Directing Masterclass with Acting Coach Howard Fine

Howard Fine

Directors & Editors Guild of NZ is pleased to offer a Directing Masterclass with acting coach Howard Fine who for over a quarter of a century has built an unshakable reputation as one of the most gifted acting teachers of his generation.

In this Directing Masterclass, Howard will supervise the directors to work with an ensemble of paired actors on pre-selected scenes.

Howard will teach directors how to articulate their visions in a way that allows actors to live authentically within the world of the script. He focuses on areas of personalisation, technique, script analysis and insights into authentic human behavior.

Background and Auditing

A two-day Masterclass for actors (Fri 21 – Sat 22 June) organised by Equity NZ will precede the Directing Masterclass (Sun 23 June). Each full day consists of rigorous exploration of technique as Howard works with the ensemble of actors on pre-selected scenes. The same actor pairings and scenes will be used for the three days.

It is highly recommended that prospective directors also “audit” both days of Howard’s acting Masterclass as this will greatly enhance and inform their understanding of the work undertaken in the workshop. It is also a wonderful opportunity to observe Howard’s technique, lessons and processes.

But it is permissible if prospective directors can only commit to Saturday and Sunday. You will be asked to indicate which days you can commit to in your application.

Note: Both Masterclasses will be open to Auditors from Equity NZ and DEGNZ. Any work done by the selected directors will be in front of an audience of industry peers in a supportive, learning environment.

About Howard Fine

Unique among his contemporaries, Howard is an award-winning acting coach, an award-winning author on acting and is the head of an award-winning acting studio. Howard Fine has trained Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actors in the US, and AFI, AACTA and Logie winning actors in Australia. He has personally coached many of the world’s most notable, recognisable and decorated actors, including Jennifer Connelly, Will Smith, Bradley Cooper, Chris Pine, and Oscar winner Jared Leto. As the Creative Director of two permanent studios, Howard Fine splits his time between Los Angeles and Melbourne.

“Howard Fine is an extremely skilled teacher. He has the ability to help actors create beyond their own experience in a way that is both exciting and compelling. Personally, I feel he is one of the greatest acting teachers working today.”

Martin CampbellDirector (Casino Royale, Edge of Darkness, Vertical Limit)

Workshop Details

When: Sun 23 June, 9am – 6pm

Where: TBC, Auckland

Price: (includes auditing of acting Masterclass days) 
DEGNZ member – Free / Non-member – $60

How to Apply

Application Deadline: 9AM, Wednesday 5 June 2019

STEP 1: Submit your details using the form below.

STEP 2: Send in one PDF to

  • your bio and/or CV, and
  • a brief, maximum 1-page letter that summarises why you would like to participate.

Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.



This workshop is brought to you in conjunction with The Equity Foundation and with the generous support of the New Zealand Film Commission.


5-Day Travis Technique Intensive Workshop for Directors


DEGNZ invites New Zealand directors to apply for a 5-Day Travis Technique Intensive from August 14 – 18 in Auckland. The workshop is designed to fully immerse a small number of directors (max. 5) into STORY (Autobiographical Storytelling), CHARACTERS (Interrogation Process) and STAGING (Power of Placement). By practicing The Travis Technique on a story from their own life, directors will gain the confidence to apply their new skills to their own projects right away.

Based in California, Mark Travis trains directors in The Travis Technique worldwide.

Go beyond result directing and venture into inspired and impactful collaboration with your characters

The greatest obstacle for directors and actors is their desire to control the characters. Directors control by demanding results. Actors control by planning their performances, thereby effectively blocking the characters from emerging freely and organically.

The problem is that most directors are not given the training in how to engage with actors in a creative and collaborative way. Without these skills for inspiring and supporting the actors, directors will revert to result directing. This forces actors to fabricate the emotions and attitudes they think will please the director.

With The Travis Technique, directors can bring out the characters’ emotional truths from the actors without falling back on result directing. Actors can release their characters from within – complex and unpredictable, lusting and tumbling through the drama of their lives. Even the most vanilla scenes will start to breathe and pulse.

Once directors and actors have worked together in rehearsal, exploring the characters’ relationships and dynamics in the scenes, the quality of performances will be markedly heightened. During production, multiple takes can be tweaked quickly and efficiently, saving time and money.

“I love working with Mark. It’s as if he opens the top of my head and rummages around in there until all my internal voices are alive and conflict… then he calls action. I can’t plan or play it safe, I am forced to exist in the moment. It’s a gift for an actor.”

