WIFT NZ Events

Gwen Isaac, Director/Producer

Gwen, tell us a little about yourself: your background, work history + why you decided to pursue a career in film and television.

I recently returned to NZ after a decade of working in broadcast television in the UK. As a freelance television director I worked for RDF, Endemol, Lion Television, and broadcasters ITV and the BBC.

In 2003, my documentary, "Old Dogs, New Tricks", about retired racing greyhounds, was selected as part of the prestigious ITV London young director's series, Metroland and broadcast primetime to critical acclaim.

In 2006 I established Midnight Swim Productions USA, filming Sylvester Stallone in the Thai jungle as well as directing for the BBC and NBC in the states.

Michael Apted's "29-up" aired when I was a child which set off my interest in factual television. I have since set out to tell unexpected and engaging human stories.

Tell us about your current project.

For the last two years I've been filming an observational documentary centred around Margaret, a Kiwi with Motor Neuron disease. Margaret has a complex but joyful attitude towards dying. MND - or 'locked-in syndrome' is a cruel and relentless illness. But, says her neurologist, "as Margaret dies, she shows us how to live".

This year I had my second child. Normally this would coincide with downing tool for an observational documentary film-maker. But I couldn't put this on hold, so now Hope (Margaret helped me name her) is part of the crew, either in a front-pack whilst filming, or being held by contributors.

I would love to find a post-production house in Wellington to come on board as a co-producer, and donate expertise and facilities to help bring together an important film with international appeal.

Why do you think it's important for women to have access to the types of mentorship, networking and professional development opportunities that WIFT offers?

Thanks to WIFT, this year I was assigned a mentor in Pietra Brettkelly. Pietra's professional advice and support has been extremely valuable during the film-making process. Early on I showed her footage and her belief in my subject matter has helped me stay on message. It is an isolating experience shooting documentaries, especially as a one-woman-band, yet WIFT enables like-minded professionals to find each other.

Interviewed: Wed 05 December

View Gwen Isaac's membership profile.