Animated plasticine. Talking chickens. Dancing Cossacks. Plus old favourites bro'Town, Hairy Maclary and Footrot Flats. From Len Lye to Gollum, feast on the talents of Kiwi animators. In his backgrounder to the Animation Collection, NZ On Screen's Ian Pryor provides handy pathways through the frogs, dogs and stop motion shenanigans.
This animated hit follows the adventures of five kids growing up in the Auckland suburb of Morningside. The show's fearless, un-PC wit was developed from the poly-saturated comedy of theatre group Naked Samoans. In bro'Town's very first episode, Valea gets hit by a bus and wakes up a genius, allowing him to demonstrate that his school is not just full of dumbarses after the boys compete on a school quiz show. The Simpsons-esque celebrity cameos start strong, thanks to Robert Rakete, Scribe, PM Helen Clark, David Tua and "marvellous" John Campbell.
In the days before 24-hour television, there was Goodnight Kiwi, a short animation from Sam Harvey that bade viewers goodnight once the day's broadcasting ended. Each night the plucky Kiwi shut up shop at the TV station, put out the milk, and caught the lift up to sleep in a satellite dish with The Cat. For a generation of kids, Goodnight Kiwi became a much-loved symbol of staying up well past your bedtime. Viewers never questioned why our nocturnal national icon was going to bed at night, or sharing a bed with a cat. The tune is an arrangement of Māori lullaby 'Hine e Hine'.
Presented by an animated pencil, but no less authoritative for it, From Len Lye to Gollum traces the history of Kiwi animation from birth in 1929, to the triumphs of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The interviews and animated footage cover every base, from early pioneers (Len Lye, Disney import John Ewing) to the possibilities opened by computers (Weta Digital, Ian Taylor’s Animation Research). Along the way Euan Frizzell remembers the dog he found hardest to animate and the famous blue pencil; and Andrew Adamson speculates on how ignorance helped keep Shrek fresh.
The first animated feature made and originated in New Zealand, 25 April tells the story of the country's involvement in an ill-fated mission to take a piece of Turkish coastline during World War I. 2700 Kiwis died and ‘ANZAC’ became a symbol of national identity. Director Leanne Pooley mines archive war diaries, and uses graphic novel style recreations from Flux Animation to evoke the the perspective of six participants. 25 April debuted at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival. Alongside an excerpt, a short making of video shows how facial motion capture fed into the film's distinctive look.
Based on the chldren's books by Lynley Dodd, this show follows beloved dog Hairy McLary on his adventures in the neighbourhood. Opening with the theme tune familiar to many Kiwi families, this is Hairy's first screen adventure, introducing his canine mates — Schnitzel von Krumm, Bottomley Potts and Muffin McClay — and his tomcat tormenter: Scarface Claw! Actor Miranda Harcourt narrates, capturing the rhythms of Dodd's prose that have seen the stories sell in the millions since they first appeared in 1983. The 10-part series was animated by the late Euan Frizzell.
This documentary backgrounds the process of turning Murray Ball's comic strip into New Zealand's first animated feature. Who will voice the iconic Dog? Pat Cox, the original producer, stays off-screen; but there are interviews with perfectionist Footrot creator Murray Ball, fellow Manawatu scribe Tom Scott and John Clarke, who argues he narrowly beat Meryl Streep to provide the voice of Wal. Amongst the making of footage, the late Mike Hopkins (who won Oscar glory on Lord of the Rings) lends his feet to the sound effects. Tony Hiles writes about the making of the film here.
Bob Stenhouse worked largely alone to visualise this luminously-animated ode to the "nation of drunkards" (as New Zealand was tagged in the House of Lords in 1838). A shepherd tricks a Mackenzie barman out of a bottle of ‘Hokonui Lightning', but too much pioneer spirit sees him haunted by the devil's daughter. In 1986 Frog was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short; later an animation festival in Annecy, France judged it one of the best animated films made that century. A short 'making of' clip at the end offers hints of the hard work behind the film's distinctive look.
Decades after the words "and Hugo said you go" first entered eardrums, this animated Kentucky Fried Chicken advert is still remembered by many on both sides of the Tasman. Two children sit in the car with a hunger so strong, they're "getting thinner" (though not so you'd notice). Song, lyrics and imagery work as one: the car, the animals and (in the last shot) the KFC store all move in time with the music, sending a 'we're all in this together'message that is as hypnotic as it is logic-defying. The promo was animated by Zap in Australia. Just one question: why does Holly sound like a male?
