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 info@script-to-screen.co.nz 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.   



Can I submit a  Series Concept in any genre?
Yes, you can submit a comedy/thriller/crime/horror/sci-fi etc series concept as long as it is scripted.

Do I have to have a producer attached to my project to apply?
No, but it is important that the series is being developed to pitch to broadcasters, platforms or co-producers experienced at getting series funded and produced. So if one of the writers is also going to pitch the series after Bootcamp, then a producer does not need to be in the team.

Can I be both the writer and the producer?
Yes, you can be a producer and writer of your TV series concept as long as you are capable of performing both roles.

Do all team members have to attend in person?
All key team members must be able to attend the two-day development lab in person in Auckland 4 & 5 May, the online session mid June and the pitch day 26 June. 

If there is a highly experienced producer guiding a new producer (or writer-producer), only the new producer needs to attend the development lab.

How do I know if my experience level meet eligibility?
We expect applicants to be on a learning pathway. For this programme, if you think you are emerging or mid-career and that you can learn from Series Bootcamp advisors, then you are eligible. You may choose to address how this programme would develop your career in your biography e.g. you are an experienced writer/director who is stepping into producing; or you are an experienced producer in film/doco/reality TV but not Scripted TV.

Can I apply more than once?
Yes, but keep in mind the selectors would have to eliminate one project from the short list should one team member be attached to two projects that are in the shortlist.

A conversation with the creators of Netflix’s new hit crime thriller Clickbait. While set in the US, Clickbait was developed and made in Australia. It was filmed in and around Melbourne with both US and Australian actors and post-production was completed whilst the city was dealing with many restrictions caused by the pandemic. Co-creators Tony Ayres and Christian White talk with moderator Cass Avery across a wide range of subjects including writing and collaboration, building a team, adapting the series for the US and the audience metrics they received from Netflix.

This Script to Screen Talk was held on 19 October 2021 as an online webinar and made possible thanks to generous support from the New Zealand Film Commission, Foundation North and Images & Sound.

Watch more TALKS from us

Hear more TALKS from us


Tony Ayres is an award-winning Australian showrunner, writer and director. He is well known for creating some of Australia’s most revered film and television dramas including The Home Song Stories, Nowhere Boys, The Slap, Glitch, Stateless and most recently Clickbait, along with feature movies Cut Snake (2015), The Home Song Stories (2007) and Walking on Water (2002).

Christian White is an Australian author, screenwriter and producer. He has written award-winning novels The Nowhere Child and The Wife and the Widow. Christian co-created the television series Clickbait, with Tony Ayres. He also co-wrote the feature film Relic, a horror/drama starring Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote and Robyn Nevin.

Cass Avery is a producer, executive producer and writer, Cass has helmed and scripted more than 50 documentaries and television series commissioned in NZ and Australia. She is currently Head of Development and the Executive Producer at Augusto.

Tues 19 October
5:30pm – 6:30pm NZDT – TALK


This Script to Screen TALK is made possible thanks to generous support from the
New Zealand Film CommissionFoundation North and Images & Sound.

We’ve made some changes to the roll-out of our high-end intensive development programmes for 2021. So if you are a filmmaker planning to apply to FilmUp, Story Camp or Strength in Numbers in 2021 make sure these dates are on your radar!

All of our high-end, contestable programmes are open nationally and take place in Auckland. Travel will be covered for selected participants from outside of Auckland. Due to COVID-19 and current New Zealand government border restrictions, all applicants must be residing in New Zealand at the time of applying.

All programmes are contingent on funding.

FilmUp is a nine-month professional development programme for practising writers, directors and producers. It supports and empowers up to eight emerging to senior practising filmmakers selected each year to further develop a project and participate in group workshops. Throughout the programme, each participant receives 20 hours of mentorship with an esteemed industry mentor, participates in group work & round tables, and receives wrap-around support.

Applications Open: Early May 2021
Applications Close:  Mid June 2021
Group Workshops Held: from August 2021 – April 2022


Story Camp Aotearoa
Story Camp Aotearoa is a residential feature film lab that fosters craft, voice and vision. Eight selected screenwriters or creative teams workshop their projects with exceptional international and local advisors in a rigorous five-day experience designed specifically to meet the development needs of a feature film.

Applications Open: Early July 2021
Applications Close: Mid August 2021
Residential Lab: Five Days in Late November


Strength in Numbers
Strength in Numbers is focused on building sustainable businesses in our screen industry. Selected filmmakers participate in a series of workshops over a 5 to 6 month period. The programme offers a unique opportunity for practitioners in the screen industry to work together on the building blocks of business models that will sustain their future.

