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Alumni Update


For photos of Accelerator 2018 click here

Accelerator Classic - participants with films at MIFF 2018

Jamie Helmer (THE KNIFE SALESMAN): Melbourne-based Helmer works under the banner of Golden Moss Films with collaborator Michael Leonard. Together they made the shorts LATE OCTOBER and THE KNIFE SALESMAN, with the latter screening in competition at 2017’s Venice Film Festival. THE KNIFE SALESMAN is a proof of concept for feature film project GRAFTON POINT.


Michael Leonard (THE KNIFE SALESMAN): Leonard started making films in 2007 with other artists and musicians under the banner Beg, Scream and Shout; with a commitment to screening DIY film with live music. In 2015 Leonard teamed with Jamie Helmer to make LATE OCTOBER and then 2017’s THE KNIFE SALESMAN, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival. THE KNIFE SALESMAN is a proof of concept for feature film project GRAFTON POINT, while THE DIVER is another short film that will be a proof of concept for a feature film of the same name.


Nakkiah Lui (BROWN LIPS): Nakkiah Lui is a writer, actor and director working across screen and stage, including BLACK COMEDY (ABC-TV), KIKI & KITTY (ABC-TV) and BLACK IS THE NEW WHITE (Sydney Theatre Company).


Vanessa Gazy (SHILOH): Gazy completed her Australian Film TV & Radio School (AFTRS) Masters in Directing in 2014, winning the school’s Kenneth B. Myer Award for Exceptional Talent. Her first short was 2015’s FOAL, while her second short, HIGHWAY, was selected for several festivals, including London and Palm Springs, and is being developed into a feature. She is a recipient of the Australian Directors Guild (ADG) 2018 Commercial & Content Mentorship Program and is represented by Grandview LA & WME.


Amberley Jo Aumua (WAITING): Writer/director Amberley Jo Aumua is of Samoan and Maori descent from Manurewa, Aotearoa/New Zealand and holds a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts. Her 2017 short WAITING won Best Short Film at the New Zealand International Film Festival and was in competition at the Toronto International Film Festival. Aumua was one of nine writer/directors on 2019 portmanteau feature film VAI, which was selected for Berlin, SXSW, and the Māoriland Film Festival.


Renée Petropoulos (TANGLES AND KNOTS): Having completed her MFA in Directing at Columbia University, Petropoulos’ short TANGLES AND KNOTS was selected for both SXSW & Berlin in 2018 and was also nominated for the 2018 AACTA Award for Best Short Fiction Film.


John Harvey (WATER): Melbourne-based Harvey is the Creative Director of production company Brown Cabs and WATER is his narrative debut as a writer and director. Working alongside Arena Media, he produced a chapter from the MIFF Premiere-Fund supported omnibus THE TURNING in 2013, and also produced feature film SPEAR, which premiered at TIFF 2015, and ABC-TV series THE WARRIORS. In 2017, Harvey’s stage writing debut, HEART IS A WASTELAND, had a sold-out season at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre.


Lara Köse (KAYA): A graduate of Swinburne University and the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) film schools, Melbourne-based Köse’s VCA graduate short film CRUSH screened at festivals internationally. In 2018 Köse was selected as director’s attachment to Tony Tilse on feature film MISS FISHER & THE CRYPT OF TEARS, supported by Every Cloud Productions and Screen Australia.


Robyn Paterson (RUN RABBIT): RUN RABBIT is Paterson’s debut narrative short film, after her documentary feature FINDING MERCY premiered at IDFA in 2012 and was awarded Best Cinematography and Best Emerging Filmmaker at 2013’s DocEdge Film Festival in 2013. Her second documentary feature is IN THE ZONE.


Michelle Savill (BATS): Saville’s ELLEN IS LEAVING won Best Narrative Short Film Award at 2013’s SXSW Film Festival. She has directed content for Vice, Catalogue Magazine & Nike and also works as a commercials director for Goodoil Films.


Curtis Taylor (YULUBIDYI – UNTIL THE END): Growing up in remote Martu desert communities and in the city, Taylor has both traditional Martu knowledge and a non-Aboriginal education. In 2008 he worked on YIWARRA KUJU: THE CANNING STOCK ROUTE and was the recipient of the 2011 Western Australian Youth Art Award and Wesfarmers Youth Scholarship. His screen work, including the short MAMU, has been shown in international film festivals from Brazil to Nepal and he was Director’s Attachment on the Emmy Award-winning VR documentary COLLISIONS.


Nathan Mewett (YULUBIDYI – UNTIL THE END): Mewett, who grew up in remote gold mine Telfer in the Great Western Desert, is currently completing his Masters of Screen at the Australian Film TV & Radio School (AFTRS). He co-directed YULUBIDYI – UNTIL THE END with Curtis Taylor, while his previous short, SOL BUNKER, won several awards and is a proof of concept for a feature film of the same name.