By 1987, TVNZ’s music video show Radio with Pictures was 12 years old — and producer (and future MTV Europe boss) Brent Hansen was looking to inject into the show some of the visual style now being exhibited by MTV. So he approached artist and musician Fane Flaws, and gave him carte blanche to create a new opening sequence. Animation was a new field for Flaws; but using the Eastern tinged, koto-driven composition ‘Calamity’ (by his former Crocodiles band mate Peter Dasent) as his theme music, Flaws created a unique and strikingly surreal piece that won two awards.
One of the most controversial political ads to emerge from New Zealand, this 1975 spot only played twice on local TV, but helped bring National a landslide win. National leader Rob Muldoon’s chief target was the Labour Government’s superannuation scheme, which the ad notoriously associated with communism, via a troupe of dancing Cossacks. Created by ad agency Colenso, the concept was animated by Hanna-Barbera in Australia. After being elected, Muldoon brought in a replacement superannuation scheme.
The Lambeth Walk was a popular 'swing jazz' dance in London in 1939. It included a hand gesture with the Yiddish "Oi!". New Zealand-born filmmaker Len Lye edited together different versions of the music (including Django Reinhardt on guitar and Stephane Grapelli on violin), and combined them with a variety of abstract images painted and scratched directly onto film, without using a camera. The colourful, dynamic animation was made with public money — for the (UK) Ministry of Information — scandalising some government bureaucrats.
Galaxies away from images of tar-addled lungs on cigarette packets, this film offers an unusual public health message about smoking. Set to rhyming couplets, the plasticine hero tries out to see if he has the right stuff to fly a rocket to Venus. There he battles the demon Nicotine, and (prefiguring Avatar’s astro-colonialism) convinces Venusians to destroy their tobacco trees. Shot in 35mm by pioneering animator Fred O’Neill, Space Flight was made for theatrical release. For reasons unknown the Health Department, who commissioned it, didn't want the film to go on general release.
Ovine raconteurs Robert and Sheepy made their short film debut in 2001, thanks to the stop motion magic of Guy Capper. Capper and Jemaine (Flight of the Conchords) Clement's comical duo — one loquacious, one laconic — stood out from the flock amidst 100s of entries in the trans-Tasman Nescafe Short Film Awards, sharing first prize in 2001. Further occasional installments of The Pen were made over the next decade and shown online, and in 2010 Robert and Sheepy’s woolly wisdom was brought to TV audiences as a segment in sketch show Radiradirah.
In Poppy two Kiwi soldiers discover a baby in a muddy WWI trench. For Paddy it will lead to redemption amidst the hell of war. From a David Coyle script — based on his great-grandfather’s war story — Poppy was another successful computer-animation collaboration between producer Paul Swadel and director James Cunningham (Infection, Delf). CGI evokes a bleak Western Front landscape on which the (motion-captured) human drama unfolds. Cunningham spent over 4500 hours making Poppy; the result was acclaim at Siggraph, and invites to Telluride and SXSW festivals.
This animated promo was one of a series that ran from 1966 to help communicate New Zealand’s shift to decimal currency. The existing imperial system divided pounds into 20 shillings and 240 pence, and required working out the fractions. In 1963 it was decided to ‘decimalise’ to make things simpler. ‘Mr Dollar’ was the icon of the change, and here, with the help of a Dad joke, he introduces the notes and coins, and the changeover date. Mr Dollar — plus 27 million banknotes and 165 million coins — officially marched into town on 10 July 1967.
This CGI animated short stars the Easter Bunny and Santa, but its take on festive spirit is far from cuddly. 'Tis the season to be addled in writer Wayne Ching’s twisted tale of an embittered bunny (voiced by English comedian Harry Enfield) whose remorse for Santa’s presents is “fuelled by vodka and anti-depressants.” A tattooed Santa channels Withnail and I’s Uncle Monty, and the rhyming couplets are more AO Grinch than child friendly. Directed by Alan Dickson and made by Kiwi animation house Yukfoo, the black comedy screened at Tribeca and SXSW film festivals.
