Film & Television Course Staff
School Director and Drama Directing Tutor
Gerben joined the NZ Broadcasting Corporation in 1966 as set designer. In 1974, he became Design Supervisor at CHTV3 during changeover to colour television.
Awarded Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council grant to study overseas, Gerben graduated from the Nederland’s Film Academy in 1978. He worked as editor and assistant director on British, Dutch, USA feature films before returning to work in NZ. He initially directed documentaries for South Pacific Television and action adventure TV series for Portland Productions UK, then set up his own company Arcadian Films to direct and produce dramas, commercials and videos.
Gerben’s credits include TV action adventure series Skycrane and Flying Kiwi, feature films Anagram and Firestorm, children’s TV series Space Knights and Early Bird Show. From 1999-2001, he was Executive Producer of Suzy’s World children’s science programmes for TV3. Gerben founded South Seas Film & TV School in 1991.
Film and Television Production Tutor
Jenny joined TVNZ Dunedin in 1981 as Producer’s Assistant on a variety of programmes such as ‘Spot On,’ and ‘World of Sport’ and then joined the Natural History Unit as Production Manager on ‘Wild South’ documentaries such as Kakapo and Yellow Eyed Penguin.
In 1987 Jenny joined the Eyewitness News team in Auckland and also worked on ‘60 Minutes,’ ‘Assignment,’ ‘Marae’ and ‘Waka Huia,’ before working for TV1 on outside broadcasts, such as the Olympics and World Cup Rugby.
Post Production Editing Tutor
After graduating from South Seas in 1997, Jon has enjoyed a successful freelance career in NZ and the UK, working on a variety of forms of television with various major production companies in both countries.
Jon, a trained teacher, joined South Seas in 2011 bringing with him a wealth of industry experience, technical knowledge combining with his teaching experience to ensure each year’s graduates enter the work force fully prepared.
Camera, Lighting & Audio Tutor
After graduating from South Seas in 1999, Ben worked in the industry for more than ten years before returning as tutor in the CLA department. Ben has worked professionally in all major areas of camera, lighting and audio. He has worked on feature films, television series, commercials, music videos, corporate videos, short films, reality shows, news and sports.
Ben is continuing to work in the film and television industry while tutoring at South Seas – a combination that means he is always improving his own skills and knowledge so he can give the best training to his students.
Art & Design Tutor
Allie is a qualified Adult Tutor and Assessor with a certificate in Commercial Art. She began her career in 1995, working in the art department on commercials and TV productions such as Shortland Street and Sale of the Century.
Allie runs her own design business and has designed product launches, national campaigns and live shows for corporate clients including New Zealand Lotteries Commission and L’Oreal New Zealand.
Allie joined South Seas in 2003 to establish and run the Art Department. Teaching to diploma level in subjects including design for special effects and conceptual design, Allie holds the position of Head of Department for Special Effects Make Up and Production Make Up.
Kate graduated from South Seas in 2001 having majored in documentary and drama directing. She’d previously gained a Psychology degree from Otago University and fittingly her screen career began in children’s television, directing and production managing various kid’s shows such as Suzy’s World for TV3. She then spent 6 years at Greenstone Pictures, first as a researcher, then as a production manager and later as a director. During her time there she help make over 100 hours of local factual programming, ranging from documentaries to factual reality series and docudramas. In 2005 she helped establish the boutique production company Third Party Productions, and then worked for 3 years line producing and directing numerous art series including the studio arts talk show Talk Talk, The Book Show, three series of Poets Corner, as well as a number of documentaries including feature length ones about screen icon Ian Mune and world famous pianist Michael Houstoun. After the birth of her first child, Kate started teaching screen production at the NZ Film Academy while continuing to work on factual TV contracts, most recently for Notable Pictures, where she has just finished associate producing the popular TV3 series Both Worlds, and helping to launch Loading Docs, an exciting new online documentary initiative funded by NZ On Air and the NZ Film Commission. Kate continues to direct and produce smaller documentaries and drama projects whilst tutoring at South Seas.
Sacha graduated from South Seas Film and Television School in 1995 where she specialised in Drama Directing, Production, Scriptwriting and Acting. She then went on to be part of a pioneering team at TVNZ delivering Local Community news on digital Platform as a researcher and field director shooting her own items. She also presented on the Breakfast show on Juice TV and then went on to work at TVNZ as a production manager and researcher. In 2000 Sacha headed up the America’s Cup Television Network at the Viaduct before heading to Sydney where she worked for Optus, Channel 10 and Foxtel directing and researching on life style programmes and factual, reality shows. Having had her first son in 2005, she felt it was time to come home where she worked as a Director at Sticky TV for a number of years before son Nos 2 joined the party. With a passion for children’s TV, Sacha has also provided content for Kidzone, Tiki Tour and directed 3 series of the Bryan and Bobby. Other work has included field directing for various reality TV shows and corporate work.
