Meet the Diverse Voices crew
A talented crew of Wellingtonians have joined forces to produce a documentary about our under-represented and diverse local filmmakers
The team behind the scenes involves Pachali Brewster, who has produced and directed the documentary about diversity, innovation, and sustainability in Wellington’s film industry.
She has combined with 23-year-old up-and-coming Kiwi filmmaker Ben Dickens, who is director of photography and editor for Diverse Voices, and Victoria University of Wellington senior lecturers of design technology and film, Raqi Syed and Missy Molloy, who were asked to serve as facilitators on the project.
Together they worked with six different innovators from six different backgrounds, Laura Yilmaz, Oriwa Hakaraia, Casey Zilbert, Kathleen Winter, Jade Jackson and Aditya B. Parige, forming a hui around the central question "how can we make screen work different".
The project was made possible by the generous donation of space and equipment from Massey University’s College of Creative Arts - Toi Rauwharangi.
Pachali has been producing, writing, and directing uproarious and unconventional indie content for the stage, screen, and internet for the past 16 years. Proudly queer and Thai/Pakeha, she specialises in producing risqué comedies, satire, and genre-bending content.
On the side, Pachali finds deep fulfilment in building creative communities and empowering women and emerging artists.
She produced and founded the ShoeString Film/Theatre Challenge, a recurring community/variety event since 2010, aimed at fostering creativity on a shoestring budget and making arts accessible for performers and audiences - and from 2018-2020 she co-facilitated the Emerging Women Filmmakers Network in Wellington, a grassroots support and networking community.
"I leapt onto this project because there’s nothing I don’t like about meeting awesome people, gathering a talented crew, collaborating on cool production design, having deep and meaningful conversations, and speaking truth to power,” says Pachali.
"Being supported to produce a work that taps directly into my life experience of being, well, different, and connecting with the incredible people we profiled, and the team we built on those grounds, has been truly, madly, and deeply rewarding.”
Wellington-based Ben has felt his local film knowledge and appreciation has grown extensively from meeting and collaborating with those associated with Diverse Voices project.
Ben’s background and passion is rooted in documentary and music. In 2020 he released “A Living Culture”, a short documentary about sustainable fashion design in India which has since featured in nine film festivals and won him Best Cinematographer for Short Documentary in the Bettiah International Film Festival 2021.
In 2019 he graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Media Production by shooting a 20-minute documentary for MFAT about Tokelau’s response to climate change that has travelled worldwide and was showcased in COP25.
He has had credits working with bands like Fat Freddy’s Drop, L.A.B, The Phoenix Foundation, Rhombus, and Dallas Tamaira.
At his core, Ben wants to make films and work that has the ability to move people and to work with others that bring joy and passion to life and filmmaking.
As a writer, visual effects designer and researcher, Raqi is interested in elevating the voices of technical artists to ensure the material is more meaningfully integrated in the design and ideation of story.
As she says, technical art - computer graphics, visual effects, digital animation and immersive technologies - have become an integral part of the screen sector.
“Screen art across mediums is converging - artists and writers who understand technical art have a super power in their storytelling arsenal.”
Raqi began her career in animation as a lighting artist for Disney Feature Animation on films like Meet the Robinsons and Tangled.
She then went on to work as a senior technical director with Weta Digital on films like Avatar, The Planet of the Apes and The Hobbit Trilogy.
Raqi’s practice and teaching focus on the materiality of light and hybrid forms of non-fiction and genre storytelling. Her current research develops an anti-racist critical aesthetics of visual effects.
In 2020 Raqi co-directed Minimum Mass with Areito Echevarria, an interactive narrative experience for virtual reality.
In addition to playing in competition at Tribeca, Cannes, and Venice International Film Festivals, the experience won the 2020 Annecy International Animation Film Festival Crystal Award for “Best VR”, and the “VR Award” at ANIDOX Denmark.
Missy, who has more than a decade of experience teaching women’s, queer and alternative cinemas, is well aware that film strongly influences culture.
“The fact that it has historically been one of the most exclusive mediums of artistic expression is a major social problem…
“Promoting diversity is high on the film culture agenda at present because it offers an opportunity to support and resource storytelling on-screen that better reflects the variety of human experience and perspective.”
Missy’s recent publications include ‘Fetal imagery and alternative maternities in Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake (a chapter in Mothers of Invention: Film, Media, and Caregiving Labor, Wayne State University Press, April 2022), ‘Aotearoa pioneering LGBTIQ, Indigenous and environmental production: The case of Rūrangi in New Zealand’ (Journal of Environmental Media Volume 2, No. 2 2021), and Indigenous feminism revitalizing the long take: Waru and The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media Spring 2021).
Her book Screening the Posthuman (co-authored with Pansy Duncan and Claire Henry) will be published by Oxford University Press later this year.