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Student films nurses journey to funeral director

Media Release
16 July 2013

Student receives BBC grant to film nurses journey to funeral director

Meeting someone who tells you they want to become a funeral director would surprise most people.

But when former nurse Janet Mikkelsen told University of Auckland student Hilary Crombie she was leaving her nursing career to do just that she decided to make a documentary about it.

Hilary is a student in the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies specialising in Directing Drama. She had just become one of only five New Zealanders to receive a BBC Knowledge grant of AU$5000 under the New Zealand Young Producer Shorts 2013.

She decided that Janet’s story fitted the BBC brief to find someone a little out of the ordinary with an interesting story to tell.

“She’s very caring and extremely cheerful. I started out thinking ‘who would want to do that’? But now I understand why it would appeal to someone like Janet.”

The documentary follows Janet on her journey to set up a funeral home in Auckland. The former nurse was inspired to become a funeral director after caring for children with cancer and attending funerals that were either very beautiful or terrible, including one where the coffin had the wrong name printed on it.

Hilary says the experience of working with Janet has taught her about the important role funeral directors have in society.

The 21-year-old Remuera resident was thrilled to be awarded the grant. She intends to spend the money on post-production expenses for the documentary.

“It was awesome. I totally didn’t expect to get it.”

This is the third year BBC Knowledge and the Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA) have issued the New Zealand Young Producer Shorts grants.

Young producers under the age of 30 were invited to submit concepts for short-form documentaries profiling distinctive Kiwi characters.

Judges were looking for something a little out of the ordinary, from all corners of the country and most importantly ideas about someone with an interesting story to tell.

Hilary’s short-form documentary – along with the other four grant recipients – will premiere on BBC Knowledge in early 2014.

Hilary is enrolled in her second semester of a BA Hons in Screen Production and will be completing the documentary while enrolled in Professor Annie Goldson's Advanced Documentary Directing paper. The skills she developed while in her first semester helped her conceptualize her ideas and hone her proposal to the BBC.  She joins other Screen students, Walter Lawrey, Peter Simpson and Beyond Wen who have recently had successes with their student films.


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