Students at Kāpiti College have had a first-hand insight into the film and television industry.
Film director Cody Mathieson Packer visited the college on Thursday and had a chat to students.
Packer, 29, was a former student at the college who now works overseas and is working on his first feature length film.
His interest in filmmaking started when he was about 13, making short cricket-based videos in the family backyard with a mate.
"It was pretty ridiculous but hilarious. I was a mad cricket fan too."
At college he joined the film club and got a lot of inspiration.
"We wrote movies after school as a group with teachers and students.
"We'd cast people from the drama class and make one hour movies that objectively weren't probably that great but it was awesome doing it.
"It was a time when you could try everything. It was really wicked and we had a lot of fun.
"It really got me involved into making magic — movies are a form of magic.
"I realised it was something I wanted to do."
After college he went to the New Zealand Broadcasting School in Christchurch and made music videos, short films, television, documentaries and more.
"I tried a lot of things and made mistakes which is the most important thing people can do."
One of his film projects was to go to Gloriavale, a small Christian community on the West Coast, where he stayed for three nights.
"It was a pretty crazy experience."
After the Christchurch earthquakes he moved to Auckland and got involved in a few television shows.
People told him he had to go overseas as he'd have to wait a long time to direct anything locally as he was too young and hadn't earned his stripes.
He persevered for a few years though until he understood what people were telling him.
"I think there's a real age problem in New Zealand. I get that but I think it's counter-productive to pushing talent through."
His mother suggested going to Chicago when his short documentary Gloriavale was selected into a film festival there.
"So we went over there and met a Kiwi guy who worked in a film school [in Columbia College].
"He asked me to have a look at the school.
"We toured the film school and it was unreal with these massive studios and people working on film cameras.
"It was like 'wow I can go to school and do this'."
Packer applied and got into the film school and moved to Chicago when he was 22.
"It was pretty wild moving to a huge city. But I got to make about eight short films, wrote a couple of feature length scripts, and entered a bunch of competitions.
"I also got to experiment and make mistakes, which is the best, and met awesome people."
After studying at the film school, he worked at an ad agency making commercials.
"We had a lot of fun. It was more of a learning experience again.
"It wasn't the best job in the world but it was pretty awesome and it taught me to tell really small stories really good."
In the last year Cody has branched out on his own and become a freelance director using Los Angeles as his base.
"I still do commercials but I've been developing a feature film for the last four and a half years."
The film, to be shot in the United States, will be called So I Watch You From Afar.
"I wrote it and I'll direct it as well. It's like a psychological drama about a family being spied on by a video drone.
"Hopefully I can start that towards the end of the year and it will get released into theatres, or streaming, maybe a year or two after that, depending on what the world does.
"We're tying up loose ends and getting the last bit of money for it."
Throughout his life Packer has had a stutter, which he hasn't let get in his way.
He was proud of his short information clip called First Day, about what it's like to live with a stutter, for National Stutter Awareness Day.
"I was a passion project and not something I got paid to do."
Packer said being involved in the film industry was "an ongoing journey and I'm always learning stuff".
He encouraged students to give things a go, embrace mistakes, and have fun.
"Most of us started in the backyard or at school. You can make it go wherever you want."