Screenwriting and Drama Directing – Part Time Tutor
Michael Bennett (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Whakaue) is one of New Zealand’s leading screenwriters and filmmakers whose work has screened at numerous film festivals including Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Locarno, New York, London and Melbourne.
Michael’s first produced screenplay, the short comedy Michelle’s Third Novel, was selected as the short film to accompany the US premiere of Pulp Fiction at the opening night of the 1994 New York Film Festival.
Michael has won or been finalist in the NZ Film and TV Awards in the categories of Best Screenplay (Feature Film), Best Screenplay (TV Drama), Best Screenplay (Short Film), Best Screenplay (TV Comedy), Best Screenplay (Documentary), Best Director (TV Drama) and Best Director (TV Factual).
Recent work includes Matariki (multi-narrative feature film which debuted at Toronto and has won numerous awards in NZ and internationally), and The Confessions of Prisoner T (award-winning documentary about the Teina Pora case). Michael has written and directed many dozens of hours of prime time television drama, including writing and directing for the first 3 series of Outrageous Fortune.
As a script consultant and developer Michael works extensively for the NZ Film Commission and Script To Screen. Michael was script consultant for 3 of the 4 finalists for the 2014 NZWG best short film screenplay award (including the winner, UFO).
Michael currently has 9 new feature films in active development including a Korean co-production, two Chinese co-productions, two animated features, and two features dealing with high profile New Zealand true crimes.
Post Production Assist & Computer Graphics Tutor
After graduating from South Seas in 2011, Kila has been involved in a number of productions, ranging from magazine-style programmes to long form documentaries as a freelance editor.
She also has a passion for education, and graduated from Victoria University in Wellington after completing a GradDipT in secondary school teaching. Kila, a native speaker of Te Reo Māori, brings with her a range of experience in tikanga Māori and has been able to incorporate those expertise in her role here at South Seas.
Camera, Lighting & Audio – Assistant Tutor
Andrew Denton graduated from South Seas in 2003 and went to work in the industry for several years as a contract Gaffer, Grip, Camera and Art Department Assistant.
Andrew is also a talented engineer and mechanic and is often called upon to create, construct or repair all manner of things. He has worked on many films and other creative projects and now has joined the South Seas camera, lighting and audio department.
Andrew now makes valuable contributions designing and constructing many items of film making equipment as well as building and maintaining school facilities.
Sound Recording – Part Time Tutor
Mike has lectured at South Seas since 1995. He is one of New Zealand’s most experienced sound recordists.
Mike’s credits include Smash Palace, Angel Mine, Starlight Hotel, Soldier’s Tale, Quiet Earth plus more than 60 documentary credits for major TV networks including CBS, NBC, PBS, and the BBC. He has worked on eight expeditions for The Cousteau Society filmed all over Australasia.
In recent years, Mike has serviced a large volume of episodic television drama shot in New Zealand for North American productions. He has also taught audio recording techniques for numerous courses including Unitec, The ITVA and The Moving Image Centre.
Camera and Lighting – Part Time Tutor
Grant McKinnon graduated from South Seas in 1993 and initially worked in the film industry as Gaffer and Camera Operator. He then setup his own lighting company Volcano Lighting Ltd which has provided lighting and crew to many well known feature films, including Tracker, Matariki, Strength of Water, The Tattooist, Number 2, Worlds Fastest Indian, In My Fathers Den, and Whale Rider.
Grant is now an established Director of Photography whose credits include: The Last Saint – Feature Film 2013 ; Director Rene Naufahu; Ross and Beth – Short Film 2013 ; Director Hamish Bennet; Super City ll – TV Series 2013; Director Oscar Kightley; Hope and Wire, TV Drama Series 2013 (Stand in DOP and 2nd Camera), Director Gaylene Preston; Toms Dairy, Short Film 2012 , Director Oscar Kightley… (Finalist for Cinematography 2013 Moa Awards ) Sunny Skies, TV series 2012, Director Mike Smith; Underbelly NZ :- TV series 2011, 2nd Unit and 2nd Camera, Director Mike Smith.
