New Zealand Writers Guild announces the recipients of the First Round 2021 NZWG Seed and Seed Advanced Grants

The New Zealand Writers Guild is pleased to congratulate the recipients of the first round of Seed and Seed Advanced for 2021.

Seed is one of the most competitive writer-only grants for draft feature film scripts in New Zealand. They want to take this opportunity to thank the writing community for continuing to write with spirit, originality and most importantly with resilience! The age-old saying “You gotta be in it, to win it” is so true for this grant. The judges cannot award grants to writers who do not apply.

Top applicants in this round demonstrated an ability to present applications of the highest standard. Many of the top applications in the Seed and Seed Advanced pathways had entered the same project previously, and showed growth, development and perseverance in their works.

This round received 126 Seed and 25 Seed Advanced eligible applications.

Seed is judged through a blind-read process. The judges assess each application on three key criteria:

  1. Idea – is it compelling/engaging? Does it have an audience?
  2. Craft – is the writer able to execute the screenplay on a high enough level to deliver on the promise of the idea?
  3. Voice – is the writer’s voice original and clear?

A point to note about the blind-read process, the assessors do not have access to any identifying details of the writers applying to Seed and Seed Advanced, the works are judged solely on their application materials. NZWG Staff and Board do not have any input on the judging process.

NZWG would like to thank the New Zealand Film Commission for continuing to support screenwriters of Aotearoa through the Seed and Seed Advanced grants.

Congratulations to this round of recipients!

Alice Shearman
Executive Director | New Zealand Writers Guild – Te Puni Taatuhi o Aotearoa

Seed Grant Recipients
Round 1, 2021

Sinead Lau – NOT THIS TIME
Uninterested in reconnecting with her estranged Chinese family, Lily’s life is upended when she unintentionally time travels back to 1960 New Zealand; the heyday of their ancestral fruit shop.

Two entrepreneurial sisters try to overcome sexism in start-up funding by inventing a fake male cofounder for their company, but the fictional dude quickly takes over, derailing their business and unraveling their relationship.

PANIC across Aotearoa New Zealand as iconic national landmarks go missing. Two young siblings Daisha and Ari will have to learn to work together to prove themselves in a world of adults in order to crack the case of this GREAT KIWI CAPER.

In Ancient Polynesia, a rivalry between warriors sets off a decade long revenge plan for a young Tongan orphan. An angel and mythical creature seek to intervene before its too late.

Seed Advanced Grant Recipients
Round 1, 2021

Tusi Tamasese – MOONFLOWER
A novice pigeon snarer is called upon to capture a forest deity who guards two oak trees needed to complete the construction of a traditional Grand House.

Stephanie Cullen – WHAIAIPO
A young man escapes from his abusive past into the world of 1930’s deer culling, but his budding feelings for a fellow culler forces him to confront aspects of himself he would rather keep buried.

NZWG would like to thank the judging panel of: Sav Rodgers, Kath Akuhata-Brown, Matthew Horrocks and Ainsley Gardiner, for their time, expertise and care in reading and assessing all the applications. They implore applicants to continue working on their scripts and encourage writers to seek critical feedback and then use it to master their craft and push their story to its greatest potential.

The assessors remind applicants that reading the Seed and Seed Advanced Guidelines, removing all identifying details, proof reading, correct formatting of scripts and mastering application materials – logline, synopsis, treatment, and sample scripts – does convey craft, professionalism and understanding of the application process.


Sav Rodgers is a filmmaker and writer from Kansas City. His creative work centres on the queer experience through a comedic or personal lens. Director of Chasing Amy (2022). Sav is the Founder and Executive Director of the Transgender Film Center, assisting trans creators to bring finished films to audiences around the world. Serving on the Board of Directors for the Transgender Film Center, Film Society KC, and Advisory Council of the Vidiots Foundation. And a programmer at numerous film festivals, including Slamdance, Outfest, and the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival.

Kath Akuhata-Brown (Ngāti Porou) is a screenwriter, director, former NZFC development executive and television documentarian. She is known for Purea (2020), Koka and Wash Day (2021).

Mathew Horrocks is a producer of short films, documentaries, and feature films in New Zealand. Producing Beyond the Known World – a NZ / Indian co-production. In the UK he worked in production roles on 28 Days Later and Calendar Girls. Mostly recently Matthew was responsible for the management of Screenwest’s development & production funding programs and manages Screenwest’s $16m WARFF fund. As the head of the funding team, he also oversees Business Affairs, Indigenous, Diversity, Production Attraction and Talent Development activities along with current VR/Immersive and Australian/Indonesian co-pro strategies.

Ainsley Gardiner (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui/Ngāti Awa/Ngāti Pikiao) is a producer and director. Producing and co-producing some kiwi greats like Kombi Nation, Two Cars, One Night – which became the first NZ short to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film – Tama Tū, Eagle vs Shark and the highly successful Boy, which set a new record for the highest grossing New Zealand film. Ainsley directed Mokopuna, Waru, and most recently Co-Directed Cousins with Briar Grace-Smith.

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