This Joe Wylie animation is a veritable treat: the melodramatic grotesqueries, bright colours, surgery porn and animated tomato sauce all contribute to produce one of New Zealand's first iconic music videos. The band apparently kept their breakup a secret until Wylie finished work for the clip, so he could get paid! The Auckland-produced video was the second made for 'Bride of Frankenstein'. The first was shot in Sydney, and in B movie style featured band members as surgeons who construct a bride (played by Toy Love keyboardist Jane Walker).
Veialu Aila-Unsworth directs this re-imagining of the ubiquitous blue and white ‘willow china’ ceramic pattern (designed by Thomas Minton in the late 18th Century). Aila-Unsworth’s exquisite animation uses the design as a tableau for a tragic tale. It tells the story — supposedly derived from an ancient Chinese folktale — of lovers fleeing an angry father. The doomed pair are ultimately transformed into birds by the gods, finally escaping from oppression ... and bangers and mash. Blue Willow was selected for the Berlin Film Festival (Kinderfest section).
Peter Jackson's love affair with moviemaking and special effects was ignited by seeing the original King Kong (1933) as a child. Jackson's Kiwi-shot remake takes one of cinema's most iconic monster movies, retains the 30s setting and iconic New York finale, and toughens up the "beauty" (Naomi Watts). The film also transforms the male (non-ape) lead from lunkhead to sensitive playwright (Adrien Brody). Exhilarating, Oscar-winning CGI brings the great ape to life, alongside rampaging dinosaurs, and oversized weta inexplicably absent from the maligned 1976 remake.
Life on Ben is a partly-animated series for kids exploring the intricacies of skin life. Gordon and Gloob (voiced by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement and Boy director Taika Waititi) are two symbiotic creatures who go on an unexpected stop motion journey. When their host, 10-year-old Ben, gets an itch in his butt, the plasticine duo find themselves exiled to his nostril. On their quest to get home they meet a petri dish of other microbial folk. Created by Luke Nola (Let’s Get Inventin’), the 10 two-minute episodes — in full here — were distributed internationally.
New Zealand’s first CGI short film gives “eyes on the road” a new meaning as a pair of eyeballs drive to a mind-bending purgatory. A collaboration between visual effects man John Sheils and his brother Michael, Scream was shot in early 1991; finally 25 minutes of footage was “brutally” edited down to three, and fulsomely scored by John Gibson. The sly ‘based on true events’ title-card nods to the makers’ ambitions to “treat animation like live action.” In 1994 it screened in NZ cinemas as opener to the ILM wizardry of Jim Carrey hit The Mask, followed by a number of overseas festivals.
Flip & Two Twisters is a Shirley Horrocks documentary about New Zealand artist Len Lye. Motion maestro Lye's international reputation rests on his work as a filmmaker and kinetic sculptor and his lively contributions to the London and New York avant-garde. The documentary explores Lye's career and ideas, with the help of historical footage and excerpts from his films. It includes footage of Lye in typically exuberant form outlining his process, introduces many of his kinetic works, and documents how some of his most ambitious plans are now being realised in NZ.
In 1986 Footrot Flats: The Dog's (Tail) Tale and its theme song ‘Slice of Heaven’ were huge hits in New Zealand and Australia. The adaptation of Murray Ball's beloved Footrot Flats comic strip marked Aotearoa's first animated feature. There were a lot of big questions to answer: Will Wal become an All Black? Will Cooch recover his stolen stag? Will the Dog win your hearts and funny bones? Punters answered at the box office. This John Toon-shot trailer doubled as a promo for the Dave Dobbyn-Herbs song, and smartly leveraged both. Tony Hiles writes about the film's making here.
This made-for-the-wee-kids series follows SpottyWot and DottyWot, two playful aliens exploring life on earth. In this episode, a chase around the farm sees the two stumbling upon a sheepdog helping a farmer herd his sheep, which gives DottyWot an idea about how cleaning up could be turned into a game. The CGI-animated WotWots appeared on more than 70 episodes, and screened in many countries. The show was produced by Pūkeko Pictures, a partnership between children’s author Martin Baynton, and Weta co-founders Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger.
This comedic series about a suburban hip hop band with stars in its eyes was based on a comic strip by Coco Solid, aka writer/artist/musician Jessica Hansell. The strip featured in the NZ Herald's Volume magazine. She joins forces here with Wellington music/animation collective Skyranch (Simon Ward, Don Brooker, Luke 'Disasteradio' Rowell, Kenny Smith, Richard Pilkington). Aroha Bridge was funded by NZ On Air under original title Hook Ups. It debuted on the NZ Herald’s website in May 2013.