Applications Open: Late September 2021
Applications Close: Early November 2021
Group Workshops held: from February 2022 – June 2022



Image: Story Camp 2020. Credit: Evie Mackay Photography

Script to Screen is excited to bring you a late-night TALK with award-winning director Jessica Hobbs, in conversation with moderator Rob Sarkies. Jessica started her career in New Zealand and has risen to work on some of our favourite series made in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Jessica has directed episodes of The Split, Apple Tree Yard, Broadchurch and most recently multi-award-winning show The Crown. She directed two episodes of Season 3, including the finale starring Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. She has gone on to direct three episodes of Season 4 including the finale.

Before moving to the UK Jessica was the lead director on the award-winning series The Slap, directed episodes of Rake and Love My Way, and won an Australian Directors Guild Award for her work on Devil’s Dust. She was also awarded the Australian Film Institute Award for ABC mini-series, Answered by Fire.

In this Script to Screen TALK, Jessica will join us live from London to talk to director Rob Sarkies (The Gulf, Consent, Jean, Two Little Boys, Wanted, Out of the Blue, Scarfies). They will discuss what it is like working on a series drama in the UK right now, her approach to directing, and her ambitions for the future.


Jessica Hobbs began directing short films in her 20s, during an eight-year stint as an assistant director. After helming Cliff Curtis TV drama Overnight in 1995, she got her break on Australia’s Heartbreak High. Hobbs went on to build up an impressive — and award-winning — Australian resume, including hit show Love My Way, East Timor mini-series Answered by Fire, winning the Australian Film Institute Directing Award for both, and the first two episodes of BAFTA-nominated ensemble drama The Slap, which she also set up.  After relocating to England, she directed Emily Watson in the high profile mini-series Apple Tree Yard, based on the Louise Doughty bestseller about a married woman who has an affair. Other directing credits include Broadchurch, River, BBC mini-series The Split, written by Abi Morgan, and most recently seasons 3 and 4 of The Crown for Netflix.

Rob Sarkies works across feature films, series television and commercials as a creator and director. His work includes Out of the Blue about the Aramoana shootings, Consent based on Louise Nicholas’s fight for justice, Jean about aviator Jean Batten, black-buddy-comedy Two Little Boys, Wanted, The Gulf and NZ classic Scarfies.

Tues 23 March
9:00pm – 10:00pm NZDT – TALK

Tony Ayres is an award-winning Australian showrunner, writer and director, and is one of the founding members of internationally renowned Australian production company Matchbox Pictures, now owned by NBC Universal Studios. In 2018 Tony established his own production company Tony Ayres Productions (TAP), developing and producing feature films and television for global audiences and international marketplaces.

Tony was the showrunner on International Emmy and BAFTA nominated series, The Slap and an EP on its US remake. He co-created and was Executive Producer on multi-award winning series Glitch (3 seasons). He was also an executive producer on International Emmy nominated Wanted (3 seasons), and multi-award winning series The Devil’s Playground, Old School, Underground: The Julian Assange Story, and The Straits. He executive produced comedy series The Family Law (3 seasons), Bogan Pride and Maximum Choppage. He produced miniseries Barracuda and the multi- award winning Seven Types of Ambiguity. He directed the multi-award winning TV movie, Saved.

In children’s TV, Tony created and executive produced the International Emmy and BAFTA award winning Nowhere Boys and the telemovie based on the series, Nowhere Boys: The Book of Shadows. The series is internationally acclaimed, winning the AACTA Award for Best Children’s Television Series, two Logies, three Kidscreen Awards, a Rockie, and a Prix Jeunesse Award.

In feature films, Tony directed Cut Snake (2015), The Home Song Stories (2007) winner of 24 international and Australian awards, and Walking on Water (2002), which premiered at the Berlinale. He also EP’d feature films Ali’s Wedding and Lou.

Currently Tony is the showrunner for upcoming US Netflix series Clickbait, and co-created and EP’d the Matchbox/ABC refugee detention centre drama Stateless alongside Cate Blanchett and Elise McCredie. Stateless stars Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Dominic West and Cate Blanchett.

Senior executives, producers, showrunners and writers of internationally acclaimed shows, including American Horror Story, Better Call Saul, Bloodline, Glee, Glitch, Marcella, Please Like Me, Succession and Supergirl, will arrive in New Zealand next week to be advisors in an intensive week-long Series Drama Lab designed to develop strong New Zealand projects for the international and domestic market.

The Series Drama Lab is part of Raupapa Whakaari: Drama to the World, a new initiative from the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air delivered in conjunction with Script to Screen. The initiative supports ten talented New Zealand writer/producer teams to develop distinctive, high-end scripted series with international and domestic appeal.

