Dr Virginia Pitts

Dr Virginia Pitts

I am an award-winning educator, filmmaker and scholar with an equal passion for all three areas.  

As a screenwriter and director, my work spans fiction, documentary, docu-drama and screendance for film, television and video. I have been commissioned by Channel 4, BBC2, the New Zealand Film Commission, James Wallace Productions, South Pacific Pictures and Television New Zealand.  

My short fiction films are varied in content style, and have been selected for dozens of international film festivals, including Berlin, Locarno, Chicago, Montreal, Valladolid and Edinburgh. Financed by highly competitive grants and investments, these films have also gained theatrical release, toured art galleries and sold widely to television (including Canal+, Showtime TV; NBC). I have also directed award-winning television drama and been commissioned to write short and feature length screenplays. 

My professional activities include running workshops and masterclasses on working with actors. I've been invited to deliver these in the UK, Finland, France and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Documentaries I've directed have mostly been filmed in tense and delicate environments, such as on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (for Channel 4 and BBC2), with psychiatric patients (for LSE), and with children suffering with acquired brain injury (with the London Brain Project).

Collaborative and interdisciplinary practices are at the heart of my research.  

My PhD investigated cross-cultural creative collaboration and transnational funding structures in a small nation film context. I have published on this topic, as well as on adaptation, political documentary film, and the low-budget digital feature film sector.

More recent practice-­based research investigated collaborative creative methods that harness the potential for movement, musicality and improvisation to enrich film content development. Working with choreographers, composers and actors, this interdisciplinary work has resulted in invitations to deliver masterclasses, workshops and conference papers in France, Finland, Aotearoa New Zealand, Germany, Australia and the UK. Outputs from this research include films, screen practice experiments and related peer ­reviewed journal articles.

I am currently developing a research project investigating therapy-supported autobiographical fiction in the field of screenwriting.


- 2016 Beyond My Brain (20 mins) Documentary video about a workshop for children with acquired brain injury art-making with research scientists, artists and clinicians. Made with the London Brain Project [Director, Co-camera operator, Editor].

- 2015 ‘Character, Performance, Dialogue and Structure: a Comparative Analysis of Improvised and Scripted Filmmaking’, a presentation of practice-based research delivered at the 8th Screenwriting Research Network conference, University of London.

- 2014 ‘Contestations of Intercultural Collaboration: the Case of Whale Rider’, Chapter 3, Impure Cinema: Intermedial and Intercultural Approaches to Film, Eds. Lucia Nagib & Anne Jerslev. New York/London: I.B. Taurus, pp.43-64. 978-1780765112.

- 2014 ‘Lost and Found: Musicality and Screenplay Development’, 7th Screenwriting Research Network Conference, Film University, Potsdam, October 17-19th

- 2013 ‘Writing from the Body: Kinesthetics and Entrainment in Collaborative Screenwriting’, Journal of Media Practice Vol 14, No.1 , pp.61-78. ISSN: 1468-2753. 

- 2013 ‘Beat: Artist’s Statement’, The Soundtrack Journal, Vol. 5, Issue 1.

- 2012 ‘Writing from the Body: Kinesthetic Empathy and Screenwriting’, 5th Screenwriting Research Network International Conference, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

- 2011 ‘Technologies of Culture: Digital Feature Filmmaking in New Zealand’ New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp. 3-17. ISSN 1474 2756.

- 2010 Beat (15 mins) Narrative dance film. Practice-based research project exploring the potential for dialogic interaction to resolve tensions between individual and collective impulses [Writer, Producer, Director].

- 2010 From Process to Product: Intercultural Collaboration in the Making of Whale Rider.  Impure Cinema Conference, University of Leeds, UK.

- 2008 Igniting the Peripheries: Digital Cinema in Aotearoa New Zealand. Screen Studies Conference, University of Glasgow, UK.

-2006 'Intercultural Short Filmmaking', Metro: Media and Education, Australia No. 148, pp.140-146. ISSN 0312 2654. Examines the intercultural processes adopted in the making of my film, Fleeting Beauty, and Zia Mandviwalla’s film, Eating Sausage.

- 2004 Fleeting Beauty (Director, 10 mins) An Indian woman rewrites the history of India’s colonization on the body of her New Zealand lover. Part of a practice-based research project with writer/producer/scholar, Shuchi Kothari.

- 2000 Trust Me (10 mins) Short narrative film about how power is negotiated when trust is asked for and given [Director, Co-writer].

- 1999 'Form and Politics in Punitive Damage', Australian Screen Education, Double Issue No 20/21, Summer, pp. 18-23. ISSN 1443 1629.

- 1997 ‘From novel to film : Le journal d'un curé de campagne and the art of adaptation’, The European Connection, No. 3, pp.31-39. ISSN 1173 5457.

- 1996 Illumina (8 mins) Butoh-inspired dance film performed by Lemi Ponifasio and the Mau Theatre Company [Director].

- 1991 Hassan (15 mins) Short fiction film about a family trapped under curfew on the West Bank [Director, Co-Writer, Producer, Editor].

- 1989 State of Danger (30 mins) Documentary about Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace in the Middle East, for BBC2's Open Space [Camera, Associate Producer]

- 1988 Palestinian Women Documentary piece about the role of women and children in the Palestinian intifada, for Women in View, Channel 4, England [Writer, Director, Camera, Voice-over]

Finalist (for film "Beat")

Cyprus International Film Festival

Finalist (for film "Beat")

13th VideoDanzaBA Festival

Faculty of Humanities Teaching Prize

University of Kent