Five women comedy creators have been announced as this year’s New Zealand Film Commission 2020 Gender Scholarship recipients. Under the patronage of Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami, the scholarships are awarded to:
• Producer Abba Rose Dinah Vaiaoga-Ioasa
• Writer and performer Ana Scotney
• Director, producer and performer Becky Kuek
• Writer and director Paloma Schneideman
• Writer, director and performer Florence Noble
Each will receive $10,000 to support further development of their projects and careers.
Making the announcement, NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan said “A record over 120 applications were received across a range of comedy creators, working across print, stage, film, television and online. It was challenging to only pick five! It is great to see the next wave of New Zealand comedy coming through and the talent of all these amazing women. And what a treat to have Jackie and Madeleine join us as the Patrons this year.”
"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, the Patrons spoke with each of the shortlisted women to discover more about them and their 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.
Since 2015, the NZFC has awarded an annual scholarship to women filmmakers in areas of the industry where their participation has historically been low. Past scholarships have been awarded to women cinematographers, directors, wāhine Māori directors and Pacific Island screen writers.
Jackie and Madeleine concluded, “Perhaps what is most heartening for us is to realise that hundreds of women are passionately working on projects either at home, or in their studios, finding time between taking classes, raising children or working jobs to develop their creative ideas. We'd really like to encourage ALL of these women to start applying for opportunities to have their work produced so the rest of us get to watch more content made by women!”
Bios of successful applicants
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.