Sound Recording – Part Time Tutor
Ande Schurr graduated from South Seas in 2003. As a student he was inspired to learn the craft of Sound Recording from tutor Mike Westgate ex BBC and mixer on many feature films including ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ and international documentary series such the ‘Cousteau Expeditions.’ Mike taught Ande the importance of being able to record quality audio on diverse projects. As a result Ande has worked on NZ feature films such as ‘Housebound’ 2012, documentaries including National Geographic projects, TV Commercials and reality TV dramas. The quality of his work on all these projects has firmly established his reputation as a leading Sound Recordist.
Kaumatua and Rongo Advisor
Former General Manager of Aotearoa Radio, Haare has worked closely with iwi claimant communities, collecting and preparing oral testimonies for presentation before the Waitangi Tribunal and as a facilitator in oral histories working with iwi groups and for NZ Libraries.
Haare has published his poetry and held five solo art exhibitions. He has worked with the former Race Relations Office, was an Executive Director of the New Zealand 1990 Commission at Waitangi, and is currently the Chairperson of ProMa, the Maori advisory committee to ProCare.
Haare is South Seas Kaumatua and advisor to Maori students who have taken up the Rongo elective.
Course Director & Tutor
Greg is a character animator and storyboard artist for the entertainment industry. He has worked mainly in TV , in animation studios since 2000, and has worked on productions for animation luminaries including Disney, Warner Bros., and Nelvana Studios. His extensive experience also includes work on commercials, feature film and music videos.
Greg began teaching animation in 2007 and has developed course material and tutored at two other leading New Zealand tertiary institutions. “For today’s 3D animators and artists, the core skills are more important than ever.”
Life Drawing Tutor
Paul Hooker is a painter and graphic artist, and regularly exhibits his work. His experience is extensive to say the least.
Paul trains our students in classical drawing techniques, with a particular slant toward application in the field of animation, such as understanding the human figure in terms of movement. Paul’s classes focus on developing a strong knowledge and understanding of form, light, weight, balance and rhythm in drawing.
He also brings a vast knowledge of design and illustration to his teaching and is sought after as a tutor of life drawing, creative illustration and fashion design. Paul holds regular live model drawing workshops for the animation department.
Animation Tutor Assist
On Screen Acting Staff
John A. Givins
Course Director and Acting Tutor
After initially training as a stage actor and director, John joined the TVNZ Avalon Production department in 1982 and worked on a wide variety of studio productions.
In 1985 he directed a number of Country GP and Seeker drama series episodes, and gained a Best Drama Director nomination in that year’s GOFTA awards. In subsequent years, he directed many episodes of the pioneering Open Home drama series and became producer of the successful Kaleidoscope arts documentary series. He also produced and/or directed numerous productions such as the 1989 Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards, RTR Countdown, Laughinz and 3.45 Live children’s show.
Since leaving TVNZ in 1989, John has worked on contract for various production companies and broadcasters including Communicado, Kids TV, VIDCOM, TV3 and South Pacific Television, including directing the successful Shortland Street television soap series.
Maya has a background in teaching and performing arts. She has had a 30-year career in professional theatre, film and television as an actor, theatre director, casting director and child actor coach on location in New Zealand and overseas.
Her recent credits include casting director and acting coach on the acclaimed short films Ra and Lily and Swansong. She has also worked on the feature films The Strength of Water and Sunshine Cleaning.
In addition to her performances on stage and screen, Maya also uses her skills as an actor within the medical profession, as a role-player for the teaching and examining of communication skills.
Theatre Skills Tutor
Ben is the director of Auckland’s independent company Theatre Stampede. He studied drama and playwriting at The University of Otago, went on to complete a post-graduate diploma in drama at the University of Auckland, and continued his professional training at The John Bolton Theatre School in Melbourne. His theatrical work is hallmarked by a lightness and joy in performance; coupled with dramatic integrity and a demand for innovation.
Currently Ben works predominantly as a professional director with a bit of acting and teaching thrown in. As a teacher he is much sought after – recent teaching engagements include Auckland Theatre Company, AYA, UOA and the acting programme at Unitec.
Georgia is a highly respected Auckland singer and Vocal Coach. She trained as an actor at Toi Whakaari – the New Zealand Drama School, and has worked internationally in musical theatre, jazz and cabaret. She has studied many of the methods on offer (Estill, Linklater, Speech level singing, and traditional classical /Bel Canto technique) sound healing, and sound (Naad) yoga. All these techniques aim for a free, authentic and easily produced and sustained tone that is genre appropriate, and all require a development of the body as a sound-making instrument.