Takumi Kawakami (PAPER CRANE): Kawakami graduated from Swinburne University of Technology in 2017 with a Bachelor of Film & TV. His graduate short film, PAPER CRANE, was awarded Best Script, Performance Direction, and Creative Excellence in Film by the university.


Gabriel Hutchings (PERISHER): Hutchings’ work includes documentary short THE DAYS PASS QUIETLY and his Victorian College of the Arts graduate film THE PERISHER which won the Panavision Australia Overall Best Production Script Award and the BFA Best Production Script Award: Orloff Family Charitable Trust Scholarship. His films have been exhibited at festivals including Palm Springs International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival and Atlanta Film Festival.


Kerinne Jenkins (CATTLE): Jenkins is a graduate of the Australian Film TV & Radio School (AFTRS), where she made the 20-minute proof of concept CATTLE and binaural thriller podcast series PRECIPICE which was presented at Radio Days Vienna in 2018. She is developing multi-platform science fiction series THE DIVIDE as well as her first feature CLONE with producer Taylor Litton Strain, which was conceived during her time at Accelerator Lab.


Leticia Cáceres (THE TRUE HISTORY OF BILLIE THE KID): Filmmaker and stage director Cáceres’ first short, WILD, won the London Film Awards’ Golden Lion Best First Time Director Award and the Student Film Award at Melbourne’s Women in Film Festival. Her stage work has received Helpmann, Green Room and Sydney Theatre Awards and she was supported by Screen Australia’s Gender Matters/Brilliant Careers to shoot her first TV pilot.


Lucy Knox (AN ACT OF LOVE): Knox’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Masters graduate film AN ACT OF LOVE won Best Direction in a Student Film at 2018’s Australian Directors’ Guild Awards. Her films have screened at festivals including Sheffield DocFest, Palm Springs International ShortFest and Cork Film Festival.


Astrid Dominguez Ortega (WE VANISH): Originally from Mexico, Ortega started her career directing TV commercials and in 2018 graduated with a Masters in Film and TV from the Victorian College of the Arts. Her graduate short film WE VANISH was selected for a number of international film festivals including MIFF, where she won the 2018 Australian Emerging Filmmaker award.



2018 Accelerator Express Directors:


Directors selected by CreateNSW’s Generator Emerging Filmmakers Fund (Queer Edition)


Fadia Abboud is a graduate of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Bachelor of Communications in Media Arts and Production whose interests centre around the stories and experiences of Arab Australians. Abboud worked at the Information & Cultural Exchange for many years facilitating digital storytelling workshops for diverse communities in Western Sydney and has created video works for Sydney Festival productions Disco Dome and East London West Sydney.


Stef Smith was a recipient of the Create NSW Generator: Emerging Filmmaker’s Fund for her short film JOY BOY and also directed and produced ABC iView sketch comedy series THE LOST TAPES funded by the Fresh Blood initiative of ABC and Screen Australia. In 2018 Smith was funded by Create NSW #SheDirects initiative for her television project FISH which was also shortlisted for Sundance New Voices Lab 2019.



Directors selected by New Zealand Film Commission’s Vai Pasifika Female Filmmaker and Women’s Horror Film Fund initiatives


Marina Alofagia McCartney is part-Samoan and holds a Masters of Arts in Screen Production and is a teaching fellow in Pacific Studies at Auckland University. Her films have been selected for Palm Springs ShortFest, the NZ International Film Festival, imagineNATIVE & Hawai’i International Film Festival and she was one of nine writer/directors on 2019 portmanteau feature film VAI, which was selected for Berlin, SXSW, Māoriland Film Festival.


Hweiling Ow is the co-creator of 2016’s online horror anthology web-series Ao-terror-oa (co-funded by Youtube and NZ On Air) and also directed short film The Tattooist which, had more than 16 million views for online horror channel CryptTV, and the short film Vaspy.


Hash Perambalam won a Moa at the New Zealand Film Awards for Best Self-Funded Short Film with her first student short film Not Like Her which screened at 2015’s New Zealand International Film Festival in 2015.



Director selected by ScreenWest’s West Coast Visions:

Jub Clerc is a Nyul Nyul/Yawuru woman who has worked, in various crew capacities, on The CircuitBran Nue DaeMad BastardsSatellite BoyJandamarra’s War and Jasper Jones. She has written/directed short films including a chapter of the MIFF Premiere Fund-supported The Turning. For NITV, Cleric reported/produced her own segments for Around the Traps and hosted Mugu Kids. Her first play The Fever and the Fret won the Kate Challis (RAKA) Award in 2017 – the same year that she spent five months as a director’s attachment on ABC-TV series Mystery Road. Clerc’s feature film script Sweet As has secured production funding from ScreenWest’s West Coast Visions and the MIFF Premiere Fund and will be produced with Melbourne’s Arena Media.



