Ness Simons is a director and scriptwriter, and the head tutor at the New Zealand Film School which is soon to become part of Te Auaha.

“We live and work in New Zealand’s creative capital. Te Auaha will bring together talented young people, industry and education into one creative space – film, arts, performance, sound and camera will be under one roof. It will be exciting to see where we can strengthen what we do and what opportunities unfold,” says Ness Simons.

With a background in scriptwriting and directing Ness is often on set supervising film students with their own productions. "I really enjoy sharing my experience, of life and film-making, and I encourage the students to do the same and really embrace the collaborative nature of the industry."

“The art and practice of becoming a filmmaker is complex,” says Ness. “Anyone can pick up a phone or a camera and start shooting a video, but it takes a great deal more skill to become a filmmaker. Our students get to practice using old analogue SLR cameras so they experience tactile film through to state-of-the art cameras such as the Arri-Alexa camera. 

“Film students are hands-on making movies and the whole way through their qualification they have industry working with them.

“We set students up for a sustainable career in the film, TV and production industry. We teach them a way of being viable in the industry and to contribute to projects as a professional.  There is a lot for them to learn in order to succeed in this industry. As well as developing technological skills, just as important are the skills of storytelling, composition and lighting, pre-production planning and working within budget. 

“As well as making their own films, students learn to work in multi-disciplinary teams. They crew on each other’s films in a variety of roles so when they are ready to work in industry they have end-to-end experience of film production. Students also greatly benefit when we bring in professional filmmakers to contribute to tutorials and to critique their work, and many of them are offered work opportunities by these same industry tutors upon graduation. 

“We provide students with a really solid foundation of film making so they can see where and how they fit. 

As for Ness she switched to film later in life. “I graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Scriptwriting at Whitireia in 2009, and joined the NZ Film School in 2010. Since then I've worked on a range of projects including crewing for the Good Morning show, directing and writing films such as Actually Alex - a short film funded by the NZ Film Commission, and my own creative projects.”

Projects have included the Pot Luck webseries which has received over 2 million views and featured in film festivals around the world. Pot Luck had its first season in 2016 and has been nominated was a winner of 10 Merit Awards at the Rome Web Awards, including Best LGBT series. Ness and the team are looking forward to filming the second series later this year.

As well as teaching two cohorts of the Certificate in Introduction to Film and Television Production, Ness has taught scriptwriting online at Whitireia, and run workshops for the Emerging Artists Trust which supports new practitioners in the film, theatre, and visual arts industries. 

Programmes in Screen Production, Digital Film and Television will be delivered at Te Auaha in 2018.