As a trained yoga teacher, she is known for her holistic and self-empowering teaching style that combines solid vocal technique with this overarching yogic awareness – that the body knows how to produce sound well, that the expression of the authentic self through voice, and the route to this mastery, is different for all. The techniques taught are individually tailored with a strong understanding of the psychology of singing, the art of storytelling through song, and how to reveal both individual truth and true human connection.
Linda acted at Theatre Corporate and the Mercury Theatre during their respective heydays. She was then Head of Voice at Unitec’s School of Performing & Screen Arts for fifteen years.
During her career Linda has been given Creative New Zealand grants on two occasions to study Voice with well-known teachers both in England and the United States. She has worked as dialogue/dialect coach on films such as The Lord of the Rings, No. 2 and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and on television shows including Shortland St and Terry and the Gunrunners.
Ruth Dudding has worked in theatre, television and video production for over 20 years as an actor, director, field producer, and camera operator.
She is an experienced drama and yoga tutor as well as being a Clown Doctor at Auckland’s Starship Hospital.
Ruth graduated from The New Zealand Drama School (Toi Whakaari) in 1983 and studied physical theatre and clowning at Ecole Jacques Le Coq in Paris in 1985.
She has performed in professional theatre since 1984 both in Wellington and Auckland and has appeared in a number of NZ produced television dramas.
She also manages her own video production business, creating corporate videos and directing/producing short films for National competitions and private contractors.
Course Director and Photography Tutor
Daniele started his photography career in Milan Italy right in the hub of contemporary European fashion and design industries. His passion for Still Life and jewellery photography alongside the use of 4×5 inch plate and medium format film cameras perfectly suited his meticulous style of work, which led to shoot for internationally acclaimed companies.
Daniele moved to London where for seven years he successfully worked as a still life and architectural photographer. Daniele is a forward going person and has recently moved again, this time to New Zealand and South Seas Film School.
Admin & General Staff
Nerida has worked as Production Manager and Supervisor on numerous television commercials, corporate videos and documentaries, and has also worked as Production Manager for TV3 Children’s production department. She has co-produced programmes for children and currently has projects for web distribution in development.
In 1993 Nerida returned to South Seas studios to take over both the Business Management and Administration of South Seas Film and Television School.
Kathy joined South Seas in December 2001 after spending the previous 10 years in an Auckland Chartered Accountants’ practice. Today she responsible for managing the School’s financial affairs.
Lauren joined the South Seas team in April 2006. She comes to us with a varied employment history, most recently in the print media industry. Lauren is a part of our marketing team, the high school & STAR liaison officer and an integral member of our administration staff.
Tonie started in November 2007 as the receptionist at South Seas. Her smiling face is usually the first one to greet students and visitors when they come to the South Seas campus.
Tonie’s job includes answering the phone, welcoming visitors, keeping track of where students and staff are during the day, and generally keeping the South Seas wheels running smoothly.
Daw Kwi Goh
Daw Kwi joined the South Seas staff team in 2011. He’s worked in several large companies in the industry and the IT department.
Along with his years of experience and thorough knowledge in computer server systems, he comes to South Seas to maintain and keep developing the school’s networks and systems.
Technical Operations Assistant
Jacob comes from a strong IT background and joined the South Seas team at the beginning of 2012. He enjoys working closely with Daw Kwi on the IT Systems and school servers and with Alejandro on the Website Development. With Daw Kwi he ensures that the school’s IT requirements are met.
Jacob also enjoys working on challenging projects for business or creative media application, just for fun.
Bert van Dijk
Dutch born and New Zealand based Bert van Dijk (PhD Theatre, MA Social & Clinical Psychology, Dip Dram, Dip Mime) is a theatre practitioner, social & clinical psychologist, director, scholar and drama educator of international repute. Bert is a regular guest tutor at drama schools and universities throughout New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia, and is widely recognized as an expert and innovator in the fields of collaborative theatre, presence, extended voice training, the Michael Chekhov acting technique and intercultural performance. In 2011 Bert was the first to complete a practice-based PhD in Theatre in New Zealand, developing an original intercultural model of performance making that reflects and connects strongly with the geographic, cultural and spiritual dimensions of a location or region. He is a published author, received several awards, including runner up Phillip Parson Prize (2011) and Fulbright Award (2014), conducts world song choirs around the globe, is the Lead Researcher and Academic Advisor at PIPA, and is Acting Lecturer at the Intercultural Theatre Institute in Singapore.