The advisor line-up includes Caitlin Parrish creator, writer and producer (The Red Line, Supergirl); Chris Loveall  Vice President, International Programming for AMC, SundanceTV and BBC America (EP Fortitude, Please Like Me); Chris Oliver-Taylor CEO of Fremantle Media Australia; Christine Bartlett a writer, creator and producer (Five Bedrooms , The Wrong Girl); multiple Emmy award winning producer Dante Di Loreto (Temple Grandin, American Horror Story, Glee); Jonathan Glatzer writer, producer, director (Succession, Better Call Saul, Bloodline); Louise Fox co-creator, writer, producer (Glitch, Broadchurch);  Nicola Larder co-creator, executive producer (Marcella).

Annabelle Sheehan, CEO of the New Zealand Film Commission, said, “The excellence and high profile credits of the international advisors will provide significant inspiration for our New Zealand creative teams regarding their work with the global marketplace.  The week focuses on the commercial and creative drivers for producers and showrunners and will help shape the next wave of New Zealand series drama for New Zealand and the rest of the world.”

NZ On Air CEO, Jane Wrightson said, “The combined brainpower of a stellar lineup of international advisors with outstanding local talent and their ideas has great promise – we are very much looking forward to seeing the next stage of these Raupapa Whakaari projects. ”

Script to Screen Executive Director Jackie Dennis said, “This hasn’t happened in New Zealand before. The writers and producers coming to the Series Drama Lab will develop their projects with advisors who have worked on exceptional shows that have found dedicated audiences all around the world. I can’t wait to see the results.”

The international advisors will take part in panels, conversations and case studies and provide feedback on participating teams’ series drama concepts in story and market meetings.

The ten teams have received initial development of $10,000. Following the Series Drama Lab and submission of the re-worked projects, four teams will be selected to receive additional development funding of up to $80,000 each.

The eight teams selected for Episodic Lab Aotearoa will develop their skills and their projects with guidance from eight experienced television writers from New Zealand, Australia, Denmark and United States during a five-day immersive lab. We are so excited to bring these exceptional advisors together for the first Episodic Lab.

A full list of their biographies can be found here

We are able to bring this remarkable depth and breadth of advisor experience together thanks to support from NZ on AirLightboxNew Zealand Film Commission and Images & Sound.

Thank you to everyone who applied to our first ever EPISODIC LAB AOTEAROA this May. Over 95 teams submitted 116 series concepts, showing a real hunger for development opportunities in writing for the small screen.

The selection panel of Australian-based writer/development producer Katherine Fry, writer/director/actor Oscar Kightley and writer/director Fiona Samuel were impressed by the calibre of the ideas and the talented teams behind them. They had a very difficult job choosing only eight projects to be developed in the lab.

Fiona Samuel said on behalf of the selection panel, “We could easily have chosen twice the number of proposals from this crowded and talented field. There are so many entertaining and compelling stories waiting to be told and so many writers with the potential to take on episodic drama and bring something new to our screens.”

The eight selected teams will develop their skills and their projects with guidance from experienced television writers from New Zealand, Australia, USA and Denmark during the five-day immersive lab.
Writers and teams who will be participating in the inaugural Episodic Lab in Auckland July 23-27 are:

Participants biographies can be found at here

The Episodic Lab Aotearoa is made possible thanks to the generous support from NZ on AirLightboxNZ Film Commission and Images & Sound.

EPISODIC LAB AOTEAROA is for writers or teams who have already demonstrated talent and tenacity writing or creating for television, web series, theatre or film.

If you are applying as a team, the team should include those who are actively working on the story only. You may be a team of writers, or your team may include a director, producer, and/or actor(s) but only if they play a central part in story generation. You cannot apply without at least one writer.

Each writer or team can submit one or two episodic concepts.

The independent selection panel will consider the strength of applicants’ prior produced work, the quality and originality of the episodic concept, the craft ability of the writer(s), and the feasibility of getting the series up onto the screen.

Applications opened: Thursday 29 March, 2018
Applications close: Monday 7 May 2018, 10pm
5-day immersive lab: July 23-July 27, 2018, Auckland*

*Travel and accommodation will be provided for participants who live outside of Auckland

To apply you will need to provide the following in one .pdf document:

There is a $20 application fee. Please deposit this to the following account: Script to Screen Te Tari Kupu A Whakaahua – 0302550178775-00 Ref: Episodic Lab – Applicant name.


Note: Script to Screen and its EPISODIC LAB AOTEAROA partners, selectors, participants and advisors are contractually bound to confidentiality in relation to all projects submitted and workshopped as part of the lab. Participation in the lab does not require writers or teams to share or relinquish any intellectual property rights in relation to their projects.

The EPIDOSIC LAB AOTEAROA is made possible thanks to generous support from NZ On Air, Lightbox, the New Zealand Film Commission and Images & Sound.

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