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2017 Participants


 For photos of Accelerator 2017 click here


Accelerator Classic - participants with films at MIFF 2017


W.A.M (Bill) Bleakley (A BIRTHDAY PARTY)

Bleakley began making films while studying Economics at the Australian National University and A Birthday Party is his MFA graduate film from Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). Bleakey’s earlier writer-director shorts credits include Joyride and The Swagman, and a producing credit on documentary short I Will Treasure Your Friendship.


Nina Buxton (MWAH)

Buxton’s award-winning debut short film ‘WOOF!’ played at international festivals and was distributed by Flickerfest in 2016. She has also directed award-winning music videos and works as an EPK director for Matchbox Pictures.



A Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Masters of Film & TV graduate, Lefoe’s award-winning queer short Plunge (2014) screened at 45 international festivals. In 2016, she spent three weeks at Italy’s International Filmmaking Academy learning from award-winning directors Danis Tanovic and Claudia Llosa. Her earlier credits include Under Pressure (2010), Ladies without Lipstick (2014) and Age, Height, Education (2014).


Frank Magree (SENGATAN)

While Sengatan is Magree’s debut as writer, director and producer, he is a 30-year screen-acting veteran with film credits including Romper Stomper, Redball, Ned Kelly and TV credits including Rush, Underbelly, Satisfaction, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Blue Healers, House Husbands, Secret Life of Us, Janus, Sea Change, Halifax.



Winning Clermont Ferrand’s Prix Etudiant de la Jeunesse award, The World in your Window follows three earlier shorts from McIntosh including 2010’s Tribeca-selected Day Trip. Her film was feature documentary Lost in Wonderland. McIntosh won Young Director of the Year at Cannes 2013 for her work as a TVC director.


Victoria McIntyre (MIRO)

Having won more than 60 International awards, including BAFTA and AACTA, McIntrye’s credits include Eldest of None (2014), Life’s A Drag (2015) and If You Love Your Children (2016). Her film The Telegram Man has played as part of the dawn service at ANZAC Cove Gallipoli for the last five years and is part of the permanent collection of the OSCARS Academy Awards Film Archive.


Greta Nash (LOCKER ROOM)

A Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Bachelor of Film & TV graduate, Nash’s film Karma Police premiered won 2016 Willoughby Shorts Festival’s Best Narrative Short Film. In 2016, she co-directed an online campaign for Disney Australia and in 2014 she received a scholarship to film her first short documentary Happy Dance in Suzhou, China.



A Griffith University & QCA graduate, Pang’s earlier filmmaking credits include Finding Daniel’s Drive (2006), Siesta (2006), For Melponene (2008) and The Pale Moonlight, which premiered at 2014’s Fantasia International in Montreal alongside The Spierig Brothers’ Predestination. In 2008, Pang completed a USC Universal Producing and Directing Workshop in Los Angeles, culminating with development internships at Color Force/Dreamworks and Vendome Pictures.


Simon Portus (PASSENGERS)

Portus’ previous shorts credits include 2009’s Tomorrow, which  premiered at Berlinale and won Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor at St Kilda and Best Director and Best Writer at Flickerfest, and 2005’s

Adrift, which premiered at Sydney.


Nikki Richardson (LOSING IT)

A graduate of Melbourne’s Monash University, Richardson’s first short We’re Here Now (2015) received awards for screenwriting and audience choice. She was recently shortlisted for the Smart for A Girl: ROAR screenwriting initiative with Imogen Banks and Alice Bell.



A 2011 graduate of the South Seas Film School, Ross received a New Zealand Film Commission Talent Development Grant to spend eight weeks writing the feature length screenplay for Have you tried, maybe, not worrying at New York’s Film Academy.


John Sheedy (MRS McCUTCHEON)

A graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Melbourne-based Sheedy is an award-winning stage director of drama, musicals and opera. Mrs McCutcheon is his debut in film.


Nick Waterman (AFTER THE SMOKE)

A graduate of Sydney’s University of Technology, Waterman’s debut short From Here (2012) premiered at Palm Springs ShortFest followed by 2014’s short Vote Yes launching Flickerfest. After the Smoke world premiered 2017’s Berlinale. He has also worked with various brands including Harper’s Bazaar, Volvo, Westfield and Virgin Australia.


Dave Whitehead (POSSUM)

While Possum is his directorial debut, Whitehead is an award-winning 20-year veteran of sound designer and composer whose credits include Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; Sound Designer on District 9The Adventures of Tintin and Arrival.



Accelerator Express Directors:


Directors selected by South Australian Film Corporation’s Pirrku Kuu Writers Room & Aboriginal Production Initiative:


Edoardo Crismani is a graduate of University of South Australia (majoring in Film & TV production with a sub-major in Creative Writing). He has written, directed, filmed and produced documentaries, including The Panther Within, and a short drama (Just Be Yourself) that have been broadcast NITV. His next short drama is titled 440.


Michael Crismani made his film directing debut with I Kept the Beat, which he also wrote and produced, an autobiographical Rockumentary style piece based on his aspiration to become a musician. He studied for a Bachelor of Film & TV at the University of South Australia and has worked in various roles, including as an actor, in screen productions in Australia and USA. He co-produced and featured in web series Mario’s Gritty World (YouTube).


