Mentor: Michelle Kan

Meet Michelle, founder of Fish & Swallow Productions. With a Bachelor’s degree in Film, Cinema and Video Studies, Michelle Kan has been working with Creative HQ to produce videos for accelerators like Lightning Lab and Mahuki as well as startups and events (like the K Culture Festival). We chatted with Michelle, to find out more about her and why she got involved.


Hey Michelle, could you tell us a bit about your background?

I’m an independent freelance filmmaker/videographer and writer based in the capital. I primarily run Fish & Swallow Productions, an online content production studio dedicated to the documenting of local arts/cultural events and the spotlighting of artists, creatives and other extraordinary individuals around NZ.

I love exploring my cultural heritage and personal passions through my creative output via a variety of different media. In 2016 I released a feature-length documentary on parkour in NZ, and have another short documentary on Cantonese Opera on the way – and I also write screenplays and publish books on the side.

What made you want to be involved in Venture Up?

I’ve been involved with various Creative HQ programmes over the years and never fail to be inspired by the drive and progression of the teams who participate.

Venture Up being a programme for youth entrepreneurs takes this up to 11 – being able to watch the cohort learn and grow so quickly over a short amount of time is awe-inspiring, and being able to be even a small part of that process is in itself an opportunity not to be turned down.

What do you feel you get back from mentoring?

A lot of pride!

Pride for how driven the cohort are…
Pride for the way they navigate the issues that they face
And, above all, pride for how much they level up over the course of the programme.

Venture Up is intense and fast-paced, and the progression that the cohort undergo and the friends and the knowledge they come out with at the end is great to see.

What are the top 3 things you look for in a team or venture before you commit to mentoring?

  1. Passion
    I find a team that is driven is always a joy to work with. Passion for the solution means motivation to make their business the best that it can be in the given space of time. Not only that but…
  2. Compassion
    A team who want to provide a service for social good is a team driven by empathy for others. As someone interested in intersectional activism, seeing youth driven to commit their time and efforts to help uplift marginalised folk especially is a team I want to know more about. That being said…
  3. Willingness to listen
    Achieving intersectionality takes work, and being willing to listen to others and take in their feedback is a valuable trait. A team who actively seeks out these voices and uses their input to improve the accessibility of their service is a definite draw for me.