NZ’s Gender Scholarship 2020

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L-R: Becky Kuek, Madeleine Sami & Jacki van Beek, Ana Scotney, Paloma Schneideman, Abba Rose Dinah Vaiaoga-Ioasa, Florence Noble

The New Zealand Film Commission has provided a Gender Scholarship every year since 2015 (in previous years for cinematographers, directors, wāhine Māori directors and Pacific Island screen writers). And this year, five $10,000 scholarships have been awarded to women in comedy, selected by uber-multihyphenates Madeline Sami and Jackie Van Beek (remember e.g. their The Breaker Upperers?) from 120 applications by a range of comedy creators, working in print, stage, film, television and online.

“We were absolutely blown away that over 120 amazingly talented and hilarious women applied for the gender scholarship! The calibre and variety of talent from producers to writers, performers and directors was inspiring and made it extremely challenging to choose the final five recipients,” said Jackie and Madeleine.

After reading and watching their submitted work, Madeline and Jackie as ‘the Patrons’ (perhaps more appropriately ‘Matrons’) spoke with each shortlisted woman to discover more about her and her aspirations.

“Our five recipients have all demonstrated the ability to create exceptional work. Each has a distinct and original voice and clear vision for their comedy content. We are super excited to support these women and can’t wait to see what they produce in the future.”

The scholarship award will allow each of the recipients time to concentrate on writing, making and collaborating on comedy content, and building industry connections to assist with developing sustainable careers.

Here’s more about each of them. Warm congratulations to them! And look out for their work!

Abba Rose Dinah Vaiaoga-Ioasa began her career by following her love for science and worked in the Engineering industry as a Process Engineer gaining a lot of valuable project management experience. Abba-Rose has only been in the screen industry for just over three years but has already produced and associate produced four independent feature films; Three Wise Cousins (2016), Hibiscus & Ruthless (2018), Same But Different: A True New Zealand Love Story (2018), and Take Home Pay (2019). She is currently developing more screen content, building her knowledge of the screen industry, and developing her skills as a professional content producer.

Ana Scotney is part of some of Aotearoa’s most original, radical and groundbreaking comedic productions. Credits include a break out role as Sepa, the hard done by girlfriend in feature film The Breaker Upperers, a performer in comedy D.O.C.ing with Tom Sainsbury and Chris Parker, which was nominated for the FRED award at the Comedy Festival in 2017, and as Maria in hit improvised comedy series The Educators. Scotney also works as a designer and animator on cartoon animated series Aroha Bridge produced by Jess Hansell, AKA Coco Solid. Upcoming films include Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace Smith’s adaptation of Patricia Grace’s Cousins, and New Zealand director Michelle Savill’s debut feature film, Millie Lies Low.

Becky Kuek is a multi-genre writer and director with a strength for crafting fast, witty comedy fuelled by a compelling underlying story. After a 10+ year career as an actor, Becky transitioned to writing and directing when the desire to have more input in projects became impossible to ignore. Immediately following a year of editing, writing and voice acting for animation heavyweight, Mukpuddy, Becky received funding to create, write and direct NZ’s first Asian animated TV series, Tales of Nai Nai, and assembled and led a talented, diverse team of local writers, artists and actors. While animation has been a career-launcher for Becky, her sights are firmly set on writing and directing live-action film and TV.

Paloma Schneideman is a screenwriter, director and musician based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Her university graduate film Mine premiered at the NZIFF 2015. The music videos she co-directs under alias Connie Ca$h have over 100,000 views online and counting. She was also guest director on season 2 of acclaimed comedy web series Baby Mama’s Club. Her short film, Memory Foam premiered at NZIFF 2019 and Show Me Shorts Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor (Alison Bruce). Paloma is currently developing her debut feature film script, Big Girls Don’t Cry.

Florence Noble began her career writing amusing copy and directing radio ads. Leaving copywriting behind, she moved into television and film. Noble created the online sketch comedy Blind Pilot, and since then has collaborated with Nick Boshier (Bondi Hipsters, Beached Az) on numerous projects, including the 2014 Emmy award winning Australian comedy, #7DaysLater for ABC2 and viral sketch comedy Meanwhile On Earth. She turned NZME’s low budget drama Waiheke Republique into a comedy and directed it, making all six episodes in four days. Florence’s short film Things Are Going Really Well did the festival circuit including the LA Comedy Festival, Sweden’s Norrkoping Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival, where she attended the 2015 Accelerator Program.

Marian Evans. Stories by & about women artists, writers and filmmakers. Global outlook, from Aotearoa New Zealand.

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