Since: Mar 2011
The reality is the people who are into film production all year round generally are:
A) Studying film/trying to get into the industry, thus you need to approach students at a course
B) Working hard to get into the industry, thus likely in Auckland or Wellington
C) Working in the Industry, thus likely to be in Auckland or Wellington.
The reality is that it's hard to make films, short or features. I am in post on my first feature film as producer, it was an amazing opportunity I was given by the director who has more experience and was bringing on most of the financing - and it's come after working on a number of shorts, music videos, tvcs and television programs in various capacities for about 10 years.
But at the beginning, I was just where you are, making films for competitions and looking for projects to work on the rest of the time around my job. It took finding a like minded passionate individual who was desperate to just get stuff made to really propel me forward outside of competitions, while also searching for great material to plop down on my first decent project.
If you are a great writer which you say - don't worry about making shorts in Christchurch, write shorts and get them to producers in Auckland and Wellington - as there are larger production bases in those cities and it's more likely for those projects to be made.
Network, find student film makers to work with, don't rely on just friends but look much further a field. Making a film is like putting together a circus - the people involved generally are very individual and their personal lives often don't cross over that much outside of making a film, but WHILE working together they become family. Expecting people who aren't crazy to help you make a film... It just doesn't work. You need to go out and find people who are just as crazy about film as you 24 hours a day, and they are often hard to find, especially when you are not in a base with lots of production.
Finding that family can take a few projects, it can take working on other peoples projects as well as the ones you initiate, it requires being passionate, egotistical, humble, and fool hardy because film making is such a risky endeavor which takes so long to pay off that the people have to be ok with working damn hard and not seeing anything come from it for months or years (the average gestation for a non 48 Hours short of any consequence is likely to be much closer to a year or two than 48 Hours).
48 Hours attracts a large audience because it cuts through that intangible commitment and has a huge amount of camaraderie, but it's a form of temporary insanity that doesn't often extend beyond those two days.
You need to find more permanently insane people to help you make films, which means you need to have truly insane ideas to attract their intention and you need to be casting a pretty wide net.