Creative Profiles
CREATIVE PROFILE: MINGJIAN CUI

I am a student specialising screenwriting, and I am currently working on a feature screenplay.

I want to be a versatile filmmaker who works with various media platforms, and become a freelance writer/sound editor/editor/Foley artist.

Lacking experiences; Not familiar with the film world in NZ; Struggling to write true stories about my own community and ethnicity.

I think I would like to meet more Asian filmmakers and work as a team to produce our own stories.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien (director/screenwriter/actor); Jean Tsien (Editor/Sound designer); Jia ZhangkeDirector;  Zhong Acheng (Screenwriter); Hirokazu Kore-edaDirector/screenwriter/editor

1.  As  writer/ director:

“Lunch” – A short written, directed and edited by Mingjian Cui 2015

https://vimeo.com/182776860/97f99c390a

2. As editor:

“Heavy Weight”, a 2016 short directed by Jennifer Silver; Picture edit by Mingjian Cui

https://vimeo.com/182772676/d38191865a

3.  As sound mixer on set and sound designer in post:

“Exposure”, a 2016 short directed by Mary Jeanes; Sound designed, Foley, and edited by Mingjian Cui

https://vimeo.com/182803483/ff44d3141e

4. As production designer and sound designer in post:

“The koi”, a 2016 short directed by Qiyu Zhou; Production design, sound editing and foley by Mingjian Cui

https://vimeo.com/182803622/c0dc940098

5.  As DOP:

“Some Air”, a 2015 short directed by Ovieto Santiago;  Cinematography by Mingjian Cui

https://vimeo.com/182797695/6e051f1a6a

 

Copyright to above belongs to Florida State University

Mingjian Cui is from Nanjing, China. This is her seventh year living abroad, and first year in New Zealand.

She was trained as a backpack journalist during undergraduate study at Purdue University, Indiana State, and has been devoted to and enjoying every aspect of video production since then.

As an MFA student at the Florida State University, College of Motion Picture Art, with a specialisation in sound design, she learned the art and craft of visual storytelling, and found her passion in sound editing, sound recording, sound mixing, and Foley art.

She has been learning and practicing narrative editing for news, documentaries, promos, Television and short films.

She gained production experience on 40 student short films in ATL and BTL positions: producer, director, production designer, cinematographer, editor, sound editor, AE, sound mixer/boom operator, script supervisor, 1st and 2nd assistant director, 1st and 2nd camera, art director, best boy electric, key grip, and gaffer.

She is currently majoring in Screenwriting at the University of Auckland, and working on a feature screenplay based on her personal life.

A huge fan of Walter Murch, she wants to be a versatile filmmaker like him and become a screenwriter/ sound designer / film editor in the future.

CREATIVE PROFILE: JING CHEN

I am a master student of screen production in University of Auckland. My current project is a documentary about life of a young Chinese immigrant who is pursuing his dream while battling the reality of life in New Zealand.

I’ve watched a lot of documentaries and also done many of documentary academic researches when I was in postgraduate. My first independent directing work ‘To be or not to be’ tells the story of Luke Hurley, a kiwi busker, the documentary explores the genesis and pain behind his music and lyrics and his daily life. In fact, I wasn’t expecting much good feedback from the audiences but after Luke himself watching it he told me that he was excited by it and that finally someone understood him. He also said that some friends who he has lost contact with for a long time have gotten back in touch with him after seeing the documentary. Though the project was over me and Luke stayed as friends and we would catch up and chat about music and dreams over coffee. I really enjoy this kind of connection. It makes me to feel real. A documentary brought two people who come from totally different culture and nationalities together and bonded us, such experience fuels my passion and creativity of making documentary.

A documentary cannot change the world, it might not even get noticed by anyone but as long as there is one person who watches it and was influenced by it, and that it might have made his or her world a bit different, then that’s enough to keep me striving. I hope to keep on telling stories of every day people’s lives as they live them.

