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News > Alumni Spotlight > Here If You Need

Here If You Need

Alumni Jacob Masters and Lachie Oliver-Kerby talk about their YouTube web series which premieres internationally on 8th June 2022.
7 Jun 2022
New Zealand
Alumni Spotlight
Jacob Masters, fourth from left
Jacob Masters, fourth from left

Jacob Masters (West Island School, Class of 2014) and Lachie Oliver-Kerby (Island School, Class of 2015) met in New Zealand and soon realised that they had both grown up in Hong Kong and been at ESF schools. With a shared passion for acting and producing, they started their production company, Third Culture Productions. Their first funded show, a web series called Here If You Need premieres on the 8th of June 2022.

Here If You Need is an impactful story; it portrays grief and loss in a fresh and honest way and supports efforts to normalise conversations around mental health.

Synopsis: In an attempt to manage her grief after the death of her brother, Kate invites those who knew him best to join her social netball team; secretly hoping to uncover more about the circumstances surrounding his untimely passing. The inappropriately-named team, ‘Jim’s Reapers,’ is composed of Kate, Marc, Maia, Will, Ella and an unlikely sixth player - a substitute from the team’s soon-to-be arch nemesis, the Dragonites.

Kate’s plan quickly comes unstuck, as she finds herself struggling to manage the troubled group of “friends.” From relationship issues to temperamental discipline and an overbearing Manager, their hopelessness at netball turns out to be the least of their problems. Only when unified by the threat of receiving the wooden spoon are they able to set aside their differences and find common ground. The series comprises six, 10-12 minute, episodes.


Finding Inspiration

Jacob: Here If You Need was initially conceived during acting school where we wanted to create a story centred on a community that bands together after something tragic happens. I remember being at university in Wellington and loved the idea of social netball being the heart of a series. A great game for mixed teams, there is a sense of real comedy that comes through social netball. But as with any 'social' sport, the lines between social and serious can get quite blurred, and often there seems to be more behind the scenes than just the social game that exists on the surface. You never know what people might be going through.

Characters and Challenges

Jacob: I play Will. He's a brooding young 20's male who is quite introverted with his emotions. He's extremely rational in his thoughts, and tries to understand his emotions by logically breaking them down. He's certainly convinced that this is the 'appropriate' way of dealing with them. What, perhaps he doesn't realise is that by bottling up his emotions, and claiming to have 'dealt' with the tragic situation that's happened, he's affecting everyone around him in a negative way. I think the biggest difference between me and the character is that I'm more aware of when my negative attitude is affecting other people. I try to process emotion as best as I can so I can interact with people in a healthier way. Will, on the other hand, really doesn't realise he's being mean at times! He's got a no bullshit attitude, but sometimes it slips into something much more hurtful than 'truthful'. I think deep down he does care a lot about his friends around him that are struggling too, he's just not really sure how to help them. 

Lachie: I played the role of 'Producer'! I cheekily put myself on-screen in a few scenes throughout the series, but being behind the camera and producing the show was my main job, along with composing the original score. It was a massive learning process and I enjoyed every second of it! 

An ESF Education

Jacob: Kerry Rochester at West Island School was my theatre teacher from Year 10 to Year 13. She was a brilliant and tough teacher, and always pushed us very far. At the time I just loved performing, I thought it was fun being silly, but she taught me a lot not only about the craft of theatre but how theatre/performing can be a really powerful medium for change. I still feel like I'm learning from her years later.

I loved school productions. Led by Ms Roch, they were always incredibly intricate physical theatre. I remember a chair sequence I did with Hazel. It was such a nuanced conversation that we had with each other without even speaking, just by expressing how we feel with each other through body language. I remember every time I performed that sequence it felt fresh and different. I'd love to recreate it in a new setting somehow.

Lachie: Funnily enough, I was more into my rugby at Island School! I loved drama with Mr. Gilbert Halcrow, who was an absolute character and always encouraged me to have a go and just have fun, but really, I wanted to be an All Black until I was about 16! Thankfully, I've seen the light and I'm loving my life in the arts. 

Jacob: Perhaps a better point is that Lachie and I never knew each other in Hong Kong, but as avid rugby players during our time there, we're convinced we would have played against each other at some stage! We both represented Hong Kong in rugby at youth levels, just at different times. He's a much better player than me though!

Moving Forward

Jacob and Lachie are the owners of production company, Third Culture Productions - inspired by their time growing up in Hong Kong as third culture kids. They love making comedy, but often with a bit of a kick in the guts. They share similar outlooks on life and have absolutely no shortage of ideas and scripts - ones focusing on NZ, some more international.

ESF wishes these young stars the best in their journey ahead!

Jacob Masters (@mastersjacob) is a film and tv producer, director, actor and writer. He studied at Victoria University of Wellington and has a diploma from one of New Zealand's leading acting schools - The Actor's Program in Auckland. He has worked on the acclaimed series ‘Head High’ (seasons 1 and 2) as Scotty Crockford and has also featured on ‘The Wilds’. 

Lachie Oliver-Kerby is a producer, writer, musician and actor. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Music from the University of Otago in Dunedin. He has worked in radio as a producer, announcer and copywriter before ‘Here If You Need’.

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