Rebecca Tansley was running an upmarket Dunedin restaurant when she entered a scriptwriting contest. Tansley won a spot, and Māori Television drama The Waiting Game (2008) was filmed in the restaurant. A year later she made her first short film, Eden. In 2015 she directed and produced feature film Crossing Rachmaninoff, a music documentary which featured at several international film festivals. In 2018 she turned her hand to dance with The Heart Dances - the Journey of The Piano: the Ballet. Tansley has also handled publicity for production company NHNZ, and wrote the tie-in book for NHNZ series Big Pacific.
There was a period of weeks when I was like, ‘What was I thinking, this is not going to be a film, I’m out of my depth, I’m going to have to tell these people who gave me money that I can’t do this.’ But then it all started falling into place. Rebecca Tansley on editing feature-length documentary Crossing Rachmaninoff, Metro, 19 July 2015
In 2015 celebrated Czech choreographer Jiří Bubeníček and his twin brother and designer Otto adapted award-winning film The Piano into a full-length ballet. With her second big screen documentary, Crossing Rachmaninoff director Rebecca Tansley followed the pair as they arrive in New Zealand, and begin expanding their original production for a 2018 season with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Bubeníček faces difficult artistic decisions as he and Māori Advisor Moss Te Ururangi Patterson try to find common ground while deepening the ballet's Māori elements and themes.
This documentary follows Auckland-based, Italian-born pianist Flavio Villani as he prepares to play Sergei Rachmaninoff’s demanding Piano Concerto No. 2 in Italy — his debut performance as a soloist with an orchestra. Director Rebecca Tansley, who funded much of the documentary herself, tails Villani from four months before the recital that will challenge the prodigal son to affirm his career choice and sexuality, in front of his Italian ex-military father. When it debuted at the 2015 Auckland Film Festival, Crossing Rachmaninoff won a standing ovation.