I am about to finish my study in University of Auckland but I have got no working experience. I am not sure about my chances of making it in the New Zealand film industry as an overseas Chinese student.

I hope to engage and get involved with local film community. It’d be great if I could get a job opportunity even if it wasn’t long term work.

My favourite Asian filmmaker is Jia Zhangke

Jing Chen was born in China, a documentary filmmaker. She obtained Bachelor of Arts in Radio and TV Editing in 2015 in Shen Yang Conservatory of Music and Postgraduate Diploma in Arts specialized in Media Film and TV in 2016 in the University of Auckland. She is currently studying in screen production under Master of Arts in the University Of Auckland.

CREATIVE PROFILE: JULIAN JAYASEELA VICTOR
After successfully producing over 10 feature length commercial films in Malaysia and numerous programs for TV I have moved permanently to NZ.
Currently I am developing scripts for International co-productions and also films that would have a strong Kiwi flavour and be enjoyed abroad. I want to be a New Zealand film producer who makes kiwi films and develop a thriving film industry here in NZ.

Currently the lack of local knowledge and contacts.

Being still relatively new to the country I need to meet other film makers and to put together an effective film team, I do need information on how I can finance films. I would welcome any advice I can get in this quest.

My favourite Asian filmmaker is Osman Ali.

See Julian’s work at Nuansa Films

After successfully producing over 10 feature length commercial films in Malaysia and numerous programs for TV I have moved permanently to NZ. Currently I am developing scripts for International co-productions and also films that would have a strong Kiwi flavour and be enjoyed abroad. I want to be a New Zealand film producer who makes kiwi films and develop a thriving film industry here in NZ. Being still relatively new to the country I need to meet other film makers and to put together an effective film team, I do need information on how I can finance films. I would welcome any advice I can get in this quest. My favourite film maker in Asia is of course Osman Ali, I have produced 10 of his films!

CREATIVE PROFILE: ROSEANNE LIANG
I’m a director-screenwriter, and I’m currently working on a slate of genre TV and action films.

I aspire to be a humanist, serial screen storyteller who makes profitable entertaining genre works that also mean something.

Self doubt. Time management.

Finding the money for the films :). Smart marketing and understanding a given audience for a project.

My favourite Asian filmmaker is Ang Lee.

From NZ On Screen:

Chinese New Zealander Roseanne Liang took an unusual path into filmmaking. She first made a splash with Banana in a Nutshell, based on her own cross-cultural romance with a European Kiwi. The documentary won multiple awards, including SPADA New Filmmaker of 2005; then she turned it into movie rom-com My Wedding and Other Secrets. Liang has also directed Berlin-winning short Take 3, and hit web series Flat3. Roseanne’s latest short film Do Not Harm has been successfully playing the international festival circuit.

“Probably the most difficult thing was separating the documentary from the film. Even though the documentary forms the backbone of the film, you really have to find out what makes fiction work.”

Roseanne Liang, on making a movie out of her documentary Banana in a Nutshell

CREATIVE PROFILE: MEI CHAN
I’m a Public Law Legal Executive by day. I haven’t turned my mind to any new screenplays since my film “Love & Luksaah”. I will say that I’m hoping to do something like “Pitch Perfect” but on pole-dancing and pole-dancers.
Aspiration is a fickle and funny thing. I used to aspire to be a writer but that didn’t pan out. Then I wanted to be a film composer and that flatlined. Finally, there was a tiny glimmer of hope to be a filmmaker but the toll it took on me came at a personal cost. Today I’m a pole-dancing artist and athlete, and if I can merge my love for pole and filmmaking together, then I’ll do that.

The obstacles are always financial ones. If I were to make my pole-dancing movie, I’d also risk stepping on toes. Luckily, I’m not a studio owner and I know the New Zealand pole community very well.

To make this film, I’ll need a lot of help from all levels. But to start off, someone who gets my vision and offers ideas that I didn’t even think of that will make this idea of mine come to life.

My favourite Asian filmmaker is Stephen Chow Sing Chi.

