Script to Screen is delighted to announce the appointment of Jackie Dennis as our new Executive Director. She steps up to the role having worked in programmes and operations with departing ED Esther Cahill-Chiaroni over the past 18-months.

Throughout her career Jackie has worked closely with creative practitioners in music, literature and film, nurturing careers and advocating for the arts.

Script to Screen Chair Cass Avery says, “We value the knowledge Jackie brings to the role and her commitment to Script to Screen. She brings a broad range of creative, strategic and leadership skills to the Executive Director role. With Jackie’s background and her love of film it is a natural transition.”

Prior to returning to Script to Screen in 2017, Jackie was Chief Executive of the New Zealand Society of Authors where she oversaw a major overhaul of the Society’s operations and activities. From 1993 to 2009 Jackie worked for the Mushroom Group initially for the Music Publishing arm. In the late 90s Mushroom diversified into movies and Jackie took up the post of General Manager at Mushroom Pictures in Australia where she was involved in the development and production of a wide range of film, television and multimedia productions. She has done music supervision for many projects including iconic films Chopper and What We Do In The Shadows. Jackie also played an important part in Script to Screen’s earlier years, programme managing the first two Big Screen Symposiums and working on the inaugural FilmUp Programme.

Jackie is excited to win the job after a rigorous recruitment process and is looking forward to engaging with the filmmaking community in her new role. She will take up the position in January 2019.

Are you a Pasifika or Asian storyteller with a story to tell?  NZ On Air has a Request for Proposals open for stories told by, about, and for your communities.

Production budgets will vary from around $300k-$750k per project depending on scale, platform, and audience reach. The format and duration of content will vary but will be a minimum of 30 minutes, and will depend on the primary platform and the story.

If you are one of 6-8 shortlisted projects, you will be awarded a place on a development programme run by Script to Screen. The programme will be especially tailored for you and your project, and includes a two-day workshop and follow-up mentoring to support the development of your project prior to submission for production funding. You do not need a platform attached to send a proposal to NZ On Air, and the development workshop will help facilitate these connections.


Stage 1 of the development programme: a group workshop session and one-on-ones between each team and mentors well-matched to the needs of the project. Platforms will be invited to present to the participants about their audiences and platforms; what they like to see in submissions and other relevant details relating to market needs.

Stage 2 of the programme: each participant will be eligible for a $1,000 grant and will be assigned a mentor to help the team get their project ready to attach a platform, seek secondary co-investment, and to apply to NZ On Air for production funding.

Stage 3 of the programme is a Pitch Day where participants pitch their projects to suitable and interested platforms – with the aim of securing letters of support from platform/s. After the Pitch Day participants finalise their proposals and re-submit their project to NZ On Air by 7 June 2019 for consideration for production funding.

Participants who live outside of Auckland will have their travel and accommodation paid for. Applicants must be available for all dates listed in the timeline.

More Info

We are delighted to announce nine esteemed advisors will join us for the rigourous programme of group workshops, team sessions and individual sessions carefully crafted to serve feature film projects in advanced development.

The complete line-up of advisors for 2018 are:
– Renowned director and writer Jane Campion
– Producer/EP Andrew Mason (THE MATRIX trilogy, TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN)
– Creative and Strategic Advisor Alesia Weston (USA)
– Esteemed painter Star Gossage
– Editor Nick Meyers (SWEET COUNTRY, THE BOYS)
– Producer Kath Shelper (TENDER, SAMSON & DELILAH)
– Directing & acting coach and story consultant Brita McVeigh
– Actor, casting director and filmmaker Loren Taylor

Read there full bios:

Story Camp Aotearoa is a residential feature film workshop that fosters craft, voice and vision. Talented New Zealand filmmakers workshop their projects with exceptional international and local advisors. The week long workshop is crafted around the specific needs of the chosen teams.

This year we are proud to pilot Story Camp Advanced, a workshop for creative teams with feature film projects close to production. The selection panel of producer Philippa Campbell, director Hamish Bennett and producer Tim White were impressed by the calibre of the ideas and the talented teams behind them.

The selected teams participating in Story Camp Advanced are:

Read their full biographies

Story Camp Aotearoa is made possible with financial assistance from the New Zealand Film Commission

6:15 Thursday 29 November
Te Auaha – 65 Dixon St, Te Aro, Wellington

…direct from BSS

STRAY is the debut feature film from award-winning writer/director/producer Dustin Feneley and producer Desray Armstrong.

The film was made outside the traditional funding system, and was financed through private investors, crowdfunding donors, sponsorships and the goodwill of cast and crew.

STRAY has subsequently been received positively by international film festivals, critics and audiences. Hailed by The Dominion Post as “one of the very best films ever made in New Zealand”, Flicks writes that STRAY “fortifies hope in the breadth and ambition of New Zealand film”.

