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From DEGNZ Director’s Attachment to directing 800 Words

Directors & Editors Guild of NZ (DEGNZ) member and director Helena Brooks has taken up a two-episode directing role on the third series of South Pacific Pictures’ (SPP) Channel 7 TV drama production 800 Words, following the successful conclusion of her DEGNZ TV Drama Director Attachment on SPP’s The Brokenwood Mysteries.

“The recent DEGNZ director’s attachment was an excellent way to learn how drama operates at SPP,” Helena Brooks said. “During the attachment I directed a couple of days on Brokenwood Mysteries, which led to 2nd unit directing on Westside. I was then asked to direct a block of 800 Words, which I’m really looking forward to. SPP is like a finely tuned instrument with a big family vibe and I really love being amongst it.”

Brooks will direct one block (two episodes) of 800 Words starting in April, and will see those episodes through post production.

“We are ecstatic that our TV Drama Director initiative has resulted in Helena moving onto fulltime directing of drama,” said Executive Director of DEGNZ Tui Ruwhiu.

“We are extremely pleased to add Helena to our roster of directors, and we applaud both the DEGNZ and NZ On Air for their support of the directors attachment initiative,” CEO of South Pacific Pictures Kelly Martin said.

“Helena’s success is heartening. I’d like to congratulate Helena on her achievements to date and hope we will see many more drama productions directed by her in the future,” said NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson.

800 Words is a 24 x 1-hour comedy drama series produced by South Pacific Pictures and Seven Productions. The series premiered in Australia in September 2015 and quickly became the #1 drama on Australian television as well as topping the Tuesday night primetime ratings. 800 Words also premiered in New Zealand on TV One in late 2015. Erik Thomson plays George, a man who used to skate through life but who is now stumbling. When his wife dies suddenly, George makes a rash decision to move his two teenaged kids away from the big smoke of Sydney to the picturesque town of Weld in New Zealand. All he wants to do is make a fresh start but it seems that everyone – his kids, the townspeople, the universe – have other ideas. This is a Seven and South Pacific Pictures production created by James Griffin (Outrageous Fortune, The Almighty Johnsons) and Maxine Fleming (Being Eve, Outrageous Fortune). Season Two of 800 Words is currently screening on Channel 7 in Australia and in New Zealand on TVNZ One.

The TV Drama Attachment initiative is an industry professional development activity funded by NZ On Air and the production company involved and managed by DEGNZ. It is intended to give emerging drama directors the opportunity to shadow an experienced director through the pre-production, production and post-production process as a means to improve their craft skills.

Helena Brooks
Helena Brooks was born in London and raised in New Zealand. She is on the commercials roster for Kiwi company Flying Fish, and has helmed commercials for brands such as Lotto, Burger King and Vodafone as well as TV sketches for shows Jono and Ben at Ten and Comedy for Cure Kids.
Her short Nothing Special — a comical tale of a young man struggling to escape the attentions of an overzealous Mum — was nominated for best short at the Cannes Film Festival and bought for broadcast by Canal Plus and SBS.

South Pacific Pictures is New Zealand’s largest screen production company and has an international reputation for producing world-class television and film. The company is in its 28th year of operation and to date has produced more than 5000 hours of programming. Drama series and serials, feature films, and more recently, entertainment, reality programming, factual series and documentaries are all part of the programming mix. The current slate includes work for New Zealand, Australian, Canadian and European broadcasters.

The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ is a not-for-profit membership organisation that represents Directors and Editors in the New Zealand screen industry. This includes Directors and Editors of feature drama and documentary; television drama, documentary and factual programmes; short films; video art; animation; commercials and web content.

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