Mei Chan works in the law and  a trained legal executive. S Born in Penang, Mei now lives in Wellington and Malaysia
By night:  student of Wing Tsun Kung Fu and Pole-Dance Artist and Athlete he also loves pole dancing and has the Stage name: Tiger Fury.
Favourite film(s):   “The Exorcist” and the Kung Fu Panda trilogy
Favourite food:  Laksa and Taukua Sumbat
Comfort food:  Noodles
CREATIVE PROFILE: JULIE ZHU
I currently work as a freelancer which means every day is different and I’m always working on a million different things. I love it even though it gives me huge anxiety.
Most of my work is currently in theatre – I work part time at Red Leap Theatre, I’m producing the upcoming season of The Mountaintop by Katori Hall which stars Dave Fane and Nicole Whippy and is directed by Fasitua Amosa, I produce the weekly improv show Snort, and I’m just about to start rehearsals for Silo Theatre’s Peter and the Wolf where I’ll be their live videographer which I’m really excited about as it kind of allows me to bridge theatre and film.
This year I made a short doco called East Meets East for Loading Docs and also co-produced and shot the short doco PUORO for Someday Stories.
What I really hope to get out of life is just knowing that I’ve made an impact in some way. I love working at the intersection of art and activism because I love the power of storytelling to really make a difference and shift attitudes. I hope the work I continue to do is able to keep making some sort of social impact and create more empathy and kindness in the world.

I think as a society we still have huge inequities that face certain groups and these issues are systemic which means they need to be addressed systemically. I think the tide is starting to turn (or I hope it is) where people are really starting to listen and acknowledge that we need to make room for those underrepresented voices to finally start to shine and be prioritised. In this way, this is starting to become a great time to be an Asian filmmaker in Aotearoa NZ as there are so many more people to connect to who also share your passion and it allows for us to tell a diversity of stories that don’t always have to return to cultural angst or identity crises.

I’d love to delve more deeply into film and also to start developing more of my cinematography skills. There are so few women in cinematography and stats like those always get me riled up to change them.

Not sure actually! I loved hearing So Yong Kim speak at Big Screen Symposium a few weeks ago though.

Julie Zhu is a filmmaker, theatre producer and photographer born in Xi’an, China and raised in Auckland. She has a BA (Hons) in Screen Production and a Diploma of Language in Te Reo Māori. Julie has written and directed several short films and was the DOP on Todd Karehana’s The Spectacular Imagination of the Pōhara Brothers, which screened in NZIFF 2016 and several indigenous film festivals internationally. She was the 2016 Producer in Residence at Basement Theatre and is highly passionate about using the power of art and storytelling to enable positive social change.

Follow Julie Zhu on Twitter.

CREATIVE PROFILE: KELLY CHEN
After my screen arts degree specialising in camera at Unitec, I have been working as a freelancing camera assistant for film, tv, and commercials as my bread and butter. They range from kid’s TV shows such as The Moe Show to casual days on Shortland Street and other dramas, to feature films. On the side, I would shoot low-budget short films and music videos to further my craft as a Director of Photography. The two bigger projects this year I’m involved with are web series. One I shot in July called Baby Mama’s Club, directed by Hanelle Harris, which was about four Polynesian women whose lives are intertwined by having the same man as their boyfriend/partner/friend. Another one is in production in October called Friday night Bites Season 2 (Formerly known as Flat3) for which I’m co-shooting with another Asian DOP called Daryl Wong. Another one which I really enjoyed working on this year was called East meets East, directed by Julie Zhu, a little documentary that show-cased the ordinary lives of Chinese grandparents in NZ.  Over the years, as more Chinese productions find favour to shoot in NZ, I have also been involved as a translator on film sets, or the ‘middle-person’ to help with production. The first one of these is the Chinese TV show ‘Dad, where are we going?” around 3 years ago. I’m about to head into another Chinese and NZ co-production shooting in Queenstown this November (speaking of which, we are still looking for Chinese male extras!)