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


Dylan Coleman is a Kokatha/Greek woman with a PhD in Creative Writing who, with her brother Staurme Glastonbury, is adapting her award-winning novels into screenplays. Their short drama Spin Out won prizes at 2017’s South Australian Screen Awards and 2018’s Fleurieu Film Festival and, in 2017, she was a director's attachment on SBS/NITV series Grace Beside Me.


Natasha Wanganeen is a Kaurna Narranga Ngarrindjeri Nyoongar woman with a long track record as an actor of the stage and screen (Rabbit Proof Fence, Cargo).




 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, and her follow-up Mwah played at a number of festivals including Palm Springs International Film Festival. Buxton works at production company Gristmill, and her TV directing debut is the ABC-Netflix show The InBESTigators.


Kate Lefoe (SOMERSAULT PIKE): 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 and Halifax.


Zoe McIntosh (THE WORLD IN YOUR WINDOW): 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 first 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.


Tin Pang (MOTHER, CHILD): 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 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. In 2018, Pang secured a director’s attachment on A Place To Call Home, and he works on Home And Away. 


Simon Portus (PASSENGERS): Portus’ previous shorts credits include 2009’s Tomorrow, which premiered at the 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 shortlisted for the Smart for A Girl: ROAR screenwriting initiative with Imogen Banks and Alice Bell.


Rachel Ross (HAVE YOU TRIED, MAYBE, NOT WORRYING): 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. His first short Mrs McCutcheon won Best Australian Short Film at MIFF 2017, went on play at over 130 festivals world and was also nominated by AFI/AACTA and won Best Director at the Australian Directors Guild as well as Screen Producers Australia for Best Short Film. His Premiere Fund-supported feature debut H IS FOR HAPPINESS world premieres at MIFF 2019.


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 and which continues to screen at special presentations for both Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week. After the Smoke world premiered at 2017’s Berlinale. He has also worked with various brands including Harper’s Bazaar, Volvo, Westfield and Virgin.


Dave Whitehead (POSSUM): While Possum is his directorial debut, Whitehead is an award-winning 20-year veteran 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 writer/director descended from the Wiradjuri people and is a graduate of the 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 were broadcast on NITV. His short documentary Lest We Forget- Aboriginal Women screened nationwide on Remembrance Day 2018 and his other 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 directed her first short film WILD, having previously been a part of 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, 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 2014’s 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 played at various festivals. Hexter, who is represented by Hart & Co, was selected in 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, Darwin’s Brave New World, Ten Pound Poms, Australia On Trial, Australia in Colour and Doctor Doctor.


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 Sundance’s 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 portmanteau 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 TV) 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 a director from Aotearoa/New Zealand of Māori and Pākehā heritage. Sanderson 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’. In 2019 she finished her first short, Ways to See, and is directing Moko, a documentary series called on traditional Māori tattoo.



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 (AFTRS). 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. Lahooti’s West Coast Visions-funded and Premiere Fund-supported feature debut BELOW will world premiere at MIFF 2019.





For photos of Accelerator 2016 click here


Accelerator Classic – participants with films at MIFF 2016


Alice Englert (The Boyfriend Game) has worked as an actress on a variety of screen productions including GINGER & ROSA and TOP OF THE LAKE 2. Englert’s short film directing debut THE BOYFRIEND GAME screened at Toronto International Film Festival 2015 and Berlinale 2016. Englert’s second short film FAMILY HAPPINESS, starring Ben Whishaw, was selected for a number of festivals including MIFF and the BFI London Film Festival.


Eddie Diamandi (Emily) grew-up traveling and performing with the Great Moscow Circus. After moving with his family to Australia, Diamandi trained as an actor and later was accepted into the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) School of Film & TV. A recipient of the AMP Tomorrow Maker Award and Raw Artists Melbourne Filmmaker of the Year, he has written and directed several short films and music videos that have screened in festivals locally and overseas. In 2018, as part of Screen Australia’s Hot Shots Plus program, he wrote and directed THE WAKE, a short film proof-of-concept for his first feature SVETLANA. He also had a director’s attachment on US TV Series PREACHER.


Elizabeth Fermanis (Hospitality) is a Melbourne-based writer and filmmaker who is a graduate of the Masters of Film & TV at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) where she was awarded a Victorian Scholarship for visual art. She works at Silver Spoon Productions as an editor and production coordinator and has recently directed an episode of web series Fresh


Goran Stolevski (You Deserve Everything) has a Masters in Film & TV from Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). He has made several short films, which have played at the Raindance, Sydney, Adelaide and Frameline San Francisco Film Festivals, among others. In 2014, he was selected for Screen Australia’s Talent Escalator initiative and he worked as a writers’ room assistant and director’s attachment on the Emmy-award-winning NOWHERE BOYS and Matchbox TV series BARRACUDA. In 2017 he attended the Berlinale Talent Campus and in 2018 won Best International Short with Would You Look at Her at the Sundance Film Festival. He is represented by UTA.


