Dustin Feneley - Writer / Director / Producer
Born in Sydney in 1982, Dustin Feneley is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts Film School. His short films as writer and director (Night, Snow, Hawker, Eskimo Kiss) have won numerous awards and screened at over one hundred film festivals, including official selections at Cannes, London, Sydney and Melbourne.
In 2006, his short film Snow premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Cinéfondation selection. Snow was further honoured that year by exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. In 2007, Dustin was the recipient of the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award for Moving Image, the leading awards in Australasia for emerging creative talent. In 2011, he was awarded the Filmmaker Grand Prix at the Sapporo International Short Film Festival in Japan for his body of work in short films.
Dustin’s debut feature project Stray was selected for the Directors Lab of the Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam in 2012 and for CineMart at Rotterdam in 2013. Set in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, Stray had its World Premiere in Main Competition at the 2018 Moscow International Film Festival, where it won the Silver Saint George Award for Best Actor. Stray continues to screen and win awards at international film festivals. Stray was theatrically released in New Zealand in 2018 in over 40 cinemas, garnering strong box office, widespread critical acclaim and heralded as the best New Zealand film of the year.
In 2019, Dustin was awarded Best Direction in a Feature Film (Budget under 1M) at the Australian Directors Guild Awards, and Best New Director at the Brooklyn Film Festival.
Dustin is an alumni of Melbourne International Film Festival's Accelerator programme and Script to Screen's FilmUp programme. He has been a selector and mentor for Script to Screen's Short Film Lab and has taught undergraduate courses in filmmaking. Dustin is a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand, currently based in Melbourne.
Desray Armstrong - Producer
Awarded Woman to Watch at the 2016 Women in Film & Television Awards, Desray Armstrong is an independent producer with a diverse slate of credits and a wealth of physical production experience. Feature film credits include Mulan, Mortal Engines, A Wrinkle in Time, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Rehearsal, The Light Between Oceans, Z for Zachariah, Slow West and What We Do in the Shadows.
Desray has produced documentaries, factual series, music videos, web series and award-winning short films including Meathead by Sam Holst (Cannes Film Festival 2011, Berlin Film Festival 2012 Crystal Bear Winner), Ellen is Leaving by Michelle Savill (SXSW Film Festival 2013 Best Narrative Short Winner), Snowmen by Jonathan Brough and Ways to See by Jessica Sanderson.
Recently awarded the 2018 SPADA Independent Producer of the Year, Desray has served on the boards of industry guilds Nga Aho Whakaari (Maori in Film & Television) and Women in Film & Television and is passionate about creating pathways for more women and Maori to step into key creative roles within the feature film landscape. Dustin Feneley’s debut feature Stray is her first feature film as producer.
Ari Wegner - Cinematographer
Ari Wegner is one of the finest emerging cinematographers from Australia. Her work, spanning from long-form drama to short films and documentaries, has screened at numerous international festivals including Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Sundance and Toronto. Her debut feature as cinematographer, Grey Matter, directed by Kivu Ruhorahoza, premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. Grey Matter was the first feature film shot in Rwanda directed by a Rwandan filmmaker. Ari's second feature, Ruin, directed by Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Michael Cody, premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival where it won the Orizzonti Special Jury Prize.
2014 marked her first foray into the world of television, shooting Porchlight Film's The Kettering Incident. The eight hour miniseries was directed by Rowan Woods and Tony Krawitz.
More recently, Ari shot UK feature film Lady Macbeth, directed by William Oldroyd, which won numerous awards worldwide throughout 2016 and 2017. Ari was awarded Best Cinematography at the British Independent Film Awards for her work on the film. In 2017, Ari shot the second season of US television series The Girlfriend Experience for director Lodge Kerrigan, as well as Peter Strickland's new film In Fabric. She recently shot Justin Kurzel’s The True History of the Kelly Gang and Janicza Bravo’s Zola, currently in postproduction.
Ari was awarded the Grand Prix for Best Cinematographer at the 2018 Golden Eye Festival in Georgia for work on Stray. Stray is the third collaboration between Ari and director Dustin Feneley, having previously worked together on short films Hawker and Eskimo Kiss.
