Annie Collins

Annie Collins

Annie Collins, filmmaker and editor. Portrait by Ron Burt.

Annie Collins studied at the Wellington School of Design,  and went into film editing under the guidance of filmmaker Pat Cox, where she grew over the past four decades into one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed film editors.

While documentaries may be her personal favourite, her extensive and varied editing experience includes classic New Zealand features that have incited much debate like Patu! and The Neglected Miracle; and iconic films Scarfies , Out of the Blue, and One Thousand Ropes. She’s edited on Lord of the Rings, Two Little Boys and The Great Maiden’s Blush; and for countless docos and short films, commercials, corporate training videos, trailers and promos, many of them picking up awards along the way. In the predominantly small budget New Zealand screen industry where roles often need to be flexible, she’s also handled music, FX and dialogue, ADR, and post-production supervision.

She was introduced to editing by filmmaker and producer Pat Cox (perhaps best known for Footrot Flats: a Dogs Tale). Pat taught at ‘the little mini film school’ at Wellington Polytechnic School of Design in the 1970s and founded New Zealand’s first independent post-production facility.

Pat taught Annie, whose first editing job was on the collaborative project Meanwhile, as part of her three year graphic design course. Pat subsequently enabled her to learn all the skills he had developed himself – camera, foley, editing – and her first job was as sound effects editor on Sleeping Dogs in 1977. This was followed by sound on Goodbye Pork Pie (1980), Melanie Read’s Hooks and Feelers (1983), and feminist thriller Trial Run (1984). Annie had found her passion, and describes editing as a kind of addiction, a constant search for the next moment of magic that she continues to seek today.

Annie is forthright about what she believes, and fully understands the power in her position at the editing bench, and the need for good ethics and integrity in this process. This includes having a clear kaupapa or purpose, and knowing who it is you’re talking to. She needs a good sense of these from the director before she can do her job.

Her sharp eye for nuance and nose for nonsense has been honed by years of observing footage in the editing suite, identifying dichotomies that add another layer or texture to the storytelling, or bring to light subtleties the director may have missed. Feeling the pace, and discerning the emotional journey of the viewer, is a critical and iterative process familiar to all designers – even those who think they are ‘shit at design’ (those are Annie’s words!).

Annie is perhaps best known for her documentaries, from Barry Barclay’s The Camera on the Shore to Sister Loyola’s biography Gardening with Soul. These projects all bring us a sense of Annie’s humanity and compassion, and this is often behind her choice of project, whether they are paid or not. Her work celebrates the ordinary, tells the stories of people who live by their principles and who quietly but surely help make our culture. All of them, in their own deeply personal way, are extraordinary.

Through the 80s Annie was privileged to work with the late Māori filmmaker Merata Mita, who remains one of her most respected filmmaking role models. They worked together on Mauri and in 1990 co-produced Mana Waka, using fifty year-old footage to chronicle the making of three special waka at Turangawaewae Marae.  But it was through the making of Patu!, which stitched together footage from the 1981 Springbok Tour, that Annie embarked on the journey to understand her own Pakeha culture, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and the kaupapa that lies between. In the documentary Double Take, Annie added directing to her CV, using a range of interviews with public figures to examine institutional racism. This won the Media Peace Award in 1987 and was used extensively in workplaces and government departments. She co-facilitated anti-racism workshops throughout the 1980s at a time when few Pakeha were willing to enter the debate, and she continues to be committed to the principles of Te Tiriti in her work today.

Annie has worked with many of New Zealand’s best female directors, amongst them Sima Urale, Zoe McIntosh, Jess Feast and Andrea Bosshard. She has won NZ Film and Television awards for her editing collaborations with director Robert Sarkies (Scarfies 1999), Out of the Blue (2008) and Two Little Boys (2012), and with Jess Feast for Gardening with Soul (2013).


In 2014 and 2019, she won Best Editor at the NZ Show Me Shorts Festival and was awarded the Women in Film & Television’s Great Southern Film & Television Award for Outstanding Contribution to the New Zealand Screen Industry in 2014.

Te Ara Toroa — Rere Ki Uta, Rere Ki Tai
The flight of the albatross — Venturing into the unknown
Design by Ngataiharuru Taepa, Kaihautu Toi Māori—Director of Māori Arts

Toi Rauwhārangi
College of Creative Arts
Wellington, Aotearoa