New Zealand funding agencies, the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and NZ On Air have announced further development funding of $80,000 each to four scripted series projects.

In June this year, the two agencies partnered on Raupapa Whakaari Drama to the World, an initiative to support writer/producer teams to develop distinctive, high-end scripted series drama with international and domestic appeal.

The projects selected for further development funding are:

All Of Me - Shoshana McCallum, Natalie Medlock, Dan Musgrove, Peter Salmon
Depressed and ready to end it all, Lauren orders an illegal clone to replace her. But when she messes up the process and gets three unsatisfactory duplicates, she is forced to stick around and deal with herselves.

Ashes and Prophets - Kath Akuhata-Brown, Greg McGee, Philippa Rennie, Robin Scholes, Lee Tamahori
Arson, kidnapping and murder engulf a small New Zealand town, as a Māori rastafarian sect exacts revenge for historical land theft.

Rockburn - Hannah Marshall, Gareth Williams, David de Lautour, Kelly Martin
Trauma experienced as a teenager on her family farm, Rockburn, reverberates throughout three distinct ages of Celia Ray’s life. Now, a social worker in her 50s, she must confront her past to save a young girl’s future.

Drunk Poetry - Briar Grace-Smith, Desray Armstrong, Victor Rodger
Newly separated and in her forties, Lizzie discovers she has the emotional brain of a fourteen-year-old. Now she has to grow up all over again.

The four projects have been selected from 10 teams that participated in an intensive week-long Series Drama Lab with senior executives, showrunners, producers and writers from internationally acclaimed shows including Marcella, American Horror Story, Better Call Saul, Bloodline, Glee, Glitch, Please Like Me, Succession and Supergirl.

Following the Lab, the teams were then invited to submit their re-worked projects.

“The quality of the applicants for Raupapa Whakaari was exceptional and highlights the great storytellers we have in New Zealand,” said NZFC CEO, Annabelle Sheehan. “It was difficult to choose the final four with such strong candidates. The four chosen are truly original concepts and have the potential to resonate with both local and global audiences while remaining distinctively New Zealand stories.”

“The four projects selected come from terrific teams. All have the potential to become much loved stories locally and internationally. We are excited to see Raupapa Whakaari creating the environment for bold ideas to flourish,” said Jane Wrightson, CEO of NZ On Air.

More details

Project: All of Me

Shoshana McCallum comes from an acting background having studied at acclaimed ‘The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre’ in New York. On her return home, she moved into writing and works for both indie and network productions. In 2015, her television pilot, Animals was released online to critical acclaim and in 2016 she won the SWANZ award for Best Comedy Television Script for Step Dave and 2017, she followed it up with a SWANZ award win for Best Un-produced Screenplay Feature for Daisy Chain (with writing partner, Natalie Medlock). Her theatre credits include, Leopard and the much celebrated, Looking At Stuff In Clouds.

Dan Musgrove is an award-winning NZ screenwriter and playwright based in Auckland, NZ. His first attempt at screenwriting was a comedy short about the adult lives of former Anne Geddes models, completed while studying at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School. Recent screenwriting credits include storylining and scriptwriting on seasons 3-5 of Westside for South Pacific Pictures. Other screenwriting credits include Shearing The Love, a comedy feature script in development with Four Knights Films, additional writing for Supercity, Pork Pie, and scriptwriting for Shortland Street. His theatre-writing credits include Christ Almighty, Toys and the acclaimed Michael Hurst solo show No Holds Bard. His latest play The Defendant is in development with Auckland’s Silo Theatre Company.

Natalie Medlock works as a writer, actor and director. She started as an actor having graduated from Toi Whakaari and began her career devising theatre before moving into screen. Most recently Natalie was story producer on Neighbours. Prior to that she story-lined (season 3) and wrote for 800 Words (season 1 and 3), she also wrote for Agent Anna and has also storylined and written for season 3 of The Almighty Johnsons. Natalie has written on comedy-drama, Shearing The Love and has feature film, Daisy Chain in development with the NZFC. Natalie was short listed with her series Exillium for Australian Freemantle’s Blue Sky Initiative and wrote and stared in NZ On Air funded comedy webseries Yeti. Theatrically, Natalie wrote sell-out hit Christmas monologue shows Toys, and Christ Almighty! She also wrote and directed Michael Hurst’s solo show No Holds Bard and most recently, wrote and directed the critically acclaimed play Near Death Experience.

