A love of telling stories has inspired a diverse career for South Seas Film School tutor Sacha Handsaker.
The multi-talented creative has made her mark across all aspects of the film and television sector, from researcher, production manager and director to script writer, presenter and actor. Her ability to succeed in a broad range of roles is underpinned by her unwavering passion for people – her special gift for finding the magic in the daily lives of everyday folk.
“People are people are people. We all have a story to tell – we all have our challenges and our reasons to celebrate,” says Sacha, who has presented late night and breakfast shows for Juice TV, worked as a director of Sticky TV, and provided content for Kidzone, Tiki Tour and Suzy and Friends.
“I have discovered a passion for telling real people’s stories. Real life is just as interesting as fiction. One of my career highlights was working as a video journalist for Local Link, one of the first digital platforms to roll out in New Zealand. I researched, scripted, interviewed and shot five-minute items on events and people in the community. I loved this job – from the people I met who collected egg cups but didn’t actually like eggs, to my weekly segment with the community constable. I soon learnt that everyone has a story to tell.”
Sacha reckons her ability to tell a good yarn probably comes down to genetics.
“Both my parents were in the business. Growing up, that was actually more of a deterrent and I set my sights on becoming a zoologist or psychologist, but after an uninspiring time at university I enrolled at South Seas and quickly realised my love of storytelling.”
That was 25 years ago, and since then Sacha has found success on both sides of the Tasman.
“Working for Foxtel in Sydney in the early 2000s was wonderful. I went from researching to directing for the Lifestyle Channel, and our show ‘Home’ picked up several awards. My debut into lifestyle directing was with Pete Evans who was our chef on the show, and it was one of his first times in front of the camera. We made a good pair!”
Overseeing the implementation and content of a 24-hour closed-circuit TV station dedicated to the America’s Cup was another career coup.
“I haven’t had a job yet that I’ve not enjoyed or learnt something from. In this industry you’re working with people who share your passion, and every day there’s something new to learn.”
Now Sacha is sharing her expertise with industry newcomers, heading up the documentary directing and research department at South Seas Film & Television School.
“I love it. To be able to mentor people to find their own passion projects is a privilege. I love the diversity of the storytelling and the intimate environment that the students and I create which allows them to feel safe and take risks. Each student brings their own unique voice and style to their projects. To see how much the students grow over a year and the confidence they gain is inspiring.”
For those who have what it takes, the opportunities are vast.
“It’s an exciting time to be in this industry. There are so many more platforms to get your work onto.”
So, what does it take?
“Attitude is key. If you have the right attitude you can learn anything. Leave your ego at the door, be open to trying new things, be willing to work hard in the areas that might not excite you, be a team player, be organised and be reliable. And always remember you are only as good as your last job.
“Being a creative individual can be challenging but you need to trust yourself and be willing to be vulnerable – you will find your tribe.”