Isaac Coen Lindsay comes from the Riverland, Berri South Australia and is part of the Ngarrinjderri Tribe. In 2013, he made his first short, Post Card From the Edge, and in 2015 he was part of the SAFC "micro docs" initiative. In 2016 he had an attachment in the electrics department on Warwick Thornton’s feature film Sweet Country. He was also an attachment for Cinematographer Allan Collins on short documentary Coming Home and then assisted Collins on short film Acknowledgement of Country. His first fully-funded short drama is the SAFC-financed Mother’s Nest.


Kiara Milera recently directed her first short film WILD, having previously been a part ABC-TV’s Black Comedy workshop which led to her being a sketch writer for the second season. Milera also had a director’s attachment on Warwick Thornton’s feature film Sweet Country.


Thibul Nettle (aka Stinga T), an Aboriginal rapper/songwriter and actor with a career spanning over 17 years, is a Noongar man who belongs to the Bibbulam and Yamatji people in WA.  He founded Firestick Films in 2012 and wrote and starred in feature 2014 feature film Friendship Love and Loyalty.  As part of the SAFC Aboriginal Short Film Initiative he shot his short film The Protectors.


Directors selected by Australian Directors Guild – Gender Matters initiative


Sophie Hexter is a Monash graduate and an Oxford post-graduate who held senior editorial positions at Harpers Bazaar and The Age newspaper and then scripted four-part SBS/Madman series The Closet Tales of Australian Fashion. In 2014 she co-founded multi-disciplinary media company H.W. Collective and made half-a-dozen short-form films that have played at various festivals. Hexter, who is represented by Hart & Co, was selected in early 2017 to be a part of Screen NSW’s Seed initiative for her short Drummer Girl.


Lisa Matthews has worked in the Australian and UK screen industry for 25 years. After majoring in Film at Sydney University, Matthews made corporate videos while completing post-graduate studies in current affairs journalism at the Australian Film, TV & Radio School (AFTRS). Her debut short as writer/director was Rosie’s Secret and she has since written and directed several award winning shorts, dramas and documentaries series including The Real Mary Poppins, Rogue Nation, Darwin’s Brave New World, Ten Pound Poms, Australia On Trial, Who Do You Think You Are and Australia The Story of Us.


Kelly Schilling is an Australian Film TV & Radio School (AFTRS) Masters graduate who had two of her screenplays produced in the Nine Network TV series Two Twisted – one episode of which she directed. Schilling was attached to director Phillip Noyce on his South African feature Catch a Fire and was also short-listed for the Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project. 



Directors selected by New Zealand Film Commission - Ramai Hayward Maori Director’s Scholarship


Kath Akuhata-Brown (Ngati Porou) has worked as a TV and radio journalist and been a researcher and script consultant on numerous New Zealand TV dramas and has been a story-liner for long running NZ drama Shortland Street. She has been a recipient of the Qantas Media Award Best Maori Documentary, Imagine NATIVE awards for Best Television Drama and the Media Peace Awards for Women Leaders.


Briar Grace-Smith descends from Ngā Puhi and writes plays, screenplays and short stories. Her TV writing credits include Fishskin Suit, Being Eve, Kaitangata Twitch and Australian children’s series Grace Beside Me. Briar’s first screenplay The Strength of Water was selected for the Sundance screenwriters and director’s labs and premiered at Rotterdam and Berlin Film Festivals in 2009. In 2016, she wrote and directed the short film Charm as part of the portmaneau film Waru. Briar is a recipient of the NZFC 2017 Ramai Hayward Directors' Scholarship for wahine Māori, having been awarded the Te Pou Marohi Ngā Aho Whakaari Melissa Wikaire Memorial Award in 2016 and the Arts Foundation Laureate award in 2000.


Rachel House (Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Mutunga) has acted in films such as Whale RiderBoyHunt for the Wilderpeople and Thor: Ragnarok and worked as an acting and performance coach with teenagers and children on the likes of Boy, Fantail, Everything We Loved, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and The Dark Horse. She also directed 2010 short film The Winter Boy. Her awards include 2016’s WIFT (Women in Film and Television) Mana Wahine award which acknowledges “trailblazing Māori women” in front and behind the camera. She is the recipient of the NZFC 2017 Ramai Hayward Directors' Scholarship for wahine Māori.


Jessica Sanderson (Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Kahungunu and Te Ati Haunui-a-papārangi) is an artist and director with training in Performance Design from New Zealand’s Massey University & Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. She has created music videos for some of New Zealand’s most prolific artists and won best music video by a Māori Artist for Ria Hall’s ‘Best Of Me’. Sanderson has worked in factual television as a field director and as a Creative Producer at TVNZ. Her short film Ways to See was been funded as part of NZFC’s Fresh Shorts 2017 programme.



Directors selected by ScreenWest – West Coast Visions


Maziar Lahooti is a Perth-based Iranian/Norwegian/Australian filmmaker with Masters in Directing from the Australian Film, TV & Radio School. He has made several festival-screening short films and was an attachment in 2015 to Kriv Stenders on Red Dog True Blue. He has worked professionally in grips, camera, lighting, as well as story producing TV documentary like Outback Pilots and Outback Truckers.