Tandi Wright
Tandi WrightActor (Nothing Trivial, Daffodils)

“I was fortunate enough to attend a 10 day intensive Mark Travis technique in [Los Angeles]. I found the workshop immensely beneficial. Especially in regards to workshopping characters, deepening my script and also blocking scenes in a more dynamic and interesting way.”

Zoe McIntosh
Zoe McIntoshDirector (The World in Your Window)

Our Tutors

MARK W. TRAVIS is one of the world’s leading authorities on the art of film directing, writing and storytelling. On-stage, he has directed over 60 theatre productions in Los Angeles and New York. Author of two important books on filmmaking and winner of over 30 directorial awards in theater, Mark Travis has developed a fresh and innovative approach to writing and directing that cuts to the living and breathing core of every story, script and character. Mark has taught his dynamic Travis Technique at over 50 film schools and director’s guilds around the world. Affectionately called “the director’s director,” Mark is in constant demand to consult on film projects worldwide.

ELSHA TAYA BOHNERT is an award-winning artist and poet, and the author of Don’t Trip over the Garden Hose (Deuxmers, 2013). Elsha has been a longtime student of Mark Travis’ autobiographical storytelling workshops in Hawai`i and is the only person authorized by him to teach it. With her background in multicultural learning and narrative medicine, she helps students learn The Travis Technique through playful and provocative games. “You have to be like an ancient four-year-old,” she says, “clueless and wise about the enchanted worlds we come from and still carry around in our bodies.”

Workshop Details

When: 14 – 18 August, Wed to Sun 9am – 6pm

Where: Samoa House, The Actors’ Program, 283 Karangahape Rd, Auckland

Price (Usually $4000 USD): 
DEGNZ member – $500
Non-member – $1000


To be considered for the course, directors must meet ONE of the following:

  • You’re in advanced development on a feature film (can be a debut feature).
  • You’re attached to direct scripted drama that’s likely to go into production.
  • You have directed on a feature film, scripted drama or telefeature.

What you will need

Selected directors will need to begin preparation two months prior in order to be best prepared to get the most out of the Intensive. Prep will begin with the assignment of writing a short 3-minute autobiographical story. Mark and Elsha will work with each director to develop the characters and deepen their story ahead of the workshop.

Note: Any work done by the directors will be observed in a supportive, collegial environment. This workshop will be open to observation by a modest-sized group of actors and fellow DEGNZ members.

To Apply

Application Deadline: 9AM, Monday 17 June 2019

STEP 1: Submit your details using the form below.

STEP 2: Send in one PDF to

  • your bio, and
  • a brief, maximum 1-page letter that explains why you would like to participate. If you are in development, please provide details of the project, including what stage it’s in and key people.

Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.


This workshop is brought to you with the generous support of the New Zealand Film Commission.


CANCELLED: Christchurch – Rehearsal & Performance with Director Simon Bennett

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Rehearsal & Performance logo

The Rehearsal & Performance series provides regular opportunities for directors and actors to practise their craft. Each workshop brings in an experienced moderator to guide participants as they explore a workshop scene in groups (one director, two actors) in a safe and non-pressured environment.

Our next round is happening in Christchurch with director and past Rehearsal & Performance moderator Simon Bennett.

When: Sat 11 May, 9am – 2pm
Where: Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, 59 Hewitts Road, Merivale, Christchurch


Simon Bennett

Simon Bennett / photo courtesy of Amanda Billing.

Simon Bennett has worked extensively as a stage and screen director and producer since graduating from Toi Whakaari in 1988. In 1995, he moved into television work: first directing, then producing Shortland Street.

In the years since, Simon’s directing highlights have included five seasons of Outrageous Fortune (for which he won an Achievement in Directing award in the 2007 Air NZ Screen Awards), Sione’s 2: Unfinished BusinessThe Almighty Johnsons, and Spies and Lies.


Selected directors and actors will be expected to do some script prep beforehand. DEGNZ will provide the scene at least one week in advance.

Register your interest

Spots are limited to four directors and eight actors. If your name is selected, DEGNZ will contact you directly to confirm your participation. Only members of DEGNZ and Equity NZ are eligible to register.


CANCELLED: Unfortunately, DEGNZ can no longer hold the event on this date. We apologise for any inconveniences caused.