Ivan Barge’s second short, MADAM BLACK has screened at more than 150 festivals globally, winning many accolades including the Prix Du Public at Clermont Ferrand, the world’s biggest Audience Award for short film. His first short, SNOOZE TIME, was featured in the New Directors section of ‘Shots’.


Jordan Bond (Big City) is a writer/director of short films and music videos, and, from 2013­-2016, was full­time writer/director at DPI Productions. In 2015 he wrote and directed two music videos for Tiny Little Houses, winning an Audience Award in the SoundKILDA music video competition and screening in competition at the Los Angeles Music Video Festival. His film SHE SELLS screened at Flickerfest 2015 and was picked-up by Flickerfest distribution.


Lachlan Ryan (Big City) associate produced family film ODDBALL while working at The Film Company. Previously, he wrote, directed and produced his debut feature film, REVERSE RUNNER, executive produced by THE MIGHTY DUCKS director Stephen Herek. In 2010 he wrote and directed ANDREW & BEC’S SKYDIVING VIDEO, which won the Colorado Film Festival’s Director’s Heart Award.


Eli Kent (Moving) is a winner of the Bruce Mason Award for emerging playwrights and the New Zealand Arts Foundation New Generation Award and in 2010 completed his Masters in Scriptwriting at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters. His show ALL YOUR WANTS AND NEEDS FULFILLED FOREVER played at London’s Vaults Festival following runs in Auckland and New York.


Leon Wadham (Moving) is a graduate of Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School, where he received the Museum Hotel Scholarship Award. He worked as an actor, director and writer for many of New Zealand’s industry leaders, including South Pacific Pictures, Silo Theatre and Auckland Theatre Company and his TV credits include Alice Snedden’s Bad NewsCystic Sisters &The Male Gayz. Wadham directed 8 Reasonable Demands for Auckland Theatre Company.


Luci Schroder (Slapper) is a Melbourne based writer director nominated for the Cannes Young Director Award with a varied background in fine arts, textiles design and philosophy and has a working history in fashion, film, music video, TV commercials, video art, short documentary and short stories and participation in various video exhibitions in Paris, Sydney, Melbourne and Mexico. In 2016, Schroder won Emerging Australian Filmmaker Award at MIFF and SLAPPER played at Sundance 2017.


Natalie Erika James (Creswick) is a Japanese-Australian writer-director and Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) graduate whose shorts, including Burrow (2014) and Tritch (2012), have screened internationally, including at MIFF, Palm Springs ShortFest and Flickerfest. She was director’s attachment on Leigh Whannell’s sci-fi thriller STEM and her debut feature, RELIC, was produced by Carver Films (SNOWTOWN, PARTISAN) & Nine Stories (Riva Marker, Jake Gyllenhaal), and supported by the Russo Brothers’ AGBO, Screen Australia and Film Victoria. Natalie is signed to WME and directs commercials and music videos through Melbourne production company Fiction.


Patrick McBain (Slug) cut his teeth as a writer, director and editor across dozens of productions as part of the Bachelor of Narrative Directing (Film & TV) at Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). As well as writing, directing and editing his graduate film Slug in his final year, he assisted in post-production on three other VCA productions as an editor and credits supervisor. He works as an editor and post-production producer for GlossVFX in New York.


Shannon Murphy (Eaglehawk) is a National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) graduate who worked as a theatre director and devisor for 10 years before attending the Australian Film TV & Radio School (AFTRS). Murphy directed episodes of Offspring, Love Child, Rake & Sisters and SBS-TV’s four-part miniseries On the Ropes, before making her feature directing debut with Babyteeth starring Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn.


Tim Egan (Curve) is a Melbourne-based Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) graduate who has worked many roles on film sets over the last decade, including as DoP for films like DEATH BY MUFF, THE SCORE, BLOOD ON THE GAME DICE, PROSOPAGNOSIA, A LIFE UNEXPECTED, LIZ DRIVES and TROLL BRIDGE. Egan has also worked as an online editor in advertising and TV and as a director, DOP and Editor for ABC-TV’s THE BAZURA PROJECT.


Yamin Tun (Wait) is a writer-director and a graduate of Oxford University in Philosophy, Politics & Economics. Originally from Myanmar, Yamin spent her childhood as an asylum-seeker in numerous countries. In 2013, Yamin was selected by Film Finances Inc to attend Telluride Film Festival and meet film industry in Los Angeles. As part of the NZ Script-to-Screen FilmUp Program, her mentor was Rolf de Heer and she was named 2016’s New Filmmaker of the Year in New Zealand.


Emily Dynes (St. Elmo) is a Swinburne University Bachelor of Film & TV graduate and the co-founder of Impel Pictures, where she creates short films and documentaries.


