Accelerator Lab 2018 Participants

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): Michael Leonard is a self-taught Melbourne filmmaker who cut his teeth creating experimental DIY films before beginning a collaboration with Jamie Helmer. Together they have created two short films that were both official selections at the Venice Film Festival – THE KNIFE SALESMAN (2017) and THE DIVER (2019), which also won best Australian short Film at Flickerfest 2020. They are currently developing their first feature, CALM.

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): Petropoulos is a Greek-Australian filmmaker. Having completed her MFA in Directing at Columbia University, Petropoulos’ short, TANGLES AND KNOTS, was selected for the Berlinale 2018 Generation 14Plus competition and SXSW in 2018. The film won the Canon Award for Best Direction at Flickerfest 2019 and Best Female Director Award at Hollyshorts 2019, as well as being nominated for a 2018 AACTA Award for Best Short Fiction Film and an ADG Award for Best Student Film. Petropoulos has been developing a variety of long-form projects with a focus on telling challenging female-driven and queer stories.

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, Köse’s VCA graduate short film CRUSH screened at festivals internationally. Köse’s short film premiered at Sydney Film Festival as part of the Lexus Short Film Fellowship. 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. She has also directed half an episode of NEIGHBOURS as part of a VicScreen director’s placement. Her latest project is Yaz Queens, an ABC and Screen Australia commissioned short film premiering on the ABC in November 2022.

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): Savill’s ELLEN IS LEAVING won Best Narrative Short Film Award at 2013’s SXSW Film Festival. Her first feature film MILLIE LIES LOW played at the 70th edition of MIFF in 2022. She also works as a commercials director for Good Oil 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): Nathan Mewett’s short films have qualified for Short Film (Live Action) presentation at the Academy Awards as well as being nominated for Short Film in the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards and winning Best film at Flickerfest International Short Film Festival, ATOM Awards, Gold Coast Film Festival, Heart Of Gold Film Festival, Human Rights, Arts & Film Festival and Qantas Vision Splendid Film Festival. His screenplays have won the Best Screenplay Award at Heart Of Gold Film Festival and Focus On Ability Awards and received a special mention for Screenplay at Sydney Film Festival. Together with Curtis Taylor, Mewett won Best Director at the Paris, Art and Movie Awards for the short film Yulubidyi – Until The End.

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, premiered at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival and was nominated for the 2018 ATOM Award for Best Short Fiction.

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. Cáceres is a recipient of Screen Australia’s Gender Matters/Brilliant Careers. In 2019 she was a director’s attachment for Leah Purcell’s feature THE DROVER’S WIFE. In 2020 Leticia directed her first block of TV, BUMP, a STAN Original Series produced by Roadshow Rough Diamond for which she will also direct season 2 in 2021. Leticia is currently director’s attachment on THE FIRES produced by TAP/ABC and supported by Film Victoria.

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 is an award-winning writer/director with multiple AACTA and ADG nominations including winning an ADG Award in 2021. Recently directing the Stan Original Film JONES FAMILY CHRISTMAS starring Heather Mitchell, Smith is a recipient of the Create NSW Generator: Emerging Filmmaker’s Fund for her short JOY BOY. Currently taking part in Screen Australia’s Talent Generator LA. In 2022, Smith’s Screen Australia funded, AWGIE winning television miniseries IT’S FINE, I’M FINE had its world premiere at the prestigious CanneSeries program, a sold out Australian premiere at MIFF before acquisition and broadcast by SBS. Smith is represented by United Agents, UK.

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

Marina Alofagia McCartney is a New Zealand born Samoan/Geordie. Her films have been selected for Palm Springs ShortFest, the NZ International Film Festival, imagineNATIVE & Hawai’i International Film Festival. Her last film VAI, an award winning portmanteau feature film made with 8 Moana Pacific women, opened the NATIVe section at the 2019 Berlinale, and screened at many festivals including SXSW, Edinburgh Film Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival. Marina is a PhD candidate exploring Moana Pacific filmmaking, involved with several writer’s tables, a proud Mum and is developing a range of projects including her feature film, THE RETURN.

Hweiling Ow: Hweiling’s online horror shorts, including “T is for Talk,” “The Tattooist,” and “The Claw,” have amassed over 20 million views. Since then, she has received film funding from New Zealand Film Commission for “Vaspy” (short film), “ChengBeng” (short film), and “Vivie” (short comedy). “Vivie” is one of the first four short films selected for Sydney SXSW 2024. Her feature film  “Grafted” will be released later this year.

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, a Nyul Nyul/Yawuru woman, worked on THE CIRCUIT – S1&2, BRAN NUE DAE, MAD BASTARDS, SATELLITE BOY, JANDAMARRA’S WAR, JASPER JONES, MYSTERY RD S1, THE HEIGHTS and TOTAL CONTROL S3. She has written/directed short films including a chapter of the MIFF Premiere Fund-supported THE TURNING. Clerc’s debut feature – the MIFF Premiere Fund-supported SWEET AS – world premiered at MIFF 2022, winning the $70k Blackmagic Innovation Award, before winning the NETPAC Best Asia/Pacific Film from its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and then winning 2023’s Berlinale Generation Crystal Bear for Best Film.


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).