Born 'stateless' in UN territory (now Papua New Guinea) to an Australian volcanologist and a crocodile farm bookkeeper, Wendy Dent (World Economic Forum Young Global Leader 2013) was raised in tropical Rabaul on New Britain Island and then Canberra, Australia's capital. She started her career in the arts at age 12 when she was awarded a scholarship to a Canberra theatre school. At 18 she finished college with top academic marks, winning the Australian Capital Territory’s ‘Youth of the Year’ Best Public Speaker award and high commendation in the national Young Achiever Awards, while performing lead roles on stage and teaching at the drama school.
After graduating at the top of her year and being selected as Canberra’s “youth delegate to Parliament” for a national conference on democracy, Wendy’s teachers hoped she would run for office, with a goal to be Australia’s first female prime minister.
Instead Wendy ran away to Melbourne to be “a starving actor”, making the news by producing and performing a self-penned solo play about suicide and homelessness “on location” in a city alleyway. Her production was called “a sledgehammer monodrama, nothing short of inspired” and "one of the highlights of the year" by the Sun-Herald and quickly became a headline act of the 1994 Melbourne Fringe Festival. Within months Wendy made the headlines again, establishing children’s entertainment in Melbourne city parks and her own successful start-up business - as a professional fairy.
At 21, Wendy then put down her wings, picked up a camera and a film degree at the University of Technology Sydney, and started flying the world making independent films.
Her award winning documentaries have since screened in countries across five continents, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, and her subjects have covered socio-political issues across the globe.
Wendy has risked imprisonment filming undercover in Zimbabwe and missile attacks filming on the sidelines of Gaza. She upturned the underbelly of the gigolo trade in Bali, and the inspiring side of life in the favelas of Brazil. She introduced the world to the modern day ‘Juliets’ in Verona, later profiled in the Hollywood blockbuster Letters To Juliet. And she has interviewed some of the most prominent people of our time, from the masters of jazz in New Orleans, to master of auteur cinema Jorgen Leth, Hollywood star Richard Gere, and Hollywood movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation CEO.
With 15 years of experience and her work filmed and screened across 5 continents, Wendy has built up a diverse range of skills, credits for 30 films, and has four feature screenplays, three books and two more feature docs already on slate. Wendy has also written, directed, edited and produced all of her films, in several languages, and absolutely independently in every sense of the word; without pre-sales, funding or production crews.
Wendy Dent’s first short film premiered at a curated exhibition of experimental film at Sydney’s prestigious Art Gallery of New South of Wales in 1997, just the 2nd year of her film degree. Since her 1998 graduation she has been contracted as a production manager for a commercial feature documentary and as editor for 5 films for other producers.
Her focus however has been her own productions totaling 25 films to date including multinational corporate commissions, short dramatic comedy, experimental drama, and 5 feature length docs which have screened in official selection in 30 film festivals and events in Australia, US, Canada, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Romania, Czech Republic, Azerbaijan and Zimbabwe.
Wendy’s films have won 3 gold awards, including a special Jury award for ‘Film as Art’ at Houston International Film Festival, and a gold statuette for “Best Producer’ at The International Audiovizual Festival of Azerbaijan.
Her documentaries have been included in the curriculums of universities in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Wendy has been a guest lecturer and guest-speaker at several universities including Harvard, Stanford, Columbia University (NY), University of California Berkeley, USC, Villanova University (Philadelphia), Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Macquarie University (Sydney). She is now serving as a Visiting Scholar at the world's top ranked film school, the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, for the 2012- 2013 Academic year with grant assistance from the Dame Joan Sutherland Fund and the Ian Potter Cultural Trust for artists of exceptional talent.
Together with Woody Harrelson and Salma Hayek, Wendy was also a special guest presenter at the 2005 Palm Springs International Film Festival Gala, presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Lesley Nielson, on live TV.
Her reviews and interviews on film and theatre have been published in leading film industry magazines such as The Independent and Filmmaker Magazine, and her commissioned writing on 'opposition videography' and 'the blogosphere' can be found in the scholarly Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. Wendy is also founder and editor of two film news/networking e-zines Humanrightsonfilm.com and Greenerscreen.com. She was a juror for the 2012 Palm Beach International Film Festival, and has been invited to be a juror for other upcoming film Festivals, and to guest blog for Raindance Film Festival.
Her experiences making guerrilla films around the globe have also inspired Wendy to explore her interest in travel writing and travel photography. Aside from filmmaking Wendy has a well documented wanderlust for travel (having explored over 60 countries, mostly solo), which has also fuelled her love for languages (particularly Portuguese, Spanish and French), and a passion for dance (studying salsa, tango and flamenco). Back in Sydney, Wendy has also kept herself busy modelling several times for Schwarzkopf, and for art photographer Stephen Roach.
With her stage and screen achievements profiled in news stories in major publications such as The San Francisco Chronicle, The Canberra Times, The Age (Melbourne), L’Arena (Verona) and The Bulletin (Australian national), on NBC and TV news in several countries, and her documentaries enjoyed by audiences across 5 continents, Wendy Dent says she’s happy to see her work making a difference. “For 15 years I’ve had the world as my set. And oh what a shoot”.