Peter Salmon is a director, producer and writer whose work spans network, cable and premium television drama. Over the last five years, Peter has directed a number of shows in Australia including Rake, Offspring, The Beautiful Lie, Harrow, and Doctor Doctor. Peter directed on the second series of the acclaimed thriller/comedy Wanted, which earned him a NZTV Award for Best Director and in 2018, he produced the third series for Matchbox Pictures and Netflix. Peter began his film and TV career in NZ where he wrote and directed three award-winning short films. Fog premiered in competition at Cannes Critics Week and Letters About The Weather was awarded a Special Jury prize at Clermont Ferrand.

Project: Ashes and Prophets

Kath Akuhata-Brown (Ngati Porou) is a Wellington based Filmmaker. She is a 2019 recipient of Te Aupounamu Māori Screen Excellence award from the New Zealand Film Commission and Ngā Aho Whakaari. Her television writing credits include Irikura, Haka Wāhine, Kaikooorero and Taonga. In film Kath is in development on her debut feature film Kōkā.

Greg McGee is a theatre, television and film writer. He is probably best known for his stage plays which are centrally concerned with the loss of collective values and individual altruism in an increasingly materialist and selfish society. These socio-political concerns have led McGee to television and film writing to reach a wider popular audience. His television writing has won several awards including Erebus : The Aftermath, Fallout with Tom Scott and drama Free Enterprise. McGee has written for a number of series, including Roche, Marlin Bay, and Cover Story. Greg McGee continued writing for screen, co-writing Old Scores, Via Satellite, and Crooked Earth. He created GREENSTONE in 1999 and between 2000 and 2005 McGee developed, story-edited, and wrote or co-wrote most of the 51 episodes Street Legal. The show has received a host of awards, including the 2003 NZTV Award for best Drama Series.

Lee Tamahori won acclaim with his first feature film Once Were Warriors (1994). Since then he has directed movies largely outside New Zealand including James Bond blockbuster Die Another Day and thriller The Edge. Tamahori had worked in the New Zealand film industry for more than a decade before Warriors made his name. He began his career as a commercial artist and photographer and joined the film industry in the late 1970s. He has worked as a boom operator on Kiwi classics Goodbye Pork Pie and Bad Blood and as the 1st AD on many films including Utu, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, The Quiet Earth, and Came A Hot Friday. In 1986 Tamahori co-founded Flying Fish. He went on to direct more than 100 commercials, including a number of award-winners. He directed the 1988 documentary about a visit to Ruatoria by band Herbs. Tamahori’s first venture into television drama was in 1989, an episode from Māori-driven drama series E Tipu E Rea Thunderbox.

Early in her career Robin Scholes lectured in Art History and Film Studies at Essex University and Auckland University. She went on to work for TVNZ, writing, directing and producing documentaries and magazine shows. She was a 1980 Fullbright Scholar attending New York Film School to study and make a feature documentary. Robin went on to be a founding partner of Communicado where she devised, financed and produced a wide range of television series. Most recently she produced The Bad Seed and has commenced pre-production on Series 2 of The New Legends Of Monkey for Netflix, ABC and TVNZ2. Previous drama includes The New Legends Of Monkey Series 1 and When We Go To War. Robin has produced many feature films including Mahana, Mr Pip, Crooked Earth, Broken English and Once Were Warriors. She was awarded an OBE in 1997 for her services to Film.

Philippa Rennie has 18 years’ experience in the film and television industry both in the UK and NZ. From 2007-2017 years she was Director of Business and Legal Affairs at Warner Bros. International Television Production where she worked on feature films Mr Pip, The Hope And Dreams OF Gazza Snell and Mahana. She has extensive experience working on unscripted programmes such as The Block and Survivor, as well as on drama series Burying Brian and What Really Happaned Waitangi/Votes For Women. In 2017 she became the Head of Scripted for Warner Bros and was the Executive Producer on black comedy Fresh Eggs produced for TVNZ, and has several other scripted projects in development with local and international platforms.

Project: Rockburn

Hannah Marshall is a New Zealand actor, writer and director who has worked in numerous productions in New Zealand, Australia and the US. She is best known for her role as Loretta Schembri in Channel 7’s Packed To The Rafters for which she was nominated for a Logie, and critically acclaimed indie hit The Infinite Man which premiered at SXSW. She was back on NZ screens in The Bad Seed and soon in the telefeature, Ablaze and recently worked on HBO/Apple’s The Morning Show with Reese Witherspoon. Hannah co-wrote the first season of the TVNZ drama series, Alibi, and directed the final episode, to critical acclaim. Hannah will also direct her short Franki Jean & The Morning Star in 2019, and is in development with her first feature, Girl One both with the NZFC.

