Master of Arts scriptwriting profiles 2014

These are brief paragraphs about themselves written by each member of this year's class and emailed to the IIML at the start of the year. The intention is that they can read about each other before they meet face to face. We also hope these informal snapshots will make interesting reading in future years.

Jack Barrowman

I was born in Wellington to an artist and an art enabler. With an oversaturated imagination, the classic flash of tall white boy entitlement, and a bit too much head area, I wandered through my teens like a lost little boat. I drifted a bit too far, and ended up reefed on wasted time and an unfortunate yet predictable lack of employable skills. One thing I could do, however, was talk smack; and talk enough smack that I could fix it into a little rudder, stick it all together, and get that little boat going smooth.

So now I’m here, talking smack, and looking forward to a year of pencilgreyed hands and struggles with constructive criticism. Spin on.

Teresa Bass

When I was nine, I told my parents, 'I'm gonna go to New York and be a famous actor.' 13 years later I got my degree in acting and directing from New York University, and, though the 'famous' thing admittedly hasn't worked out (sorry, nine-year-old me), I spent the next five years in the New York theatre scene, mostly as a producer and artistic director of a small theatre.

In 2009 I moved to New Zealand, where I took a break from theatre and discovered the refugee resettlement sector. After three amazing years in the sector hearing innumerable inspiring stories, I decided to return to the arts to pursue my longtime infatuation with writing, become a better storyteller, and maybe someday help share the journeys and stories that have changed my life.

Judith Cowley

My family have always been story-tellers. A family motto could be 'Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story.' Although my head was filled with stories, I avoided the call to write for years. The call, like a determined suitor, didn't give up. I gave him many excuses. I am too busy, too tired. I have to have a real job. It is not my forte. He waited, watching from the other side of the dance floor.

A year ago I fell over a cliff. My injuries were minor, scratches and mild concussion. But the fall woke me up. When the call to write next came, I took his hand and said, 'Let's dance.'

Tza Drake

Tza Drake is 35, is a New Zealand Film School Graduate, has a BA in FILM and writes plays. Yep, he knows how that sounds. He has just completed his 'The Restaurant with No Name' trilogy of plays including, Once Upon a Time in Aro Valley (2009), My Kitchen Kills (2013), and Once Upon a Time in Wellington (2014), all performed/ing at BATS. He has written short films which can be found on youtube and dabbles in acting, having won no awards for this. He can be followed on twitter @mr_tza and loves Liverpool FC.

Fleur Hamill

Several of my screenplays sit in boxes collecting dust. They are at various levels of development. One at rough first draft level, another in note form only. After floundering on my own I felt overwhelmed and got a day job. And so they sit collecting dust.

I hope to get support, insights and encouragement from the course but mostly the courage to delve back into those boxes with renewed enthusiasm. I lug those heavy boxes around every time I move house and am starting to resent them.

I have a new story idea and so have started a new box. It's time to stop this insanity - finish a story and see if I can make any money.

Abigail Howells

Hello, my name is Abby Howells and I come from Dunedin. I have been involved in the theatre for a long time. Some of my favorite things I have done are being the head writer of my all female comedy collective, Discharge, directing and writing the OUSA Capping Show for the last couple of years, performing stand up comedy and improvising with my improv troop, Improsaurus.

I am excited to move up to Wellington and also to get a new haircut.

Rene Le Bas

I'm 24 years old and was born in New Zealand then moved to Portland, Oregon when I was five. I haven't lived in one place for longer than eighteen months since I was 13. I've lived in Hawke’s Bay, Colorado (ski lift in my high school's parking lot!), Upstate New York, and Portland and Wellington a couple of times. At 16, I left high school and got the opportunity to do some film work with non-profit organisations in China and Africa. After attending the New Zealand Film School in 2009, I discovered the area of film I was interested in the most was writing. ‬

I've worked on films in both the United States and New Zealand. After briefly doing a video internship for Greenpeace in Auckland, I returned to Wellington in early 2013 to focus on my writing career. I also have a part time job at a café inside Les Mills that allows me to concentrate on another interest of mine – health and fitness (and then completely undercut that interest by drinking lots of long blacks). I now consider Wellington my home and I’m looking forward to the year at IIML!

Simon McCarthy

Simon is a Wellington native who grew up in the Hutt Valley although he rarely admits this. In 2012 after several years as a journalist he embarked on a depressive episode which saw him return to Wellington after a nearly ten year absence. Simon has returned to his first love, that of storytelling and cinema.

He decided to do the screenwriting course at Victoria University of Wellington after talking to former New Zealand Film School classmate Tusi Tamasese (Director of The Orator) who attended the course several years ago.

Simon's hobbies include rugby, watching films, 90s band Fool's Garden, murder mysteries and pretending he is Batman.

Despite being the progeny of an accountant and librarian, Simon loves a good laugh. He shares a house with his partner, four chickens and two cats named Boutros Boutros Ghali and Jurgen Harbourmaster respectively.

Simon will marry his partner, comedian/wardrobe guru, Jim on June 1st this year. He has a love of puns and constantly talks about himself in the third person.

Samantha Potts

I'm originally from Hawke's Bay but Wellington has become a second home to me. The last few years I have spent gaining my Bachelor of Communication at Massey Wellington and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn't until I did a scriptwriting paper in early 2013 that I realised scriptwriting was the career I had been looking for.

Writing has always been something I have done, as has immersing myself into the many fictional worlds that books, film, and television offer. I am excited to get to meet everyone and to start working on my project.

Diane Young

I grew up on the Kapiti Coast. My earliest memories of the cinema were day-trips to Wellington to see films like ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘My Fair Lady’. Since then I’ve acquired an eclectic taste in movies.

I took a scriptwriting course with Victoria University of Wellington Continuing Education a few years ago. I’ve recently been a member of the Emerging Artists Trust (EAT) Writers’ and Actors’ Workshop, where I workshopped two feature scripts.

How do you tell a good story and create memorable characters with images that live long after the credits? That’s what I hope to learn in my quest to become a storyteller. I look forward to meeting you all and having a great year together.