STRAY had its World Premiere in Main Competition at the Moscow International Film Festival in April where it won the award for Best Actor. After receiving rave five-star reviews and numerous sell-out sessions at NZIFF, STRAY secured theatrical distribution in New Zealand and Australia, released nationally in October and is screening in over 40 cinemas.

STRAY holds the record for the highest amount ever raised through donation-based crowdfunding for a New Zealand film. In 2016, STRAY raised over $125,000 in a 30-day campaign on NZ arts crowdfunding site Boosted.

In this StS Talk, Dustin Feneley and Desray Armstrong discuss how STRAY was financed as an independent film. With a particular focus on securing private investment and the record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, they explore the entrepreneurial skills, drive and tenacity needed to succeed as independent filmmakers.

VENUE: Te Auaha, 65 Dixon St, Te Aro, Wellington
DATE: Thursday 29 November
TIME: 6:15-7:15. After the TALK, stay and have pizza on Script to Screen, there will be a cash bar and sociallising with fellow filmmakers.
$5.00 KOHA: Please bring cash as we do not have eftpos. Your contribution helps us to continue StS TALKS

Find this event on Facebook

This StS TALK is possible thanks to the support of the New Zealand Film Commission. Thanks to the New Zealand Film and Television School for the venue.

Participants who pitch a short film project at the 2018 South Auckland Short Film Workshop will also be invited to apply to the 2019 South Shorts Mentorship Programme.

Approximately eight participants will be chosen to take part in the programme spanning five months, which offers focused script mentorship for the selected short film projects under the leadership of two dedicated and experienced mentors.

South Shorts will offer participants guidance through the process of writing and developing a short film. Participants may intend to self-fund the film, crowd-fund, or prepare to apply to the New Zealand Film Commission’s Fresh Shorts initiative. Script to Screen is looking for distinctive new South Auckland voices with a passion for storytelling and something powerful to say. Selected participants may be new to short film writing or come with some experience.

How do I apply?
Participants will be chosen based on a combination of their pitch during the 2018 South Auckland Short Film Workshop and a written statement submitted to Script to Screen following the event. The statement should include why South Shorts would be valuable to you and your short filmmaking craft.

Applications close: Monday 3rd December at 9am


Programme Outline

The South Shorts Mentoring Programme will start in early 2019 and span across a five-month period. It will include three to four full day ‘hubs’ and individual script mentoring sessions and script notes.

Dates for the South Shorts Mentorship Programme will be set in December 2018

“I probably wouldn’t have a project without it (Script to Screen), because it was at the South Shorts Workshop where I had to pitch, and I hadn’t done that before. Script to Screen’s really accessible to anyone and it takes away the “you’ve got to be this and that to make a film”. It makes you realize that anyone can make a film, as long as you have good story – as cheesy as that sounds. But it’s important because it’s a really good outreach in the community. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”  

-Vea Mafile’o (South Shorts Alumni and current FilmUp mentee)

This initiative is made possible with assistance from Foundation North.

Do you love the power of cinema and have something to say?

Script to Screen, Ngā Aho Whakaari and PIFT present the 2018 South Auckland Short Film Workshop – a free two-day workshop to learn the art of making short films, from developing ideas to writing and directing for the big screen. Whether you’re new to filmmaking or experienced, we are calling all aspiring filmmakers, storytellers and creatives to attend this filmmaking workshop.

Over the weekend you will be guided by experts Michael Bennett (MATARIKI), Sima Urale (O TAMAITI), Aidee Walker (WESTSIDE) and Nikki Si’ulepa (SNOW IN PARADISE). You’ll learn where strong cinematic ideas come from, the principles of how to write a short film, the role of the director and ideas about how to get your short film off the ground.

Participants from this workshop will be invited to apply for Script to Screen’s South Shorts Mentorship Programme 2019. Participants will be chosen based on a combination of their pitch during the 2018 South Auckland Short Film Workshop and a written statement submitted to Script to Screen following the event. The statement should include why South Shorts would be valuable to you and your short filmmaking craft.

Applications close: Monday 3rd December at 9am

Where? Manukau Institute of Technology, Gate 13, Alexander Crescent, Otara

How much? The workshop is free. We provide lunch and suggest $20 cash to cover lunch on both days – if you are able to contribute please bring this cash along with you to the workshop.

Registration essential: Places are limited. Please email or call (09) 360-5400 to register. Include your name, email address, contact phone, suburb and level of experience (novice, emerging, intermediate or experienced). This workshop is recommended for 17+. It is intended for people who either live in South Auckland or have a connection with the area.

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.

You could write a synopsis which 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 (usually 5 – 15 mins long), the genre of your film (comedy or drama etc), and the characters’ names.

Image from short film MY FREIND MICHAEL JONES. Directed by Ian Leaupepe and Samson “Rambo” Vaotu’ua.

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

Script to Screen Executive Director Esther Cahill-Chiaroni will step down from the role at the beginning of next year after eight years leading the organisation.