David de Lautour is a New Zealand actor and director best known to Kiwi audiences for his role as Ted West on Three’s hit show Westside a series that he now directs as well as starring in. David’s other most notable directing credits include the crime drama Alibi, for TVNZ, Gin Wigmore’s music video, ‘Dirty Mercy’, for Universal Music as well as TV pilot Undocumented, shot in New York. Alibi has recently been bought by CBS Studios and David is being penned as a director on the show as well as writing and executive producing. David also directed The Conversation, a short by Hannah Marshall. David’s writing credits include the web-series Salon-O-Phobia, made in Los Angeles, and three short films that have played at festivals worldwide. He has also written three feature films.

Gareth Williams is an award-winning producer, director and actor. A graduate of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, he has received numerous accolades for a long line up of work. In 2014, Gareth teamed up with filmmaker Curtis Vowell (Fantail, Baby Done), to create Squiz, a platform for locally made short-form content. Gareth formed Plus6Four Entertainment with David de Lautour and Hannah Marshall. In 2018, he produced the crime thriller series, Alibi, for TVNZ, which he is now developing with CBS Studios for a U.S. version of the show. Gareth is also in development with Marshall and the NZFC for the feature film, Girl One, as well as co-producing Marshall’s latest short, Frankie Jean & The Morning Star, also funded through NZFC.

Kelly Martin is CEO of South Pacific Pictures, New Zealand’s leading film and television production company. Kelly has over 25 years experience in New Zealand television, having worked at both the major networks of TVNZ and Mediaworks Three. Some of the local productions Kelly is most proud of bringing to the screen include Outrageous Fortune, The Almighty Johnsons, The Strip, The Secret Life Of Dancers, numerous documentaries, and the development of Three’s successful comedy strategy, which started with BroTown and has included The Jaquie Brown Diaries, Hounds, Jono & Ben and 7 Days. Since joining SPP in 2012, Kelly has worked as the Executive Producer of Shortland Street, Step Dave, Westside, The Bad Seed, Brokenwood Mysteries and No.1 Australian drama 800 Words for Channel Seven. She is currently producing her first feature, This Town.

Project: Drunk Poetry

Briar Grace-Smith (Ngā Puhi) is a writer of short fiction, stage plays and feature films. Her plays include Ngā Pou Wāhine, Purapurawhetu and When Sun And Moon Collide. She is an inaugural Arts Foundation Laureate and has received an ONZM for services to film, television and theatre. She was the 2019 recipient of the Merata Mita Fellowship, has worked as a Development Executive for the NZFC, taught ‘Writing for Theatre’ at IIML and continues to work as a story mentor in New Zealand and overseas. Briar is a Sundance alumni and the writer of the feature films The Strength Of Water and horror comedy Fresh Meat. Her TV credits include Fishskin Suit, Being Eve, Kaitangata Twitch and Grace Beside Me. She wrote and directed Charm for the collaborative feature project Waru. She recently worked with Toi Whakaari’s acting and design students directing Krystal. Briar wrote the novel adaptation of Cousins which she will co-direct with Ainsley Gardiner in 2019.

Victor Rodger is a Christchurch born and raised writer of Samoan (Iva) and Scottish (Broughty Ferry) descent. An award winning playwright, his works Black Faggot, My Name Is Gary Cooper and Puzzy have been performed nationally and internationally. Victor was a longtime writer for Shortland Street and his other television credits include This Is Piki which he co-wrote with Briar Grace Smith. Victor currently heads the Māori and Pasifika Creative Writing Workshop at the International Institute of Modern Letters at the University of Victoria in Wellington.

Desray Armstrong is an independent producer with a diverse slate of credits and a wealth of physical production experience. She has produced documentaries, factual series, music videos and award-winning short films including Meathead by Sam Holst, Ellen Is Leaving and Bats by Michelle Savill, Snowmen by Jonathan Brough and recently completed Jessica Sanderson’s debut short Ways To See. She produced Dustin Feneley’s independent feature, Stray, which premiered in competition at the 2018 Moscow International Film Festival and won Best Actor. She was awarded WIFT Woman to Watch in 2016, SPADA Independent Producer of the Year in 2018 and the NAW Te Kai Ngakahi Melissa Wikaire Award in 2019.