A local creative in Wellington, Casey was interviewed for Diverse Voices: Making Screen Work Different, a documentary about diversity, innovation and sustainability in Wellington’s film industry.

The Wellington UNESCO City of Film project is directed and produced by Pachali Brewster, with help from facilitators and Victoria University of Wellington’s Missy Molloy and Raqi Syed.

Material for the documentary has come from a hui featuring six local storytelling talents, including Casey, around the central question: “How can we make screen work different?”

The award-winning writer, director and producer started as a screenwriter. It allowed them to take part in storytelling while also existing in isolation.

They talk of their fatal food allergies and dietary restrictions, which they say have greatly impacted everything they do in life.

“COVID-19 was a really interesting experience for me because I basically live in Level 4 all the time.”

Casey is also autistic, which they say explains their hyper-focus and ability to produce a shootable screenplay in under four weeks.

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The proud Kiwi who spent most of their childhood overseas is an alum of the competitive United World College of South East Asia International Baccalaureate programme in Singapore.

They returned to New Zealand to study film and English at the University of Auckland University. After graduating Casey was recruited into the script department of Aotearoa’s longest-running TV show ‘Shortland Street’.

They spent three years learning the ins and outs of fast-turnover television development and production. A move to Wellington had Casey working up the independent film ladder.

After writing and associate-producing two New Zealand Film Commission-funded shorts ‘Blankets’ and ‘Dancers’, Casey co-wrote New Zealand’s first hip-hop dance film ‘Born to Dance’. It premiered at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival and went on to be the most successful New Zealand film of 2016.

Casey was the recipient of the 2018 Women in Film and Television Woman to Watch Award. In 2019 they won the Vero Beach Wine & Film Festival Visionary Award for their groundbreaking approach to developing, financing, producing, and distributing New Zealand’s first wine comedy ‘Hang Time’.

While writing will always be their first love, Casey now has their sights focused on local talent IP development and creative finance.

“A lot of my interests moving forward is about financing, and how to help diverse voices build financially viable, creatively satisfying careers.”

Find out more about Hang Time

Casey Zilbert and Pachali Brewster, participants in UNESCO Diverse Voices 2022.

Casey with Pachali Brewster, director of the Diverse Voices project.