Teherenui Koteka (Scriptwriting, 2022)

I experienced my fair share of challenges throughout the course, but none took away from the overall great experience.

Image of Teherenui Koteka (supplied).

Teherenui writes: 'To say that I enjoyed my time in the course would be a tremendous understatement! As someone who crawled through undergrad, I hesitated to undertake further study. However, upon researching Ken's course and reading the reviews of past graduates, I decided that the practical nature of the course aligned well with my goals for myself as a writer. Now, having graduated from the course, I can say it truly lived up to the hype!

'I was a real theatre baby when I submitted my application for Ken's course. When I sent in my application, I wanted to hone my skills as a theatre writer. However, within the first week of workshops, I decided that the IIML would be the perfect place to learn a new skill, so I began writing for film.

'I would be lying if I said transitioning to a new medium was easy. I questioned my capabilities the entire time I was writing my first draft. However, Ken's reassurance and constant guidance encouraged me to keep at it and by the time I submitted my second draft (100 pages shy of where it needed to be), I finally gained confidence in my newly learned ability to write film. The turnaround period between the second and third drafts was short and intense, but in some ways, it was what I needed. There was no time to question my ideas or tell myself I had writer's block. There was only time to get it done! I submitted my third draft and with that, earned my Masters which I passed with merit.

'The workload throughout the course is intense. There is always something to read and there is always something to write. I managed my time quite well until the mid-year break. The week we resumed the course, I travelled to Auckland to fulfil my industry placement requirements. While my time in industry placement was a highlight of my Masters and my career, I missed the beginning of the Pipi Project classes. For the remainder of the year, I was playing catch up with the Pipi Project whilst simultaneously trying to push through my major project. One regret I have of the course is not dedicating more time towards my Pipi Project. It was the mini-project I was most looking forward to at the beginning of the year and by the time it rolled around I didn’t have the capacity to perform as well as I could have.

'The greatest aid this course facilitates is placing you in a room with nine other writers. My classmates were pivotal in my development as a screenwriter. They were generous with their feedback and knowledge. As a cohort, we pushed each other to meet our deadlines and fostered beautiful personal and professional relationships.

'There were times when I felt unnerved by the lack of Pacific presence in the workshop space. Sometimes, when writing Pacific works, the feedback I crave needs to come from people who understand the context of where I am writing from. Ken acknowledges these needs and is proactive in providing solutions. Before I could ask for a Pacific external supervisor, he had a list of suggestions for me. He even tailored his list to include people I had never worked with because he knew I was looking to expand my networks.

'In summary I experienced my fair share of challenges throughout the course, but none took away from the overall great experience. I finished the course with my first film script and three other short works I have continued to develop. I fostered great relationships with other great artists by way of my cohort, supervisors, the creation of the mini projects and my industry placement. My year in the course was the best of my tertiary education and one I will forever look upon fondly.'

Bio: Teherenui Koteka is a Cook Islands Māori writer, director, producer and actor. Teherenui moved to Wellington from the Cook Islands in 2017 to attend Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington where she has graduated with her Bachelors and Masters of Arts. Teherenui is the inaugural recipient of the BATS x Creative New Zealand Pacific Producer Residency where she is currently producing her original play 'Pane Provocations' which won runner up in Playmarkets 2023 b425 competition.

Read more:

Tawatawa Productions profile

'Teherenui  Koteka awarded new Pacific Producer Residency' (Creative New Zealand news and blog, 22 June 2023)