Accelerator Lab 2017 Participants

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 including Munich Film School Fest and was distributed by Flickerfest in 2016. Her follow-up Mwah played at a number of festivals including Palm Springs International Film Festival and in 2017 she won ‘Young Australian Filmmaker of the Year’ at Byron Bay Film Festival. Nina’s TV directing debut was the 2019 Netflix Original Series ‘The Inbestigators’ and in 2022 she directed episodes of the ABC anthology ‘Summer Love’. Nina recently won the Filmmaker Fund from Rooftop Films in New York for a new short film script. She is represented by HLA Management.

Kate Lefoe (SOMERSAULT PIKE): A Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Masters of Film & TV graduate. Her graduate film, SOMERSAULT PIKE, which she wrote, directed and edited, screened in the Melbourne International Film Festival Accelerator Program, won Best Editing at Flickerfest Film Festival and received awards for sound design, editing and direction. Released as a Vimeo Staff Pick in 2018, it was viewed 32,000 times in the first week. Supported by Film Victoria, Kate is developing WICKED WOMEN, a web series drama based on a true story of Australia’s first Lesbian erotica magazine and the love story that started it all.

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 Wharfe McIntyre (MIRO): Having won more than 60 International awards, including BAFTA and AACTA, McIntyre’s credits include THE TELEGRAM MAN (part of the permanent collection OSCARS Academy Awards Film Archive),
ELDEST OF NONE (2014), LIFE’S A DRAG (2015) and IF YOU LOVE YOUR CHILDREN (2016). Victoria made her feature film directorial debut in 2020 with Madman Films’ THE FLOOD starring Alexis Lane, Shaka Cook and Dean Kyrwood.

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.


Pang’s short films, THE PALE MOONLIGHT, the Atom Award-winning MOTHER, CHILD and RADICAL HONESTY have screened at festivals such as MIFF, St Kilda, Flickerfest, HollyShorts, Fantasia, World-Fest Houston, Coronado Island, Peninsula Film Festival and Gold Coast Film Festival. Following an attachment on Foxtel’s A PLACE TO CALL HOME in 2018, Pang joined Seven Network drama HOME AND AWAY as an assistant director, then directing on the series in 2022. Pang’s also assistant directed on series including THE ARTFUL DODGER, LAST KING OF THE CROSS, HEARTBREAK HIGH and EROTIC STORIES. In 2023, Pang received Screen Australia and Screen NSW development funding for BRAND-AIDS, a dramedy series delving into woke capitalism and advertising.


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 who made his screen directing debut with acclaimed short MRS McCUTCHEON, which was crowned MIFF 2017’s Best Australian Short Film before playing at 140 festivals globally and winning more than 45 awards. His Premiere Fund-supported feature debut H IS FOR HAPPINESS world premiered at MIFF 2019, then won Cinefest-WA’s $100k Film Prize, and had its international debut in official selection at Berlinale 2020 Generations. After directing award-winning short TARNEIT, three-episodes of Paramount youth series MORE THAN THIS and two-episodes of ABC-tv mini-series IN OUR BLOOD, in late 2023, Sheedy shot his sophomore feature film RUNT starring Deborah Mailman, Matt Day and Jack Thompson.

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 9, The 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 when he wrote, produced, and directed I KEPT THE BEAT, an autobiographical Rockumentary style piece, based on his own life and 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. Crismani is directing a film on Medal of Honour recipient June Atkinson Murray, his Wiradjuri Aunt, and is currently a Key Creative on other projects.

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. Schilling is in financing with her debut feature film WITH OR WITHOUT YOU with producers Su Armstrong (GOOD WILL HUNTING, RED DOG) and Carolyn Johnson attached. She has also written, co-directed and shadow directed episodes of the Netflix/ABC children’s television show MAVERIX and directed three episodes of the Netflix show GYMNASTICS ACADEMY: A SECOND CHANCE.


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 Rider, Boy, Hunt 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) is a director of Māori and Pākehā heritage, based in Aotearoa New Zealand. Most recently Sanderson has finished directing an eight-part documentary series MOKO, about the revival of traditional Māori tattooing. In 2019 she finished her first NZFC-funded short film, WAYS TO SEE, and is currently writing her first feature film as part of the 2021 Film-Up intake with Script to Screen.


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). Since 2005 Lahooti has written and directed several academy accredited festival screening short films; worked professionally in grips, camera, lighting; story produced TV documentary series; as well as being an attachment to Kriv Stenders on RED DOG TRUE BLUE. Lahooti’s Screenwest/Screen Australia/Film Victoria-funded and MIFF Premiere Fund-supported directorial feature film debut BELOW premiered at MIFF 2019, and is now streaming on STAN. In 2019/2020 he worked as a screenwriter for Warner Brothers studios, and other local Australian production companies. His specs DIE WELL and MANICHEAN have made several high-profile screenwriting feature film lists including the Nicholls Semi-finals, and the Blacklist Best of Aussie List (which DIE WELL won in 2018).