 

So, coming to what I aspire to be. First, and foremost, I would love to shoot more and create more beautiful images. I would love to collaborate with more Asian creatives to tell stories from our immigrant perspectives. I would also love to see and be involved with more Chinese and NZ co-productions, either shooting in NZ, or shooting in Asian countries. This is a new and exciting role for which I’m still learning, as there are cultural differences and language barriers that very much comes down to how we communicate.

My biggest obstacle in this line of work is networking! I find that I get most of my work through word of mouth (crazy isn’t it?!), so networking is one of the most crucial elements to gain stability in this type of work.

Zhang Yimou – his earlier works: The Bright Red Lanterns Hung high, and To live, are two of my favourite films.

My name is a Kelly Kuan-yu Chen. I and 30 yrs old, born in Taiwan, immigrated to NZ with my parents and three other siblings when she was was nine. I had a science degree from Auckland University and a performing screen arts degree specialising in cinematography from Unitec. I am a big foodie, coffee lover and was a barista during my school days. Even though I’ve been here for 20 years, I can still read, write, and speak fluent mandarin, this is something I’ve really held on to, and feel tremendously blessed about, my heritage.

CREATIVE PROFILE: HWEILING OW
I’ve been producing and acting for the last 10 years. Recently, I find myself writing and directing a bit more. I am one of two recipients of the Women’s Short Horror Fund for NZ Film Commission.
Money. There hasn’t been an increase in funding for NZ On Air for the last 10 years. So we’ve had to find various ways to fund our projects. Its been great because it also becomes a way to learn how to become resourceful and find alternative ways to fund the projects.

I am planning to move more and more into the directing and writing and would love to be able to give it my fullest focus. Grants for that kind of thing would be awesome and a superb producer I can work with. I am keen and looking forward to us all cross empowering each other.

To embrace the idea of pursuing film making takes a really special individual to go against the status quo and constant ridicule that exists in the culture I grew up in. So anyone Malaysian who is able to do that is a hero of mine. James Wan is an example of this. And of course my amazing super duper awesome friend Roseanne Liang of whom we share similar philosophies of respecting everyone that comes on set to help contribute to the vision of the project.

6 Weeks of Horror, 2017

Click here to visit Hweiling Ow’s Youtube Channel

Hweiling has been acting and producing for the last 15 years. She has been in Shortland Street, Agent Anna, AFK, Friday Night Bites and been in various theatre plays that have toured around the country from Two Fish and A Scoop to Under The Same Moon. A veteran at 48hours, she is recently moving into more directing an writing, and recently received the Women’s Short Horror Fund. She is also currently producing Ao-terror-oa and AFK which has both received the Skip Ahead and NZ On Air funding respectively.

CREATIVE PROFILE: KIM WEBBY
I am mainly  a documentary director and an occasional and fairly reluctant producer.  I have a few things on the go at the moment.   Working with producer Vincent Burke, we have development funding for a feature documentary on indigenous whaling.  That one’s going fairly slowly so in the meantime this year I have just completed three half hour programmes for Maori TVs Native Affairs programme.  They were on suicide, Maori imprisonment rates and racism so they were pretty meaty topics which brought up some really interesting discriminatory facts for dissection.  For the remainder of the year I’m easing back on the intense topics, with some work on Kai Safari and Coast, basically a chance to explore our fantastic countryside and head for the beach while calling it work.

I aspire to be an agent of change through documentary.  Maybe change is too lofty  a word but I do hope to give people alternative perspectives through my work and a greater understanding of issues, particularly around race, fairness, equality, any power imbalances really.   Of course I also aspire to tell a ripping good story at the same time and be reasonably entertaining.

The usual ones that we all know and deal with on a daily basis, funding, funding and funding.  I think it can be even more difficult when working in a so-called “niche” area at the margins of mainstream.   If middle aged white men are making most of the decisions, unconscious bias argues that anything or anybody “other” often doesn’t get a look in.