Brendon McDonall (The Dam) is a director, screenwriter and actor and is a graduate of University of Western Sydney (UWS) Theatre Nepean (Acting) and a triple graduate of the Australian Film TV & Radio School (AFTRS). His first short film, THE LAW, won a Flickerfest 2012 Jury Prize. ALL GOD’S CREATURES won Best Film and Best Director at 2014’s Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival and the International Iris Prize. McDonall won the AFTRS/Foxtel Award for Exceptional Talent and was Associate Director on ABC-TV series JANET KING. In 2014 he completed a Master of Screen Arts in Directing at AFTRS where he wrote and directed THE DAM. His romantic comedy Spoilers premiered at Frameline and screened on the UK’s BBC2. He currently lectures in directing and screenwriting at AFTRS & JMC.


Jennifer Perrott (The Ravens) is a writer/director/producer working between Europe and Australia who won a Best Young Director Award at the Broadcastnow / BBC B+Young Talent Awards. Perrott has directed prime-time UK and Australian TV drama and she wrote-financed-produced and directed 22-minute short film THE RAVENS which won 2016’s Heartland Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. In 2018 she directed episodes of BBC's Doctor Who and British-American historical drama series created by Sally Wainwright, Gentleman Jack for HBO/BBC1.



Accelerator Express Directors


Directors selected by Screen Tasmania’s Pitch, Plot, Produce 


Briony Kidd is a Tasmanian-based filmmaker and theatre-maker and graduate of Melbourne’s Victoria College of the Arts (VCA). Her short gothic melodrama THE ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS debuted on the Shudder.com platform internationally and her short WATCH ME, a thriller written by Claire d'Este, premiered at Monster Fest before heading out on the international circuit. Her Radio Gothic theatre collective presented horror radio plays at Dark MOFO 2016 and 2017.


Rebecca Thomson is a Tasmanian based writer/director who has directed eight short films, including cult hit CUPCAKE: A ZOMBIE LESBIAN MUSICAL and THE JELLY WRESTLER, and whose films have won awards and screened at more than 70 film festivals worldwide including Frameline, St. Kilda Film Festival, New York International Film Festival. Thomson’s I AM UNDONE was selected to be part of the horror feature anthology A NIGHT OF HORROR VOL.1 produced by Deadhouse Films and A Night of Horror International Film Festival. In 2010 Thomson was chosen as a participant in the Screen Australia-funded Raw Nerve Program, resulting in the short film Slashed



Directors selected by South Australian Film Commission iView Initiative


Brendon Skinner began working with Simon Williams while studying film at University and together they have directed three short films with international festival recognition, SEE-SAW SWEETHEARTS (2009), MONKEYBAR MAFIA (2010) and TOOT TOOT (2010), before creating corporate web-series AGE MATTERS (2011) and IS IT DEMENTIA (2013). They also directed and co-produced 2016’s ABC-iview series GOOBER.


Simon Williams began working with Brendon Skinner while studying film at University and together they have directed three short films with international festival recognition, SEE-SAW SWEETHEARTS (2009), MONKEYBAR MAFIA (2010) and TOOT TOOT (2010), before creating corporate web-series AGE MATTERS (2011) and IS IT DEMENTIA (2013). They also directed and co-produced 2016’s ABC-iview series GOOBER.



Directors selected by Australian Directors Guild’s Gender Careers initiative

(supported by Screen Australia’s Gender Matters Program)


Beth Armstrong graduated from the Australian Film TV & Radio School (AFTRS) with a Masters in film directing and directed six shorts, winning awards including Best of Festival at Palm Springs. Her short comedy/drama YOU CUT I CHOOSE, premiered at MIFF 2014 and was nominated for an ADG award. She was awarded the Screen Australia/ADG Director's Attachment to Mel Gibson on the Oscar-winning feature, HACKSAW RIDGE. Armstrong directed ten episodes of Seven Network’s children’s series DROP DEAD WEIRD and directs commercials for Two Little Indians and Clockwork films. She also co-produces and hosts podcast series CURVEBALL.


Brooke Goldfinch attended NYU’s graduate film program at Tisch School of the Arts as a scholarship student with support from the Thyne Reid Foundation. Goldfinch returned to Sydney after receiving a Screen Australia Talent Escalator Grant for her short film RED ROVER, which received Best Director Awards at 2016 Flickerfest and St Kilda Film Festival. In 2012, Goldfinch’s short film PEN PAL premiered at Edinburgh Film Festival and she was selected by actor/director James Franco to write and direct a segment of the compendium feature film THE COLOR OF TIME. She was a Director’s Attachment on ALIEN: COVENANT, shadowing director Ridley Scott.


Julietta Boscolo is a 2011 graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), where her Masters film, SAFE, won numerous awards. She won MIFF’s Emerging Filmmaker Award for her short LET’S SEE HOW FAST THIS BABY WILL GO, which was also preselected for Cannes Critics Week, and her short SAM’S GOLD won ADG’s Award for Best Direction in a Short Film and screened on ABC-TV. She was selected for Screen Australia’s Directors Attachment Scheme on LOVE CHILD.