The Rehearsal & Performance series is hosted by Directors & Editors Guild of NZ with the support of Equity New Zealand and funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.

Call for Applications: Directing Actors Workshop with Ian Hughes

Directing Actors workshop

DEGNZ is now accepting applications for a one-day Directing Actors Workshop in Wellington with highly experienced actor and director Ian Hughes.

Ian HughesIan Hughes’ breakthrough role was in acclaimed TV series and movie Topless Women Talk About Their Lives. Topless was followed by multiple TV guest parts (Xena, Bliss, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Go Girls) and film roles (He Died with a Felafel in His Hand, Memory and Desire). He wrote, starred and directed in his own Kafkaesque short, The Waiting Room, and toured his acclaimed one-man play Ship Songs.

Ian has worked with many of New Zealand’s top directors including Niki Caro, Peter Jackson and Michael Hurst, and is now primarily a TV and commercials director himself, with work on Step Dave and nearly 300 episodes of Shortland Street.

The class shall explore a range of principles, tools and techniques that address issues that arise in casting, rehearsal and shooting. Ian will help directors increase their confidence and creativity when working with actors.

The workshop has ten places and is aimed at emerging directors with some directing experience. Prospective participants may be developing projects for Fresh Shorts, Premiere Pathways, or with features in funded development.

Selected participants will be required to do a bit of prep before the workshop.

When: Saturday 1 December, 9.30am – 5.30pm
Where: The New Zealand Film and Television School, 86 Vivian St, Wellington

A travel allowance may be available to some DEGNZ members travelling from outside of the Wellington Region.

Cost: DEGNZ members – Free, Non-members – $100. Lunch provided.

To Apply

Application Deadline: 3PM, Thursday 22 November 2018

STEP 1: Submit the form below.

STEP 2: You will be redirected to the File Upload page, which can also be found here. Upload your application file(s) in PDF or Word Document. Submit before the deadline:

  • your CV/filmography with links to examples of your work
  • a brief, maximum one-page letter on why you would like to attend and what you hope to gain from the workshop

Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.



This workshop is brought to you with the generous support of the New Zealand Film Commission.


Rehearsal Dynamics with Jennifer Ward-Lealand

Jennifer Ward-Lealand

Call for Applications. DEGNZ invites directors to apply now for Rehearsal Dynamics, taught by New Zealand actor Jennifer Ward-Lealand. This 1-day workshop will be held in Auckland on Saturday 22 September.

Deepening and Enriching the Actor’s Performance

At Rehearsal Dynamics, five participants will direct actors in short scenes under the guidance of Jennifer Ward-Lealand. There will be a strong emphasis on identifying craft to aid the rehearsal process and developing a language to confidently engage with actors.

Five directors will be selected to participate. In addition, DEGNZ will offer up to seven directors a place in the workshop as an active observer. Observers will also have the opportunity to learn practical knowledge and a vocabulary for working with actors.

Participating directors will be sent the script at least two weeks ahead of the workshop.

About Jennifer Ward-Lealand

Since training at Auckland’s influential Theatre Corporate, Jennifer has worked extensively in theatre, film, television, musical and radio for over 35 years. Jennifer is one of New Zealand’s most recognisable acting talents and a respected theatre director. She has taught for The Actors’ Program, Toi Whakaari and NASDA.

Jennifer is currently President of Equity New Zealand, Patron of Q Theatre, and serves as a trust board member of Arts Regional Trust and Actors Benevolent Fund. In the 2007 New Years Honours List, she was named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to theatre and the community.


When: Saturday 22 September, 9am – 5pm

Where: Q Theatre, Vault, 305 Queen Street, Auckland 1010

A travel allowance is available for selected Participants travelling from out of Auckland who are DEGNZ members.

Cost (lunch included):

DEGNZ members            Participant/Observer – Free
Non-members                 Participant – $100, Observer – $50

To Apply

Applicants must be comfortable with participating in front of their peers.

Successful Participant applicants will have experience directing narrative short films and have a narrative feature film in active development.

Application Deadline: 10AM, Monday 3 September

STEP 1: Submit the form below.

STEP 2: Upload your application files. You will be redirected after Step 1 to the File Upload page. Submit before the deadline:

  • your CV/filmography with links to samples of your work
  • the logline and short synopsis of your feature film in active development, and
  • a maximum one-page letter explaining why you would like to participate.

Late applications will not be accepted.




This initiative is brought to you with the generous support of the New Zealand Film Commission.