I think  the greatest help is in working collaboratively with like minded, hard working, talented people.  Luckily I know them in droves.  Networking is really useful – for me that just means talking and getting to know other people, so networking events can be really helpful.  Also workshops on film related topics – a great chance to learn and meet new collaborators.

This changes frequently depending on what I’ve watched in the last year or so.  Currently I think my fave is Korean born director Bong Joon Ho who made Okja for Netflix. I’m surprised it isn’t on the big screen.  If you haven’t seen Okja, it combines Tilda Swinton with a fantastic 13-year-old Korean female actor, An Seo-hyun,  a large CGI pig, along with some animal rights activists set against the backdrop of corporate greed and human gluttony.

The Price of Peace, 2015  Tā Moko, 2007

See more from Kim Webby here.

Kim Webby is a half Chinese half Pakeha filmmaker, withthirty years experience in the NZ film and television industries.She completed her first cinematic feature length documentary The Price of Peace in 2015. It has received critical acclaim both in New Zealand and overseas and five international and domestic awards. In 2017 she has made a foray into virtual reality 360 film-making as NZ producer for Finding Haka, a docu-drama on haka and rugby made by London company Surround Vision.Kim has directed numerous television documentaries and long-form series for television. She first began directing while working as a TVNZ reporter. Alongside stints on Fair Go and 60 Minutes, she has been a reporter for One News, Eye Witness, Newsnight and presenter for One News, 60 Minutes and Newsnight.She has also worked extensively as a television producer, including Asia Down Under, Marae DIY and Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson. She is currently director / reporter of three half hour specials for Native Affairs for Maori Television.

Find more about Kim Webby here.

Contact Kim

CREATIVE PROFILE: BENJAMIN TEH
I am always entertaining ideas about new plays or screen projects. Specifically, I am looking to develop a play called “The Yellow Taniwha” about a lost Chinese dragon in rural New Zealand.
On a web series called “Potential” with my friend Mayen Mehta. And have been acting in a few short films. “Mother”, about Chinese miners during the 1860s NZ gold rush. “Deadline”, about procrastination personified in the guise of a anthropomorphic panda. “Real Cowboy”, about a young man who wants to be a real gunslinger.

I aspire to be a professional with a creative career that will be financially sustainable. I would like to write and act full time. Direct from time to time. Work on music and graphic novels in my spare time. I very much want to work at an international capacity.

I think previously there was a vast underrepresentation of Asian creatives on an international scale. But we are living in an exciting time where now anyone can put forward their work. And I believe that almost everyone can find their niche audience if they keep putting work out there for the world to find.  Opportunities are also an issue. But now it is about finding people to pitch ideas to. Or creating your own opportunities. In a world where everyone and their grandma has a smartphone, anyone can start making short films. With programs like garageband, anyone can make music. With Microsoft Word, anyone can write a novel. Find your favourite artists, and support their work.

This is a tricky one. Everyone needs various degrees of moral, emotional, and financial support. Even if sometimes you have to be your own source of inspiration and nourishment. Connecting with other creatives is always a benefit. Experiencing other people’s art is always amazing. I would say…make more art. And then share it with the world. That helps. If not me, then it will help someone else. Connect with me. Collaborate with me. Link me to opportunities. Hire me to work with you.

Locally? Daryl Wong at Angle3 Pictures.  Followed closely by Roseanne Liang and Hweiling Ow. Internationally? Park Chan-wook. But both Ang Lee and John Woo deserve special mentions.

Benjamin Teh was originally introduced to videography and filmmaking via 11 years of skateboarding. Through making skate videos, he developed a love for short-lived love for cinematography but a long-term fascination with directing. The night before enrolling for university, his father mentioned that he should studying acting, so he’d know how to talk to actors, and that sparked off another interest as well. Then in his MA year of tertiary study, he was not selected for the directing course…but was invited to study screenwriting instead. And that changed everything. He now identifies primarily as a writer, who acts, and who can be persuaded to direct. Benjamin is interested in everything to do with projects for the screen, for the stage; as well as dance, music, graphic novels and martial arts. He has stopped skateboarding, but misses it constantly.

