Vanessa Alexander was born to Kiwi parents, but lived overseas until arriving in Oamaru for her final year of high school. She won her place in the screen industry after writing and directing offbeat buddy tale Magik and Rose. As Owen Hughes writes here, the film manages to coherently combine "drama, comedy, melodrama, buddy film and romance". Produced thanks to Larry Parr, Magik and Rose went on to screen at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival Forum for low-budget features, and win a jury prize at the Oporto Film Festival in Portugal.
For Alexander this tale of two women trying for pregnancy was partly about how people could be simultaneously very different yet have many simliarities. For the characters in the film, "there is something inherently human about desire that connects them."
Alexander's energy, plus her outrageous promotional work on the movie (which she talks about in this interview) won over South Pacific Pictures head John Barnett, who invited her to produce (and later write for and direct) Being Eve. Offbeat and colourful, the series was aimed at teenage girls. One of only two shows nominated in its category for a 2002 International Emmy, Being Eve won multiple awards, and sold to more than 40 territories, including the United States, where it aired on Nickelodeon offshoot Noggin.
Alexander was then entrusted with directing the first and second episodes of bogan breakout hit Outrageous Fortune. She has also directed on Mercy Peak, big-budget SPP/BBC co-production Maddigan's Quest and the Power Rangers franchise.
Alexander's writing or story credits include Kiwi drama series This is Not My Life, Burying Brian and political satire The Pretender. In 2012 she worked alongside Maxine Fleming in the creation of Robyn Malcolm series Agent Anna, which she also wrote and directed for.
As a producer, Alexander has worked on a number of award-winning short films including the Oscar-nominated Two Cars, One Night and Cargo (whose many festival invitations includes Venice, Melbourne and Tribeca).
In 2003 she spent time on the script development team at powerhouse English company Working Title, as the first international intern in their training program. The following year she was one of eight writers worldwide invited to join European screenwriting lab eQuinoxe, with her screenplay A Life in Romance. She has also done workshops with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Script Factory, and interned as a director with America's Steven Bochco Productions on the sets of Murder One and NYPD Blue.
The onetime playwright has taught writing workshops and consulted on several screenplays in development with the NZ Film Commission. Alexander has a BA in English Literature, and an MA in Film from Melbourne University's Victoria College of Art. She was postgraduate advisor of the Screen Production course at the University of Auckland.
She is a former Chair of Script-to-Screen, was a NZ Film Commssion board member, and has served on numerous industry funding and development panels.
Alexander's extensive awards list includes SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year, the Qantas Media Peace Award, the Prix Grande at the Danube Television Festival, and Best Comedy Script from the NZ Writers Guild.
Alexander currently lives and works in Australia.
'Vanessa Alexander' (Video Interview). NZ On Screen website. Director Clare O'Leary (Uploaded 1 May 2009). Accessed 9 November 2013
'Vanessa Alexander'(broken link). University of Auckland website. Accessed 11 March 2013
Magik and Rose website. Accessed 9 November 2013
'Being Eve's international accolades' - Onfilm, August 2002, Page 8 (Volume 19, Number 8)
Owen Hughes, 'Magik & Rose'. NZ On Screen website. Loaded 16 August 2008. Accessed 11 March 2013