Directors selected by the New Zealand Film Commission’s Talent Express Initiative


Nathalie Boltt has acted in the likes of Golden Globe winner DISTRICT 9, BBC series INSPECTOR GEORGE GENTLY and 24 HOURS TO LIVE with Ethan Hawke. Boltt has written for TV series’ and wrote and directed two shorts: THE SILK, selected as an installation by the Westport Arts Centre in New York (distributed by GaiaTV); and VAJAZZLE (selected by Canada’s Film Shortage). She is the co-creator of cult webseries Dropped Pie, which she also writes, directs and performs in.


Kirsty Hamilton graduated from New Zealand’s Toi Whakaari Drama School in 1992. She starred in 1998 feature SAVING GRACE and was 2007 Globe Artistic fellow at Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London. In 2012, Hamilton earned her MA in creative writing at Wellington’s Victoria University and in 2016 gained her Auckland University Screen Production honours degree. Her third short film is COLD, which she wrote, produced, directed & acted in and she is also developing two short documentary films and feature screenplay Without Sin.


Renae Maihi is a writer and director in theatre and film. Her debut play, Nga Manurere, was touted as the “surprise jewel of the year” by the NZ Herald (2009), and her play Patua won the Adam NZ Playwrights award for Best Play by a Maori Playwright. She co-wrote short film REDEMPTION, which featured at Berlin and Sundance, and won Best Short Film at Toronto’s 2010 imagineNATIVE Film Festival. She then wrote and directed her NZFC-funded short BUTTERFLY, which travelled to numerous international festivals. Maihi developed her short MANNAHATTA in New York while studying filmmaking at NYFA. Her feature Waru which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival & opened ImagineNATIVE. It won best screenplay at the 2017 NZ SWANZ awards, the Grand Jury Award for an Outstanding International Narrative Feature at the 34th Asia Pacific Film Festival in LA & the 2018 Audience Award at Seattle International Film Festival. In 2018, alongside the other Waru filmmakers she was awarded the 2018 NZFC Maori Screen Excellence Award of $50,000.



Director selected by ScreenWest’s West Coast Visions


Stephen McCallum is a 2011 graduate of the Australian Film TV & Radio School (AFTRS), where he won the Foxtel Exceptional Talent award and the AFTRS EU scholarship. Since graduating, he has directed several commercials including It’s Time, his marriage equality advert for GetUp which was voted AdNews Viral of the Year and had more than 16 million YouTube hits. In 2013, McCallum had a director's attachment on Tony Ayres' MIFF Premiere Fund-supported feature CUT SNAKE and in 2014, he was Glendyn Ivin's Director’s Assistant on Network Nine’s GALLIPOLI where he directed 2nd Unit. McCallum has directed several short films that have screened around the world and in 2016 directed his debut feature film,1%, which was selected for the Toronto and London Film Festivals.




For photos of Accelerator 2015 click here


Accelerator Classic – participants with films at MIFF 2015


DYLAN RIVER (Nulla Nulla): A filmmaker from Alice Springs, River’s debut documentary BUCKSKIN won Sydney Film Festival Documentary Prize, was selected for Adelaide Film Festival and aired on ABC-TV. His short film NULLA NULLA world premiered at 2015’s Berlinale, while his next shorts were BLACK CHOOK and FINDING MAWIRANGA. In 2018 River directed the feature documentary FINKE: THERE AND BACK.


NORA NIASARI (The Phoenix): Born in Iran, Melbourne-based Niasari holds a Bachelor in Architecture from Sydney’s University of Technology and a Film & TV Masters from Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). Her graduate film THE PHOENIX (Simorgh) won the New Voices and Cinema Nova awards, while her film HIGH TIDE was selected in the top 10 of 50 short films during a 2015 Abbas Kiarostami workshop in Barcelona. In 2016, she completed an ADG/Screen Australia-funded Director’s Attachment with Emma Freeman on Matchbox TV Series SECRET CITY. In 2017, she completed short film WATERFALL (Screen Australia Hot Shots Program) and her first long form documentary, CASA ANTÚNEZ, competed in the Official Selection of the 24th Sheffield International Doc/Fest.


RUBY RAILEY (The Best Way to Kill Your Mother): After completing a Bachelor in Performing Arts in 2011, Railey worked as a freelance director, before completing a Film & TV Masters at Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). 


DAVID WHITE (Killer?): White’s previous documentary and drama films include SHIHAD: BEAUTIFUL MACHINE, I KILL, THE CLEANEST PIG and KILLER? His work has screened at more than 50 film festivals including Sundance, SXSW, SilverDocs, Tribeca, MIFF and Clermont Ferrand. David was the first New Zealander to be shortlisted for a Cinema Eye Honour for his film I KILL. In 2014, he graduated from the inaugural EPCRI course run by the NFTS, championed by Sir Richard Branson and sponsored by Ingenious Media.