Sophie Durham - Production Designer
Sophie Durham graduated from Curtin University’s film school in 2010 and has since worked professionally in the film industry, amassing credits in various roles within the art department. Predominantly working as a property master, she is credited on numerous Australian feature films such as Son of a Gun directed by Julius Avery, Jasper Jones directed by Rachel Perkins and Red Dog: True Blue directed by Kriv Stenders. Her other credits include Dirt Music, The Dressmaker, Holding the Man, Bad Girl, Drift, An Accidental Soldier, Ronny Chieng: International Student, and multiple docudramas for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
In addition to her work on feature films, Sophie has designed short films including Blue by Keir Wilkins and Inner Quality by Ethan Marrell as well as art directing Mad Kid’s web series Henry & Aaron’s 7 Steps to Superstardom. Sophie has recently embarked on her first directorial endeavour since film school, a music video for Melbourne band Kayo. Dustin Feneley’s debut feature Stray is her first feature as production designer.
Dione Chard - Editor
Dione Chard has a breadth of editing experience across multiple genres and forms. She has cut international drama and documentary series for Netflix and Amazon (Some Assembly Required and All or Nothing: A Season with the All Blacks), and worked on many award-winning New Zealand projects such as the telemovie Jean, New Zealand Film Commission funded feature Vermilion, and comedy series Super City directed by Taika Waititi.
Dione graduated from the Master of Arts Film Production programme at the University of Auckland with First Class Honours. Her debut short film Driven screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival, and her first documentary feature as editor Monterey screened at the Oscar-qualifying DocEdge - Australasia’s premiere international documentary film festival. Stray is the first feature drama that Dione has edited.
Sez Niederer - Associate Producer
Born in Auckland, Sez Niederer trained as an actor at the prestigious Drama Centre London. Sez’s background is primarily as an actor and an Assistant Director in the film industry. Sez is the lead actress in the successful independent New Zealand feature film This Giant Papier Mache Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy, which has screened at numerous international film festivals, including Boston Sci-Fi and Sci-Fi London, and garnered several awards, including Best Comedy, Best Independent Film and Best Sci-Fi. Sez also acts in New Zealand television, theatre and voice over. Sez’s feature film credits as First Assistant Director include the New Zealand Film Commission funded feature film Vermilion and independent feature Older. She has also First Assistant Directed numerous short films and TV commercials. Sez is passionate about New Zealand music and has First Assistant Directed countless music videos for artists such as Broods, Marlon Williams, Doprah, Estere, Tami Nielson and Randa. Stray is Sez’s first feature film as a producer, working as Associate Producer on the film since advanced development.
Alix Whittaker - Associate Producer
Alix Whittaker is one of New Zealand’s most prolific music video producers; her favourite clip to date is Glare for Sheep, Dog & Wolf (directed by THUNDERLIPS) which earned a Vimeo Staff Pick, Best Music Video 2014 at Show Me Shorts Film Festival, Best Abstract Video at Vision Feast 2015, and a nomination for Best Alternative Video at the UK Music Video Awards.
Outside of her work in music videos, Alix has produced a handful of short films which have played at festivals such as AFI Fest, Montreal Film Festival, Dallas Film Festival, New Zealand International Film Festival and Show Me Shorts. She was Production Manager on David Blyth’s feature film Ghost Bride, Co-Producer on Tim van Dammen’s sophomore feature Mega Time Squad, Producer Intern on Taika Waititi’s Hunt For The Wilderpeople, and Associate Producer on Dustin Feneley's debut feature Stray.
Alix was one of 12 emerging film producers picked by the New Zealand Film Commission for the inaugural ‘A-Z Producing Course’ presented by AFTRS in 2017. Alix is currently developing three feature films with Candlelit Pictures and the NZ Film Commission, managing a house full of 20-odd filmmakers at the bottom of Maungakiekie in Auckland, and caring for a 1 year old baby - Willow, aka “Muffin”. Alix’s mission is to affect an audience, give them an emotional reaction, and provoke thought and discussion.