the board – I am honoured to be stepping into the chair.”

To find out more about the Big Screen Symposium, please go to our website:

The Big Screen Symposium 2015 is nearing and it’s all go! This year’s symposium takes place on 10/11 October 2015, at the University of Auckland Business School.

The Big Screen Symposium is New Zealand’s premiere film event of the year, where over 400 delegates come together for two days of conversations, workshops, panel discussions and case studies with a stellar line-up of local and international speakers. This year’s programme will be shaped around the theme ‘Strengthening Our Collaborative Spirit.’

Early bird tickets are on sale now until midnight, Thurs 10 September. So get in quick for the best rates, and secure your spot at the biggest industry weekend of the year.

The Big Screen Symposium captures the hearts of the film community.

“It was a wonderful experience for me in every possible way. I was touched by the warmth in which I was received across the board and it was an honour to be there.” – US producer Alix Madigan (WINTER’S BONE)

“I was struck by the positive energy of both the speakers and the participants. It reminded me of one of the core reasons why we make films – to share (and experience) a unique point of view.” – 2014 Speaker, AUS director Jennifer Kent (THE BABADOOK)

Come and join your filmmaking peers, and feel a sense of camaraderie as you learn more about your craft and get that injection of inspiration needed to carry your projects through.


Last weekend, 25 aspiring short filmmakers gathered at Te Whaea for the 2015 Wellington Short Film Workshop. Attendees heard from industry practitioners including directors Sima Urale and Rob Sarkies, producer Vicky Pope and acting coach Brita McVeigh, who shared insights into each part of the filmmaking process, and discussed with attendees what they need to know to make their first short film.

On Sunday afternoon, participants pitched their short film ideas to filmmakers Rob Sarkies and Michelle Savill for discussion and feedback. The winner of the pitching session was Finn Teppett, with his idea DEMOCRACY.

Congratulations to Finn Teppett, and thanks to all the filmmakers who came along and shared their ideas.

This workshop was made possible with support from the Creative Communities Scheme.

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