SANJAY DE SILVA (Maalu): De Silva’s first short film MAALU played at several film festivals including Palm Springs International ShortFest and Miami International Film Festival, MIFF and Busan. Working out of Exit Films Melbourne, De Silva directs commercials and his own web series HOOD FOOD GUIDE (supported by Tourism Victoria) and is making his next short films SMALL TALK and PAWA.


LARISSA BEHRENDT (Under Skin, In Blood): Behrendt has a legal background, is an experienced researcher and is involved with several arts organisations and educational programs. She wrote and directed Walkley-nominated documentary INNOCENCE BETRAYED, which aired on NITV in 2014, and is Professor of Indigenous Research at Sydney’s University of Technology.

DAVID HANSEN (Slingshot): In 2005, Hansen was awarded Best Documentary from Film Victoria for HIGH FIDELITY and Most Outstanding Graduate Diploma Student (VCA). His 2009 film BLOWBACK premiered at Sydney’s Underground Film Festival and won Best Political Film. In 2007, David worked as Director’s Attachment on Baz Lurhmann’s AUSTRALIA and in 2011 he won Best Indigenous Resource at the ATOM awards for ANIJA, a 48-minute film devised in a remote community. His short SLINGSHOT won 27 awards (including Best Australian Short Film at Flickerfest) and screened at Melbourne and London Film Festivals.


TESS HUTSON (Euxine): Hutson graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts and then completed a Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Master of Film & TV in 2014. Her graduating screenplay EUXINE won the Postgraduate Film and TV Script Award. As a part of the award, she received a mentorship from the Australian Directors Guild with director Matthew Saville. She was also the 2014 recipient of the Erwin Rado Memorial Award for Excellence.


TED WILSON (Family Holiday): A Tasmanian writer/director, Wilson has a Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Screenwriting Masters. His previous short film BUILDING BRIDGES (Dir: Jessica Barclay Lawton) screened in the 2014 MIFF Accelerator program and he was selected for MIFF's 37°South PostScript & Direct program for emerging screenwriters. In 2015 he was awarded three filmmaking artist residencies – in France, Italy and Russia. FAMILY HOLIDAY won the Best Short Film and Audience Choice Awards at 2016’s ReelGood Film Festival. In 2018, his debut feature UNDER THE COVER OF CLOUD world premiered at MIFF.


ISAAC WALL (Looking to Buy): Melbourne-based Wall is a solicitor who transitioned to filmmaking. In 2014 he collaborated with James Vaughan on the documentaries NEAR AND FAR and HEADING NORTH. In the same year, he also founded the directors’ collective Fountain Vista with James Vaughan, Alena Lodkina and Sam Dixon. He served as co-writer and co-producer on Alena Lodkina’s 2017 debut feature STRANGE COLOURS.


TRACEY RIGNEY (Man Real): Rigney is a Wotjobaluk and Ngarrindjeri woman who has dabbled in the arts and was the youngest produced playwright in the history of the then Playbox Theatre Company (now Malthouse). Her past credits include the shorts DODGER’S HEART, ABALONE and documentary short ENDANGERED as well as the Steven Oliver web series A CHANCE AFFAIR. Rigney also wrote for the ABC TV series, THE WARRIORS and completed a director’s attachment on THE SAPPHIRES in 2012.


JEM RANKIN (Cherokee): Melbourne local Jem Rankin graduated from the Victorian College of The Arts (VCA) Film and TV school in 2014. His graduate short CHEROKEE was awarded Best Undergraduate Film and Best Undergraduate Director at VCA’s 2014. After MIFF, CHEROKEE screened at Flickerfest and 2016’s Tribeca Film Festival.


MELEESHA BARDOLIA (Match): Melbourne-based Bardolia graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) in 2014 where she studied directing and was the recipient of the Margaret Lawrence Social Justice Award and the MadMax Entertainment Award for Special Achievement. In 2012, she was awarded a Hot Desk Writing Fellowship from the Wheeler Centre to write a novella entitled ‘Waiting Upon Arrival’. Her previous short films have been selected to screen at the New York City International Film Festival, the Festival of Hope for Refugees and the NYC PictureStart Film Festival.


FLORENCE NOBLE (Things are Going Really Well): Noble has worked as a stills photographer, actor, writer and director. Noble created online sketch comedy Blind Pilot, and has since collaborated on numerous projects, including Emmy award-winning ABC-TV comedy 7DAYSLATER, web comedy MEANWHILE ON EARTH and online comedy series Waiheke Republique. She also directs commercials and content for Sydney and Auckland based company Eight.