CREATIVE PROFILE: CALVIN SANG

I’m director at a commercial video production company called Eyes and Ears. That definitely takes up most of my time. Outside of that, recently, I’ve just finished up working on Asian Men Talk About Sex (Chye-Ling Huang directed, I shot and edited) and I directed a TVNZ OnDemand miniseries called the Han Chronicles.

Currently, I’m writing a new short film at the moment that is still in its very early stages. In hoping to take that around to festivals once it’s finished.

I want to be a feature film director in NZ and also overseas.

Getting noticed and getting funding are always big obstacles.

Also, I need to put aside more time to work on getting into more projects that will head in a feature film direction.

Script development. Funding!

Ang Lee is awesome. But I might be biased because I met him when he came to NZ once.

 Working as a director at video production company Eyes and Ears, Calvin has been making films, documentaries and commercials for over a decade. He strives for creating strong stories with high production values and has been recognised with multiple awards for his work: including being a 4-time city finalist and grand finalist for 48Hours, and winning Best Cinematography and Editing.

Calvin also runs a popular YouTube channel (CalvinSang) that has produced some viral short films and comedy skits to international and local audiences.

CREATIVE PROFILE: SHUCHI KOTHARI

I am primarily a screenplay writer, who occasionally produces as well.   I just completed a Gujarati language short film “Shit One Carries” that was shot entirely in India.   At the moment I’m working on a transnational anime screenplay set in USA and Japan.  I also teach and convene the Screen Production programme at the University of Auckland. 

My aspirations have little do with my work. I aspire to accept the impermanence of everything with equanimity. 

The lack commitment towards diversity on screen alongside narrow definitions of “New Zealandness” were definite impediments I experienced in my early days in New Zealand. An Asian absence on screen politicised us into forming collectives like A Thousand Apologies. I’m not suggesting it’s easier for younger Asians entering the industry today–just look at the NZOA diversity statistics.  While there are definitely more avenues through which to make and distribute diverse work now, we must continue to lobby for fairer distribution of resources and continue to challenge all non-inclusive notions of being and becoming Kiwi.  Plus those of us who are further along in our filmmaking careers must make the time to mentor young Asian creatives when they ask for our help.

Yasujiro Ozu, Hayao Miyazaki, Tsai Ming Liang among others.  

Shuchi Kothari writes screenplays for the film industries in New Zealand, India, and USA. She has also produced short films of international acclaim and for television, New Zealand’s first prime-time Asian show titled A Thousand Apologies.She has written and/or produced several award winning films (Apron StringsFiraaq, Coffee & AllahFleeting Beauty) that have screened at international festivals as diverse as Toronto, Telluride, Venice, Cannes, and Busan. Among other projects, she’s currently writing an animated feature screenplay set in USA and Japan.  Her other research interests are digital storytelling, and narratives of food cultures. Shuchi’s feature film Firaaq (2008) has screened at prestigious film festivals around the world, and has won 14 international awards. In 2010 Shuchi was nominated in the “best story” catetory for the Star Screen Awards in India. Her creative work reflects her interest in issues related to migration, settlement, South Asian diaspora, and Indian cinema. She is the recipient of the New Zealand Film Commission’s Writer’s Award for 2009.

CREATIVE PROFILE: Dr RACHEL SINGH

Just recently completed a Bollywood feature film PARESHAAN PARINDA (A Troubled Soul) that was shot in Australia & Singapore. Currently the film is in post and due for India & Global release early-mid 2018. Our website is yet to be updated with the title as currently still reads ONE NIGHT (working title). Cast & Crew were from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and India. 

My vision is to continue producing Global Stories interwoven with NZ elements and collectively develop an Oceanic Industry where aspiring filmmakers can flourish. This has also lead me to become a mentor in the South East Asia Bollywood forum. 

Funding tops the obstacle list however, the (3 P’s) Passion, Proactive, Persistence – are key drivers as far as I’m concerned and cannot deter me from reaching the goal that comes closer with every feature film I Produce.

