Gwen Isaac grew up in Kororāreka Russell in the Te Tai Tokerau Far North region of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Her remote childhood and her single mom upbringing, contribute to the characters and stories she is drawn to. Gwen spent a decade creating television formats and directing factual and documentary series for broadcasters in the UK and USA. Highlights include Summer at Yorkminster for BBC Scotland, Heroes Unmasked for NBC USA, The Real Washington for BBC World News and Old Dogs, New Tricks for ITV London as part of the prestigious Metroland series. Where There is Life (2017) her debut feature documentary was selected for the 2017 New Zealand International Film Festival. It was described as “startling in its candour” and she was awarded Best First Time Director at the London Independent Film Awards. In 2021 Gwen released short documentaries Tokyo Woman (selected for four international festivals) and Siouxsie & the Virus which was awarded best film in the Long Story Shorts Competition. Gwen leads the Bachelor of Screen Arts (Hons) factual major at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts, Toi Rauwhārangi. Currently, Gwen is developing two projects; feature ‘Mad Merry’, a documentary investigating a childhood mystery set in 1980’s Te Tai Tokerau and a docu-series about the brassiere.
“My way of making documentaries is led by instinct and my curiousities. My approach is informed by the observational documentary greats such as Longinotto, Wiseman and [Pietra] Brettkelly, a NZ filmmaker who is uncompromising about achieving absolute truth in her films.”
A study done in America about five years ago revealed that in a mixed-gender group, when women talk 25 percent of the time or less, it’s seen as being “equally balanced” and if women talk 25 to 50 percent of the time, they’re seen as “dominating the conversation.” This study reveals the problem with how many consider female centred stories. It’s why we have to colonise the screen with women’s voices.