International Institute of Modern Letters

MA Scriptwriting Students 2009

These are brief paragraphs about themselves written by each member of this year's class and emailed to the IIML. The intention is that they can read about each other on this website before they meet face to face. We also hope these snapshots will make interesting reading in future years.

Introducing the class of 2009:

Matthew Nagel

I've got a Theatre degree from VUW, which included one year at the University of Melbourne. I've also completed the first four months of the Agama Yoga curriculum in India and Thailand, over the span of a few years. I'm really interested in the psychology of acting and how it might connect to the chakra system. I was into painting and photography before I found my direction in theatre and film, and I think a visual emphasis still comes through strongly in my work. I enjoy working with technology, especially when it comes to multimedia theatre and experimenting with digital video. I also like doing some things the oldfashioned way; at the moment I'm working on a new set of commedia style masks, and my homemade liqueurs have met with varying levels of acclaim.

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Wendell Cooke

I've wanted to be a filmmaker for at least as long as the time I've been a classification officer at the Office of Film and Literature Classification. Five years spent watching pornography and Zgrade horrors have turned me into a firm believer that I can do better (and in other genres too), though I'm also hoping this belief is anchored in something a bit more foreordained. And lucrative. My addiction to 100g packets of smoked salmon is out of hand. On the plus side I am adept at befriending cats. Other random facts about me are that I lived in Beijing for three years and have one nearly four year old daughter named Penny.

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Deborah Carr

My name is Deborah Carr and I was born in Auckland not my fault! I grew up in Papua New Guinea and still consider myself part Melanesian. I moved to Christchurch at the age of 17 and did my BA (English and History) and honours (English) at the University of Canterbury. My favourite pursuits are writing (anything but the facts), reading, hanging around theatres, watching movies, and shopping for secondhand books.

I look on life (and history) as a story told by the master storyteller, and this looks like being a very interesting chapter.

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Sugu Pillay

A long time ago, the Headmistress of Sultan Ibrahim Girls School, held a mock oral exam for O-Level students. ‘And why do you want to be a writer?’ Then. as now, a paralysis cocoons me. No butterfly birth for me. I can, I suppose, say when it surfaced – this outrageous desiring (only the continuous tense will do) for Toth’s invention.

Probably in the hot afternoons after lunch, when Aunt Rasamah began her Mahabharata tales with Vyasa’s ‘From soka (sorrow) comes sloka (verse)’. And when aunt rendered, in her homespun Tamil, the sonorous Sanskrit of Yudhisthira’s reply to The Enchanted Lake’s question, ‘What is the greatest wonder in the world?’ ‘That man acts as if he lives forever’, the goose pimples went crashing through my tiny frame. Yeah. Where would we be without our selective memory?

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Arnette Arapai

Mother, Credit Controller and Playwright. I have written 3 plays and staged them at the Maidment studio in Auckland with 'Love Handles' in March 2005, 'Miss South Pacific' in November 2006 and 'Running with the Bulls' in June 2008. In 1996, I went to Pusan, South Korea for one month as part of my practical experience for my Diploma in Korean course and I nearly died from culture shock. I've won a $300 bar tab in a Mr Bean contest and when I found out I got accepted into this course, I ran down Franklin Road (just after Christmas) topless. Oh and I love drinking games, Bollywood movies and reading bridal magazines in my spare time and one day I'm going to go climb Mount Everest.

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Christopher Brougham

Hi everyone, I’ve been writing fiction since I was about 12 and was that kid who stayed in the classroom during recess to pen another adventure tale. I’m also an actor, mostly in theatre and have directed theatre and my own short film ‘Hopscotch’. Acting has given me a strong appreciation of good writing, and how they inform each other. My project is a sitcom called ‘Newtown’, set in Newtown, Wellington and features a septuagenarian comedian, his wife and circle of friends and family. I really look forward to meeting you all and applying myself to the task this year.

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Richard Finn

I emigrated with my family from the U.K. when I was 7, and spent my early years in the Far North. Discovered theatre while doing a B.A. at Auckland University, and went on to do the postgrad.

Diploma in Drama there. I continued down south to Wellington and the New Zealand Drama School, and after graduating I went further south and spent the next 7 years as the Associate Director of the Fortune Theatre in Dunedin. During that time I gained a grant to study overseas and spent time around theatres in London and Dallas. Back to Wellington and I am currently the Artistic Director of the New Zealand College of Performing Arts, which offers the Stage and Screen Arts programme at Whitireia Community Polytechnic. I've written several plays for the College, as well as for Youth Theatres, but I feel I've never really gotten serious about my scriptwriting. Now it's time.

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Colin Hodson

Colin comes to writing through filmmaking – he has directed two improvised digital features and improvised through a third. The films have played NZ and International Film Festivals. In 2005 he completed the writing and then directing programmes at the Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam. Back in New Zealand he edited and directed on ‘Sensing Murder’.

Currently he makes some music videos and some art videos and windsurfs Plimmerton and Lyall Bay. He came to filmmaking through theatre – he was an associate member of The Wooster Group, and technical director for Richard Foreman – both in New York City in the late 80's, early 90's.

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Gwyneth Hyndman

I’m a 31 year-old, beach-loving community reporter living in the Catlins and writing about everything from wind farms and council meetings to ag shows and school pet days. My father is from the Waikato, but my mother is from Santa Barbara, California, where I grew up. I’ve lived in New Zealand – permanently, for the most part – since I was 22, always in the South Island. I graduated from the University of Otago with a combined degree in anthropology and English Lit (i.e. I am a fantastic waitress). And obviously I love film. Looking forward to living and breathing the best of it for the next eight months with nine others. (Also, I'm a coffee addict – the strong, good stuff. No bio of me would be complete without that info).

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Amy Rountree

Amy worked as a reporter in a couple of very small NZ towns, before living in the UK and travelling in wartorn countries. Back home, she realised she could earn twice as much if she abandoned journalism for marketing. After doing that for a bit, she decided that if she was going to write fiction, it might as well be her own, and went to film school instead. Amy’s also worked in a zoo, on trading floors, in a monastery, on a few film sets, and in more windowless offices than she cares to remember. She’s currently writing voiceover scripts and field directing for a TV documentary series.

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