My first job was:

As an AV librarian at Auckland University.

It taught me…

not to pirate stuff. The head AV librarian got rightly livid when I downloaded all this music and media on the library computer using their sweet, fast university servers. Apparently I downloaded hundreds of dollars worth of data. He didn't fire me and he didn't dock my pay. I've always been grateful for that!


My big break came… during film school when a senior editor called Zane Holmes came to our class and asked to see our student work. I was 23 and he gave me my first job as a night assistant editor on a great TV show called Being Eve 2. They say you make a film three times - first when you write it, second when you shoot it, third when you edit it. Editing is arguably the most important iteration of the film-making process because it's the final stage you get to work on it before you put it out there forever. I worked in editorial for more than 10 years after that, and it's been one of the best film educations I could ever have. My second big break came when Bill Gosden picked my documentary Banana in a Nutshell to show at the NZ International Film Festival, and John Barnett (producer of Whale Rider, Sione's Weddings) walked up to me at the end of a screening and said "terrific doco. Want to make it into a movie?".

The last job I quit was… a corporate editing job. And I couldn't actually quit. I had to smile and nod and finish it, and then I swore to myself I would never do corporate jobs again. So far I've kept my promise, but who knows what the future holds?

The most famous person I've ever met is… Tim Robbins (The Shawkshank Redemption). I was backstage at the Sundance Film Festival, and I literally bumped into him. He was really tall (to me), in a dark trenchcoat with a shock of white hair. I stared up at him and blurted out "what are you doing here?".

He was… super low-key. He replied "My son directed one of the films showing tonight" and I said "Oh congratulations!". Then we sorta did one of those awkward let me get past you kinda dances, and that was the last time I ever saw Tim Robbins. I did briefly hang with his son, the director, though, who was excited because their family friend Jack Black might be coming to the screening.

The best time I've had on set was… working with blood, scalpels and guns on film. Working with guns is a very serious thing. I love the moment right before the take, right when everything is set and ready to go, the armourer hands out little orange safety ear plugs. In that moment, I feel this buzz of excitement coming off everyone on set. It's magic. It's catnip for me. I've kept my little orange earplugs from the first time I worked with film guns. Oh and I can't not mention, when at the end of takes, I can't see because I'm crying. Sometimes I'm crying because I'm moved, sometimes I'm crying because I can't keep from laughing.

But the worst was… when I didn't just ruin the take with my laughing, I lost all co-ordination and dropped the monitor, which smashed on the ground. Which I quite rightly paid for (sorry Johnathan, again).

My dream role would be… to be a serial film director, making movies like Terminator 2, La Femme Nikita and Mad Max: Fury Road until I die.

• Roseanne Liang directs comedy series Friday Night Bites, which returns to TVNZ OnDemand tomorrow.