Lala Rolls

Director and Editor in Film and TV

Island Productions (Aotearoa) Ltd


I am a Fiji born European. I migrated from Fiji to New Zealand in December 1981 at the age of seventeen to complete my last year of school at Columba College, Dunedin 1982.

I began a Psychology degree at the University of Otago 1983, where I learnt more about social life in New Zealand than about Psychology. I took time off to work and grow up and finished my B.A in Psychology (and Education) at Victoria University, Wellington 1989. It was at Victoria University that I discovered Film.

After leaving University I worked in early childhood education, traveled and took a script writing course at The Royal Collage of Arts, London University.

I returned to New Zealand in 1992 and got my first funded short film off the ground, Olives (1994). Through Olives I met Jamie Selkirk (producer/editor Lord of the Rings trilogy) and applied for work as a trainee assistant editor on his next film, Jack Brown Genius. From there I began a wide and varied career as an editor, director and producer.

In my early career

  •  I directed short television stories for various magazine style TV shows, including the arts show Backchat and children’s news show Wired. I also made a quirky self-funded series of 6 very short films, Tall Stories (1997). These feature as part of a collection of shorts Rads, and have been popping up in many countries worldwide ever since.
  • Between 1998 and 2001 I directed eight music videos for New Caledonian Music Producers, Man¬grove Productions. These were for Pacific Island bands on location in New Caledonia, Fiji, and Rapa Nui/Easter Island. These music videos were an absolute joy to make.
  •  I produced, directed and/or edited a number community service and corporate videos. These have been a privileged insight for me into life in small communities and in Màori communities in New Zealand and have given me a closer understanding of this country than all of the television shows that I have worked on put together. This was of course before Màori Television Services came to life and started telling so many real indigenous New Zealand stories on air.
  • I edited a number of comedy shows for Gibson Group and episodes of their drama, The Strip.

In the more recent years

  •  I have edited a number of TV dramas including Insiders Guide to Happiness, Insiders Guide to Love and The Hothouse (all for which I have been a best-editor award finalist in the NZ screen industry awards). And a number of documentaries including Flight of the Concord’s, A Texan Odessy, Black on Red, (about the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2007 tour of China) and Gaylene Preston’s documentary Lovely Rita, (on the life of artist Rita Angus). (again all for which I have been a best-editor award finalist in the NZ screen industry awards)
  • I directed in the award winning short film Fish Out of Water (2005), which was selected to travel worldwide with the WIFT (Women in Film and Television) International Showcase. 
  • I produced, directed and edited a short docu¬mentary for the Arts Festival event Tuwhare, about Màori poet Hone Tuwhare (2005).
  • I co-designed, directed and co-edited a children’s science series QTV (2005) that was nominated for best children’s programme at the screen awards 2006 and has been taken up by the Ministry of Education for their web-based-learning curriculum.
  • In 2004 I directed and co-edited the acclaimed feature documentary Children of the Migration. Commissioned by TVNZ and funded by NZOA. Produced by Michelle Turner with Chris Ellis and developed by myself with David Sa’ena, Vela Manusaute and Maurice Newport. Children of the Migration won a Special Mention at DocNZ 2005, and screened at film festivals here, in Tahiti and in Melbourne. It received rave reviews from the community it served and from audiences in general.
  • In 2007 I co-produced with David Sa’ena, directed and edited our second feature documentary Land of My Ancestors, commissioned by MTS and funded by TMP. The film has screened at the London Independent Film Festival, at the NZ International Film Festival, at the Fanua/Whenua Polynesian Arts Festival and has been selected as one of 3 films by Maori Television to screen internationally through the World Indigenous Broadcasters television Network.

For both these documentaries even more gratifying than the film festival attention, as far as serving the New Zealand audience goes, have been the emails of appreciation and requests from schools, government departments and individuals for copies of these documentaries after seeing them either at screenings or on one of their repeated television screenings.

  • In 2008 I made a produced, directed and edited documentary on the National Weavers Hui for Toi Maori, Whiri Toi, creation of our minds and hands in art, and a documentary for Vietnam Veterans, Tribute08, for Tribute Productions.
  • In 2009 I have edited on Kaitanga Twitch a drama for Maori Television, producer Chris Hampson, director Yvonne Mackay and edited the film festival documentary The Man in the Hat for BWX Productions, producer Jan Bieringa, director Luit Bieringa.

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