21 Aug 2023

Christchurch resident Hannah Herchenbach knew she wanted to be involved in film, but wasn’t sure how to get into the industry.

After being selected as one of the twenty participants in the 2022 Incubator Programme, Ms Herchenbach’s career began to fall into place.

“I was surprised that I got picked to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect at all,” says Ms Herchenbach.

“I thought at the very least it would be good experience to throw my hat in the ring and see what happened. What I discovered was that the programme was open to all people who had ideas and it didn’t matter about experience. So, I got in.”

The 2022 programme spanned three disciplines: Music, Writing for Film and Performance.

Through the programme, Ms Herchenbach was paired with film industry professional Irene Gardiner, who used her wealth of experience across television and production to mentor the aspiring screenplay writer.

Ms Herchenbach says that thanks to the programme, her work was put to the attention to the head of The Screen Producer and Director Association – which Ms Gardiner became president of. “It was a serendipitous pairing – because we had a bond through music.

“She helped me in so many ways from learning to focus on one project, to writing proposals, to learning about getting approval from media outlets. This was a foreign world to me.”

Ms Herchenbach has since gone on to be involved in film, including becoming Collab Community Leader at Sundance.

Her advice to anyone contemplating applying for this year’s intake is to go for it.

“You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain,” says Ms Berchenbach.

“It’s an opportunity to make something happen. It’s not just the mentorships that are valuable, the horizontal networking is amazing – you have a cohort of people who generate their own momentum – and that is key to being a creative.”

This year’s Toi Ōtautahi Incubators include Street Art, Performance and Film and Music. Applications for the programme are open until Sunday 27 August.

Image: Hannah Herchenbach in 'Spring Interlude.'