Script to Screen Chair Cass Avery said the Board of Trustees has reluctantly accepted Esther’s resignation, “Esther has been the driving force of Script To Screen and has built the organisation into a hugely valuable part of the screen industry in Aotearoa. We are thrilled that she will continue to work with us next year running some of the programmes that she has been instrumental in creating but we understand that after achieving so much in the role it’s time for her to pass on the torch”.

Esther Cahill-Chiaroni has led the organisation through significant growth. She co-created and has helmed Big Screen Symposium since 2012, now well established as NZ’s premium annual screen industry event. In 2013 Script to Screen’s FilmUp Programme was launched, the first of a number of comprehensive filmmaker talent development programmes designed and led by Esther that include Story Camp Aotearoa, South Shorts Mentorship Programme and this year for the first time, Episodic Lab Aotearoa.

With a growing alumni of well over 100 filmmakers, Esther has been instrumental in supporting NZ’s most exciting emerging talent and championing voices underrepresented in our screen storytelling. Esther’s contribution to the film sector’s development has been immense and stands as one of her biggest achievements with Script to Screen. She has fostered and invested in the talent of a huge number of emerging creative forces within New Zealand including: Dustin Feneley, Vea Mafile’o, Jeremiah Tauamiti, Sophie Henderson, Chris Pryor and Miriam Smith, Yamin Tun, Alyx Duncan, Nic Gorman, Michelle Savill, Jake Mahaffy, Desray Armstrong, Gaysorn Thavat, Julia Parnell, Florian Habicht, Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Louise Tu’u, Josephine Stewart Te-Whiu, Rochelle Bright, Jess Feast, Max Currie, Chantelle Burgoyne, Asuka Sylvie, Armagan Ballantyne, Abigail Greenwood and Awanui Simich-Pene.

After eight years of growing the organisation, bringing the New Zealand film community together and developing our brightest filmmaking talent, Esther bids us farewell in February 2019 leaving Script to Screen in great shape to take on the future.
Esther said, “I believe Script to Screen is a unique organisation; it is certainly one incredibly close to my heart. I have loved my time here working closely with the filmmakers of Aotearoa NZ. I’d like to thank the community, alongside the wonderful team at Script to Screen for making the work a pleasure. For me, it is time for a change and I am confident the organisation will continue to prosper with a strong board and staff and with support and love from a truly terrific creative community”.

The board are grateful that Esther provided them six months’ notice to enable time for a robust recruitment and selection process. Applications for the role of Script To Screen Executive Director are open from September 24th 2018 until October 22nd 2018. Information regarding the application process can be found here.

The Big Screen Symposium brings the filmmakers of Aotearoa NZ together once a year to hear from an unbeatable line-up of local and international speakers. Join us to be energised, challenged, and part of the conversation.

This year’s Big Screen Symposium will take place over two days on Oct 26 & 27, at the ASB Waterfront Theatre.

The theme of #BigScreen18 Tuning into the Zeitgeist explores the forces that influence us both collectively and alone. How do the characteristics of our age and the politics of now manifest in our imaginations, and how does that impact the stories we tell and how they connect with audiences?

Early bird tickets are available on iTicket NOW. Check in at for announcements of our exciting speaker line up for this year.

The Big Screen Symposium is brought to you by Script to Screen and J&A Productions.

Script to Screen and Show Me Shorts Film Festival are calling for submissions to attend the 2019 Aotearoa Short Film Lab. We are looking for new and emerging writers, with bold short film ideas, to submit one script and up to three concepts for consideration.

Aotearoa Short Film Lab is a prestigious hothouse mentoring scheme for screenwriters and aspiring screenwriters to workshop new ideas for short film. Established in 2010 as a partnership between Show Me Shorts and Script to Screen, the Lab offers six New Zealand and two international short film makers the opportunity to develop their short film concepts and scripts with the guidance and advice of experienced industry mentors during a full-day workshop.

The mentors who guide participants to develop their stories are experienced short film and feature film screenwriters. Past mentors have included Michael Bennett (COW, MATARIKI, IN DARK PLACES), Shuchi Kothari (COFFEE & ALLAH, APRON STRINGS), Jackie van Beek (THE BREAKER-UPPERERS, INLAND ROAD), Diane Taylor (B\EYOND THE KNOWN WORLD, APRON STRINGS) and Dustin Feneley (STRAY).

Films developed with the assistance of the Lab have premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival (I’M GOING TO MUM’S), NZ International Film Festival (TREE) and Show Me Shorts Festival (ZINZAN, BABY?). This year CHARMER, also developed through the Lab, won the Creative New Zealand Emerging Talent award after it screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival, was official selection at Austin Film Festival and Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival and features in the Show Me Shorts 2018 programme.

Applications open: Now
Applications close: 3 December 2018, 12pm
Short Film Lab Date:  23 March 2019


The Aotearoa Short Film Lab is possible thanks to support from New Zealand Film CommissionThe Wallace Foundation, Pub Charity Ltd and the Media, Film and Television department of the University of Auckland.

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