Local bodies the likes of – NZFC, ATEED, NZ Tourism, etc. to get behind filmmakers like us and support with sales, marketing, distribution, acquisitions. 

Jack Neo comes to mind for an Asian filmmaker. 

CREATIVE PROFILE: SAPNA SAMANT

I am a creative and a doctor. At this moment I am in the Fellowship programme for general practitioners and work pretty much full time as a primary care doctor. In my creative avatar I am a filmmaker and writer. My first short film as a director is ready for film festival entry, another short film script ready for me to direct and which I shall start pitching next year. I am also working on a documentary film that we shoot as suitable and other on going bits of writing and semi formed ideas as usual . I have produced radio documentaries/shows in the past and am keen to get back to that at some point. All my work, whether medicine or creative, is about minorities, migration, displacement and exile.

That is a huge question. I will try to break it down. On a creative level I want to tell stories that we carry with us and make us think. I am also interested in providing a platform for other storytellers. As a doctor I want to be able to provide caring, empathetic service. Be a good human being who can use my privilege and position to make a difference.

As a migrant woman of colour I have to develop my own opportunities because the creative funding system is geared towards mainstream stories that fit a fixed template. Diversity in this model is just a commodity, a tick box exercise. There is no active engagement with creatives like me to work out how we can work together other than fitting the template. Also the current ‘investment’ nature of the system is focussed on monetary returns rather than growing talent. Of course if I was obeisant and supplicant to this system and the people that run it then I am set up for failure because I am telling stories to fit someone else’s idea of how it should be rather than being true to myself. So being critical does not help with the funding. Never mind that you have already proven yourself with completed award winning works made on your own steam.

Of course one can always go to the community for support because I am telling stories from and about the community. However the concept of supporting  your own artists/creatives is alien to minority migrant communities even if they are well settled and integrated. Philanthropy is an unknown concept. What the community supports is grassroots, amateur hobby like recreation of ‘culture’ from back home rather than any original works that would help art and creativity grow. These are the two main hurdles. However I have a very strong belief in myself and what I want to do and I always manage to find others who feel the same way.

a-Seed funding that allows you to develop works at a faster pace.

b-Producers/directors/writers who are engaged with ethnic minorities as stakeholders and with ownership of the stories; who have a genuine interest and not just use us and our stories to make meaningless fluff for their own tick-the-box exercise.

c-POC/migrant/diasporic creatives in executive positions on funding bodies to greenlight projects because they know and understand the importance of our stories. (I want to give an example here of way when I was assessing applications for Creative Communities, Auckland Council and thought the Indian community theatre group Prayas that wanted to do English adaptations of Indian playwrights should be funded. This group, though not yet fully lived up to its potential, is now ten years old and has two productions a year with increasing engagement from the community. I was also part of a group brought together by Creative New Zealand some years ago to look at ways of developing Asian arts in Auckland. As a result of that the North Foundation now gives $40,000 for Asian arts and Proudly Asian Theatre and producer Sharu Delikan are two recipients. Too slow and too little but better than nothing.)

d-A diasporic network of investors and philanthropists keen to work with creatives telling the stories that we do.

CREATIVE PROFILE: JACK WOON

I freelance as a film and TV producer, director and editor. I’ve just come back from a TV documentary shoot in Tibet and Xinjiang, China, working for NHNZ, and will be in post production for the rest of the year. I’m also editing the new feature film by the producers of Three Wise Cousins. There’s also some tourism corporate projects which I manage from my Dunedin studio and a script I’m working on…

A director with access to a decent budget! At the moment I’m focused on going down the path I’m already on, working on anything with new filmmaking challenges and an environment that demands and enables quality.

Mostly internal obstacles – finding the motivation to keep working on to the next script and staying creative can be a difficult when balancing with challenging day jobs.

Meeting the right people is the most important thing. A network of talented people to work with and learn from.

Jackie Chan in the 1980s.

