Student producer taking on the world

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Courtney Gilbert has just graduated. Now she’s building her empire.

As her fellow students head off to family, jobs and festivals for the summer, Courtney Gilbert’s summer endeavours include setting up her own animation company.

Her graduate project Kiwis Can Fly, produced as part of Massey’s Bachelor of Creative Media Production degree in Wellington, is a fun 3D animated series for children which follows Kori, a determined little kiwi who dreams of flying. Undeterred by his anatomical restrictions, Kori and his best friend Moemoe the takahē believe they can cure his flightlessness.

Courtney held a variety of roles throughout production including directing, producing, writing, production management, production design, pre-visualization and animation.

“I have always been artistic and it got me in trouble a lot as a kid when I decided drawing on the walls was the best way to express my creativity!  I have always loved telling stories, visuals always made sense to me as a form of learning, expression and creativity.   I came to Massey wanting to be what I call a "worker bee” motion capture animator, but during my studies I realised my passion lies in directing and producing. There aren’t many females in animation and VFX so I want to pave the way for women and inspire others to do the same”, Courtney says.

The Creative Media Production’s programme is designed to equip students in the practical, critical and commercial aspects of media production essential for entering into a sustainable career in NZ’s renowned screen industry.

Programme lead Lucas Haley says, “Courtney is a true example of the kind of creative and enterprising talent we are generating here at Massey, as evidenced by our grads who have found jobs at Weta Digital, Mechanic Animation, Flying Saucer Films, Pik Pok, Pukeko Pictures among others”.

Courtney and her team hope to bring Kiwis Can Fly to New Zealand kids in 2019,  creating more episodes and building a slate of original content for both New Zealand and international audiences, “and making plushies of Kori and Moemoe!”, she says.

Kate Simmonds, Manager of TVNZ and NZ On Air’s children’s platform HEIHEI says,

Our partnership with Massey University is about discovering Aotearoa’s next generation of storytellers and supporting them on their content creation journey. I was lucky enough to act as Courtney’s ‘real-world’ commissioner for this project - it was an inspiring experience. Producing a TV series is no mean feat, and I was blown away by Courtney’s dedication to her work, as well as the fresh perspectives and creative solutions she brought to the process. Courtney’s series Kiwis Can Fly is good enough to be considered for broadcast on TVNZ’s children’s on-demand platform HEIHEI.

Her recent win at the South Pacific Pictures Big Pitch competition will allow Courtney to travel to an international content market to engage with international intellectual property partners to develop and scale her projects. 

“The desire to tell stories comes naturally to me and the Massey CMP degree just really brought it all together for me”, says Courtney.