Making A Difference in Film

Every year, Inspiring Stories run a film competition where they shine a light on young filmmakers using their skills to make a difference in the world. It wrapped up last month in an awards night at the Bizdojo in Wellington, where some seriously amazing wee films were screened and the good humans behind them celebrated. Jo Bailey, the Ops Manager over at Inspiring Stories, shares a highlight reel with four of the top picks.


On the 11th March, finalists from as far as Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu and Christchurch gathered in Wellington for the annual event run by Inspiring Stories.

This year the Making a Difference competition attracted as diverse a range of entries as ever. Fitting with the name, all of them aimed to highlight young Kiwis in the community making a difference, but the themes themselves ranged all the way from mental health, environmental protection, inspiring youth with disabilities, LBGT empowerment, the Christchurch rebuild and youth lead social enterprise.

As well as a series of film craft and age group awards, prizes were awarded for Social Justice, Leadership, Creativity & Culture, Environment/Kaitiaki and Social Enterprise. As film making becomes more accessible, with less importance being placed on high-end equipment, it's amazing to see the number and quality of entries reach new levels each year.

A panel of young judges determined the winners, with these decisions recognising the most compelling stories as well as film quality itself.

The standout film that took away The Most Inspiring Story (overall prize) was awarded to ‘Bonnie Howland’ – a film created by a group of 6 Massey University students.

Bonnie Howland.

The film focuses on the story of a young entrepreneur in Wellington building a beauty company that apportions profit to the Fred Hollows Foundation to help cure treatable blindness in the South Pacific.

The team behind the film was awarded $2000 cash - courtesy of the New Zealand Screen Association and a 2-day internship at Images and Sounds - a post production studio based in Auckland.


Jayke Hopa - If I can do it…

This awesome wee film is an insight into the world of Jayke Hopa, a blind student from the Waikato who is navigating adversity as an emerging musician.

Created by students from Putaruru College, the film was awarded Best in Secondary Schools and the ‘Making a Difference Award’ - a prize in recognition of the inspiring subject of the film.



‘Georgia’ is an account of a young woman navigating anxiety and depression who has helped to develop and now manages a coffee shop in Wellington that acts as a vehicle for youth training and development.

On the night ‘Georgia’ walked away with three awards: The Social Justice Award, Social Enterprise Award and the Overall Runner Up.


Dog Island Motu Piu.

Last but not least, it took around 6 weeks for Sarah Ridsdale to complete the shooting of this incredible clay-mation. The film is about her Uncle who had a vision for an eco tourism restoration project on Dog Island Motu Piu, an Island off the coast of Bluff. Sarah’s Uncle Peter viewed the film before he sadly passed away in June from Motor Neuron Disease, the film is a tribute to him.

Sarah’s film was awarded the Environment/Kaitiaki Award, the Cinematography Award and the Editing Award.

We’re very much looking forward to receiving the next round of entries as each year we discover amazing new stories of young people making positive change in their communities!

~ Jo Bailey.


Inspiring Stories are out to empower every young person in New Zealand to live up to their potential to change the world, whether that be through film, their flagship Festival For The Future, intensive social enterprise incubator programmes, scholarships, mentoring or training future leaders.