Grant Lahood made his name directing a trio of short films whose stars ranged from speedy snails and troublesome mice to squabbling animal activists. After taking shorts The Singing Trophy and Lemming Aid to success at Cannes, Lahood has gone on to direct documentaries and two features — one of which (Kombi Nation) features an all human cast.
To get into Cannes was great, but then I realised that people like Clint Eastwood are on the jury. We shot Lemming Aid cheaply on a cliff-top in Titahi Bay in three days of wind. I just never dreamed we’d be here with it. Grant Lahood at the Cannes Film Festival, The Listener, 11 June 1994
In director Grant Lahood's 2013 Tropfest NZ entry a young boy takes Kiwi ingenuity to the next level by creatively adapting his gumboots to net sporting victory. But it’s a risky move. Sprung marks a return for Lahood to his dialogue free short film beginnings (eg. Cannes award-winner The Singing Trophy, and his debut Snail’s Pace). Like those shorts, Sprung has a devilish sense of humour, and a crisply edited contest of wills. The ode to the courage of the young and the unpredictability of science was scored by veteran film and TV composers Plan 9.
Is it a boy? Is it a girl? What if it’s neither? This award-winning doco explores the world of the intersexed (formerly known as hermaphrodites) — those born with any one of 30 conditions that make their gender ambiguous. Presenter Mani Bruce Mitchell — NZ’s first ‘out’ intersex person — and director Grant Lahood had to travel overseas to find interviewees who would talk freely. They discuss living in a society with a binary view of gender which, at best, has made them all but invisible; and, at worst, has subjected many to damaging “corrective” surgery.
London-based jazz saxophonist Nathan Haines returns home to perform with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, where he's to be accompanied by his bassist father, Kevin, and guitarist brother, Joel in a musical family reunion. They've followed different paths since the mid-80s when Nathan was 14 and they used to play as a trio (seen here in archive footage). The NZSO concert features standards and new songs from the brothers. This doco backgrounds those songs, and follows the tricky business of melding jazz group and orchestra in rehearsal and concert.
Bad Dates peeks into a fictional evening of speed dating; those evenings where singles meet prospective partners on fast-rotation. This quick-paced short turns the idea into tragi-comedy, where, in the vital opening bouts of small-talk, a series of prospective relationships go down in flames before they've even begun. Writer/director Grant LaHood democratically gives equal screen time amongst the ensemble cast (made up of graduating students from Toi Whakaari) and to a range of idiosyncrasies ranging from the infantile to the sex-obsessed.
This lighthearted road movie follows three bogans on a mission to join the world of movies. After hearing that Peter Jackson is putting Lord of the Rings on film, they set off from West Auckland for Wellywood, hoping against the odds to score acting roles as hobbits. Written by actor Peter Tait — with help from his bogan co-stars and director Grant Lahood — the film also features a memorable cameo by Madeline Sami, plus a blink-and-you-ll miss it appearance by Mr Jackson himself. And some of the cast really did appear in The Lord of the Rings....
The ‘OE’ is a Kiwi rite of passage, but for those travelling in a Kombi van, the trip can feel “like mixed flatting in a space the size of a ping-pong table” (Peter Calder). In Kombi Nation, Sal sets off to tour Europe with her older sister and friend; they’re joined by a dodgy male and a TV crew, recording the shenanigans. Shot guerilla style after workshopping with the young cast, Grant Lahood’s well-reviewed second feature anticipated the rise of observational ‘reality TV’, but its release was hindered by the collapse of production company Kahukura Films.
After a run of hit short films involving creatures on the run, Chicken marked the feature debut of director Grant Lahood. Brit Bryan Marshall stars as Dwight, a fading pop star who fakes his own death as a career move. Meanwhile a crazed fowl rights-activist (Cliff Curtis), angered at Dwight's promotions for fried chicken, plots revenge. Though the romantic black comedy tanked at the box office, the story and performances did receive some positive notice with Metro reviewer Rick Bryant finding it "very funny ... very enjoyable".
Why did the snail cross the road? This debut short from Grant (Singing Trophy, Lemming Aid) Lahood provides the answer in a four minute time-lapse adventure. With the world whizzing by at 'snail’s pace' (filmed from the snail's temporal — and aural — point of view), the mollusc-on-a-mission faces skaters, high heels, cars and Doc Martens in its epic quest for an iceberg lettuce (displayed outside Patel's Dairy, Berhampore). Snail's Pace gained festival screenings and TV sales around the world, and launched then-lighting cameraman Lahood’s directorial career.
This long-running travelling TV game show pitted towns against each other in a series of colourful physical challenges. The 1986 final takes place at Lower Hutt’s Fraser Park, where teams from Alexandra, Timaru, Whangarei (including future All Black Ian Jones) and Waihi compete for civic bragging rights. Hosted by Bill McCarthy and Paddy O’Donnell, with officials Melissa (Miss Top Town) and champion Olympic kayaker Ian Ferguson. A Taniwha, cross-dressing cheer squads, a Para Pool, and slippery slope, all make for much light entertainment malarkey.