MICHAEL PORTWAY (Wawi): Previously Melbourne-based Portway now lives in Estonia and is a Film & TV graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). His VCA graduate film WAWI world premiered at 2015’s Berlinale. Originally from Canberra, Portway worked for several years at local community photography lab/gallery PhotoAccess and later worked as a photographer and archival preservationist at the Australian War Memorial.


TIM MARSHALL (Followers): Marshall’s short films have played at numerous festivals. After his 2012 short GORILLA won the UK’s Iris Prize, awarding him £25K, his next short FOLLOWERS screened in competition at Sundance and SXSW in 2015.


KEIRAN WATSON-BONNICE (Caravan): Watson-Bonnice began making films in New York in the late 1990s. Working with non-actors and improvisation, Keiran’s films often blur the lines between documentary and fiction. His short CARAVAN (premiered at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival) was a return to narrative filmmaking after many years directing and editing commercials and feature documentary.


CHRISTIAN RIVERS (FeederRivers started working in New Zealand’s film industry as a storyboard artist and he has also worked as a Visual FX Art Director, CG Animator, Pre-visualization Supervisor and 2nd Unit Director. His debut feature MORTAL ENGINES, produced by Peter Jackson and starring Hugo Weaving, was released in 2018.



Accelerator Express - Directors selected by Screen Australia’s Hot Shots Program


LUCY GAFFY: A graduate of the Australian Film, TV & Radio School (AFTRS), Gaffy has worked across short films, documentaries, long-form projects and TV commercials. She was a 2009 recipient of a European Union Travel Scholarship to go to Helsinki’s DocPoint Festival with her Documentary CENTURY WITNESS. Her short films include 2010’s THE LOVE SONG OF ISKRA PRUFROCK, 201’s THE FENCE, which premiered at Busan, and 2015’s DREAM BABY. She had a 2016 attachment to TV mini-series BOND.


CORRIE JONES Melbourne-based Corrie Jones' film WATER won Best Short Film at 2010’s Milan International Film Festival. Jones directs TVCs with Melbourne’s Guilty and received funding from Screen Australia's Hot Shots program to direct his next short film.


MATT RICHARDS’ work spans short films and documentaries, TV commercials, branded content and music videos. He holds a Master of Directing Narrative (Victorian College of the Arts, 2011). His MIFF-selected short films FIRST CONTACT (2012), RABBIT (2014) and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF WILLIE BINGHAM (2015) have screened in competition globally at more than 100 festivals and collected many awards. He completed a director's attachment on ABC-TV series TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN. 


SARAH-JANE WOULAHAN is a Melbourne-based writer and director of fiction, documentary, music video, commercial, dance, transmedia and VR. Her shorts have screened at festivals internationally including South by Southwest and her HotShots funded sci-fi short A TERRIBLE BEAUTY premiered at MIFF 2016. She is represented for commercial work by Monster & Bear.



Accelerator Express - Director selected by ScreenWest’s West Coast Visions Program


CHRIS RICHARDS-SCULLY An Australian Film, TV & Radio School (AFTRS) directing graduate from Perth, Richards-Scully’s short films have screened at numerous international festivals and sold to TV worldwide. He served his directing apprenticeship on Jim Henson’s, Sci-Fi Channel series FARSCAPE and ABC-TV series PARALLAX. 




For photos of Accelerator 2014 click here


Accelerator Classic – participants with short films at MIFF 2014


JESSICA BARCLAY LAWTON (Building Bridges): Lawton’s graduate film MORNING STAR premiered at the 63rd Locarno Film Festival and then screened at more than 40 festivals worldwide. In 2013 she co-founded filmmaker collective Jerry Projects with Rhys Mitchell and their short WE KEEP ON DANCING won Best Live Action at Palm Springs Shortfest. Lawton’s web series MOVEMENT premiered at 2016’s Tribeca NOW Film Festival. In 2017, she completed a Film Victoria-funded Director’s Attachment on TV series Romper Stomper and was Director’s Assistant to Larysa Kondracki on Foxtel miniseries Picnic at Hanging Rock. She is signed as a TVC Director to TRUCE Films.


LEWIS ATTEY (Rhododendron): Melbourne-based Attey’s credits as writer/director include 2012 short film BASIL and a TVC for Tim Winton novel EYRIE. In 2013, Lewis completed the Bachelor of Film and TV at Swinburne University, where his graduate film RHODODENDRON won a Creative Excellence award. In 2016, Attey was director’s assistant to Simon Baker on BREATH and his 2019 short THREE STORIES INSIDE A RENTAL VAN premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival.


ANNA MCGRATH (She Was She): Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Film Narrative Masters 2008 graduate and artist-in-residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, McGrath’s films have screened at more than 70 festivals worldwide and won several prizes, including at Tribeca and Palm Springs. She also holds a 2017 Masters in Fine Arts (Directing) from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and her company REVEILLE collaborates with artists, performers and venues around the world to create multi-disciplinary projects.

Alumni Update Continued