CREATIVE PROFILE: CHYE-LING HUANG

I am the creative director and co-founder of a theatre company, Proudly Asian Theatre. I’m also an actress, director, writer and puppeteer. We run a playreading featuring Asian directors, actors and writers each month and we make and produce plays. I’ve just finished The Han Chronicles, a 2 part comedy web series pilot with TVNZ about my Chinese Dad in the 70’s, and Asian Men Talk About Sex, a 3 min Loading Docs documentary challenging taboos and stereotypes around sex and race. I’m in promotion mode for these projects, and pitching relentlessly for funding for more episodes of both.

A storyteller with the ability to change people’s perceptions of others, especially minorities and Asian people, and to be a role model who can empower my community on a practical level.

None if you stay fired up and find like minded people! POC can do anything and everything and I can’t wait to see Asian talent in all sorts of roles. I would say general lack of support for developing filmmakers, though this is changing. Lack of government support for the arts and growing our incredible filmmakers here – a lot of Kiwis have to leave to make anything happen in the feature realm, which weakens our industry. Theatre companies and filmmakers ignoring POC talent in New Zealand, or sidelining us into small, box-ticking roles and shows in their smaller spaces. You get lots of institutions holding huis about diversity, but never actually reaching out to me to programme my work, ask about Asian talent I might know, or ever coming to my shows or events. It’s really telling of their surface-deep intentions.

I’ve found my feet because I was raised in white institutions, therefore I know how to navigate them ok, and I’m a fairly confident person, but I wish there were more points of accessibility when it comes to funding applications, and information around how to make a viable living in the arts. I had no idea how to run a business and I’m still learning. As an arts practitioner of any kind these skills are vital but training mostly covers the artistic side and forgets about teaching us how to do taxes and make an actual living. I’d also love to know how to connect with businesses, non-arts related, to find private donors and sponsors who can help without having to dive into the shark tank funding rounds that are incredibly limited each time I want to make a work.

Roseanne Liang is an absolute trailblazer in NZ, she’s bolshy, opinionated and hardworking. I was lucky enough to have her mentor me on Asian Men Talk About Sex, which were some awesome catchups in which she would shred any fears or doubts I had.

CREATIVE PROFILE: ALEX LEE

I am a trained lawyer and practising film/screen content maker who works as a director and mostly as a producer. I work to help develop an inclusive and future proofed arts and cultural sectors particularly in screen content and storytelling. I run a number of screen organisations including the Asia NZ Film Foundation,The Documentary NZ Trust as well as Doc Edge International Documentary Film Festival. I am Chair of Film Auckland. I am often a guest presenter and judge an major international film events and markets.

I am currently working a slate of potential documentary and narrative fiction feature coproductions between NZ, China, Israel and Germany. Some of these projects involve the use of VR/AR and mixed reality.

 A great storyteller and a facilitator of talent

“Bamboo” ceilings. There is a pakeha perception of what the rich thin is to do for minority filmmakers. Much like with the legal, banking and accounting industries, once there isa realisation of the potential of the Asian market, there is a rush to appoint Asians to assist with opening doors. Often this means “language’ support. When the deal is done and the work is starting, the Asians are never involved because they are not considered to be experienced enough.  Don’t invite us to the table, not allow us to participate. 

To be truly inclusive and diverse, Asians must be represented at the senior levels of management, policy making and decision-making. As us what we need rather than tell us what you think we need.

Wong Kar-wai, a master of cinematic storytelling beyond borders

Alex has been advocating for greater support and visibility for the Asian screen and performing arts community as Chairman of the Asia New Zealand Film Foundation Trust and Founder/General Counsel of The Oryza Foundation for Asian Performing Arts.Alex Lee is the current Chair of Film Auckland Incorporated. He is a trained lawyer and filmmaker.  Alex has been extensively involved as an advocate of as well as a capacity builder within the screen industry.  He is a Co-director and Founding Trustee of the Documentary New Zealand Trust which runs the Doc Edge International Film Festival.