Rachel O’Neill is a filmmaker, writer and artist based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa.
She strives to represent the longing for human connection, humour, 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 family and tries to be a good friend while making films, doing art, writing and capitalising on her cheesy sense of humour.
MA in Creative Writing, International Institute of Modern Letters/Victoria University of Wellington (2008)
BA/BFA Conjoint Degree, Elam School of Fine Arts/University of Auckland (2005)
Rachel was the recipient of a 2018 SEED Grant (NZWG/NZFC) to develop her feature film UNDERGROUND FIRES. She attended the 2017 Aotearoa Short Film Lab (Script to Screen/Show Me Shorts) where she had development on two shorts. She is working on a selection of feature and short film projects and episodic series across different genres. She is part of the EAT Writers group in Wellington, and is a member of the New Zealand Writers Guild, the Director’s and Editor’s Guild of New Zealand and WIFT.
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 webseries with sympathy, an absurdist set of improvisations that follow the trials and tribulations of an heiress to a greeting card empire in the digital age. You can view the series on the project website It’s Rachel O’Neill Calling. You can view a selection of her experimental art 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 engages with queer representation and identity practices.
POETRY / FICTION / NONFICTION
Rachel’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction have been widely published in New Zealand. Her critical art writing has addressed works by artists such as Mata Aho Collective, Nathan Pohio, Raewyn Martyn, Erica van Zon, Glen Hayward, Tiong Ang, Eve Armstrong, Susie Pratt, Lee Kit, and Vivien Lynn. O’Neill has written reviews and features for Radio New Zealand, Art New Zealand, The Pantograph Punch, Kava Club, The Sapling, ArtZone, and Metro.