Rachel O’Neill is a filmmaker, writer and artist based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa.
She seeks out fresh ways to see and understand life and art. She strives to represent the humour, candour and strangeness at the heart of human experience.
Born in Tokoroa in 1983, she moved to Puketaha in the Waikato with her parents when she was one. She lived in the area until she left home to go to university in Auckland. Since then she’s acquired an education of sorts and has become quite a lot queerer. She was the first person in her family to go to university and her mum has all her certificates, even the one she got for debating, though she was never on the debating team. She is grateful for her parents, siblings and her very insightful nephew. She tries to be a good friend while making films, doing art, writing and capitalising on her cheesy sense of humour.
Rachel is a graduate from Elam School of Fine Arts (2005) and the International Institute of Modern Letters (2008).
Rachel’s extensive track-record and experience as a writer, visual artist and collaborator fuels her film work.
Rachel began writing screenplays and treatments in 2013. She is writing feature films, short films and TV series’ across different genres. She is part of the EAT Writers group in Wellington, and is a member of the New Zealand Writers Guild and the Director’s and Editor’s Guild of New Zealand. In 2017 she took part in the Aotearoa Short Film Lab, New Zealand’s most prestigious short film lab, run by Script to Screen and Show Me Shorts.
Rachel is the director of numerous experimental short films and the comic web series ‘With Sympathy’. She is actively seeking mentorship and directing experience, including opportunities to work with actors on new projects.
Through the Directors and Editors Guild of New Zealand she has participated in Rehearsal Room events, and several directing workshops with filmmakers like Jason Stutter and Danny Mulheron. In 2014, she completed the six-week inaugural International Residency Programme in 2014 at RM gallery, Auckland where she worked on a selection of film-based projects.
Rachel is the creator of with sympathy, a YouTube-based series of web episodes that follow the trials and tribulations of an heiress to a greeting card empire. You can view the series on the project website It’s Rachel O’Neill Calling. You can view a selection of her experimental short films on her YouTube channel.
‘…The balance between the matter-of-fact tone, the surreal situation and the yearning for human contact is stunning … O’Neill’s tongue sings, her eye is objective, her heart compassionate.’ – NZ Listener
Rachel is a member of All the Cunning Stunts (AtCS) with fellow artists Liz Allan, Clare Noonan, and Marnie Slater. AtCS work in New Zealand and Europe. Their work is inspired by the contemporary politics of representation and the group actively focus on queer representation, identity politics and the dynamics of individual and collective public and private life.
POETRY AND FICTION
Rachel’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction have been widely published in New Zealand and Australia. Her writing appears in publications such as Cordite Poetry Review, Sport, Sweet Mammalian, min-a-rets, Best New Zealand Poems 2013, Hue and Cry issues 8, 7 & 6, Best New Zealand Poems 2011, and her story ‘The Orienteer’ was Highly Commended in inaugural The Long and the Short of It competition, run in 2011 by Unity Books/Sport. Selected writing appears in Turbine 2011, Takahe 72, JAAM 28, Hue and Cry 1 & 4, Paper Radio, Blackmail Press 25 and Turbine 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Much of Rachel’s art criticism can be found in the publication archives of Enjoy Public Art Gallery. Her critical art writing has addressed works by artists such as Raewyn Martyn, Erica van Zon, Glen Hayward, Tiong Ang, Eve Armstrong, Susie Pratt, Lee Kit, and Vivien Lynn. O’Neill writers reviews and author and artist features for The Physics Room, Booknotes, ArtZone, and Metro.
Rachel O’Neill was managing editor of the New Zealand Book Council’s online magazine Booknotes Unbound from 2013-2015.
She has been co-editor of art magazine Crease, 2003-2005, and co-editor of Canary Annual, 2007. She was co-editor with Thomasin Sleigh of the 2nd Enjoy Journal, Over Under and Around in December 2011.