In James Cunningham’s award-winning short a mutant three-fingered hand attempts a brash virtual heist, seeking to wipe a student loan debt in a government databank. The “digital action thriller” was a third collaboration between Cunningham and producer Paul Swadel. Infection’s fast-paced action, humour, and (then) state-of-the-art 3D CGI rendering (punctured eyeballs, hypodermic needles) was in confident contrast to the realist Kiwi short film tradition. Infection won selection in competition at Cannes, Sundance, and numerous other international festivals.
Set in a world where animal is vegetable and the creepy crawlies are just that, this short film showcases the trippy talents of animators Joe Wylie (Kiwi classics Te Rerenga Wairua, Bride of Frankenstein) and John Robertson (internationally lauded for his commercials work). Following a nightwatchman whose meddling kicks evolution into overdrive at the pesticide factory, the film injects a chirruping, clanking ambient score into a petri dish of Naked Lunch, The Fly and and some B-movie black comedy. It was selected for France's Annecy Animation Festival in 1993.
Two long versions and a short version of the titles for the late night rock show; and a first attempt at animation for Avalon graphic designer Mike Peebles who was just out of art school. Sensibility is horror meets underground comics with a touch of Monty Python - but Peebles was anxious to avoid existing imagery (excepting the Rolling Stones mouth for the "wah-wah" voice). The first features a voice somewhere between Vincent Price and Isaac Hayes, ending with the invocation "and buckets of blood, baby". The end of the second is more matter of fact.
Disappear is a wordless tale of a man who wishes life wasn't always so busy. Described by its creator as being about the way "our dreams often take a backseat to the daily grind", the short film has a unique look thanks to its black and white stop motion animation. Kiwi Hendrikus De Vaan created the passion project in his garage over two and a half years, utilising complex camera moves that are far harder to pull off in stop motion than with live action. The result won a place in the 2014 NZ International Film Festival, and the approval of Aardman Animations legend Peter Lord.
Henry Waghorn and his kindhearted son Henry run a chicken circus, although sometimes there are accidents. Then a smooth-tongued entrepreneur comes to visit, with secret plans to turn chickens into chicken legs. Egg and Bomb is a mini-epic of good versus bad which features explosions, chickens on roller skates, thwarted love and caffeine-related psychosis. This quirky animated short was directed by George Port, a former founder member of Peter Jackson's special effects powerhouse Weta.
Armed with his trusty ray gun and protected by his pith helmet Lord Broadforce's exotic species search on an alien planet is going swimmingly ... until the dame gets colonial angst. The short is based on the sci-fi world of Dr Grordbort created by Weta Workshop's Greg Broadmore (designer on District 9, King Kong) in which Victorian steampunk meets star-trekking trophy hunting. The live action-CGI film is another impressive product of Media Design School's 3D animation programme: created by 11 students over 22 weeks under the direction of James Cunningham.
Norvin has razor teeth and looks as much like a shark as any young boy can. So he makes a dorsal fin out of plastic and sets off to scare everyone out of the water. Now Norvin has the cove to himself. Or does he? The success of animator Euan Frizzell's wry adaptation of the Margaret Mahy picture book saw four more Mahy tales follow (collected on DVD as The Magical World of Margaret Mahy). Among a trio of awards, The Great White Man-Eating Shark won best children's short at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Ray Henwood provides the droll narration.
This trippy animation follows the spirit of a person killed in a motorway car accident. The life force (wairua) runs through forest and beaches on its journey to Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Rēinga). En route it meets tourist buses and other spirits, before reaching the gnarly pohutukawa and making the leap towards Hawaiki-Nui. There's a real native joy in seeing contemporary 80s animation enliven ancient Māori spiritual concepts. Joe Wylie (Toy Love's Bride of Frankenstein) was in charge of the animation team; The Clean provide the soundtrack to the all-stops-out finale.
This first episode of the animated series for kids follows germaphobic Stanley and feisty Mary-Jane down a plughole into ‘Drainworld’. There they help a plethora of slimy mutated creatures battle the evil Dr Drain. Created by Jim Mora (Mucking In) and Flux Animation's Brent Chambers, Staines was NZ’s first official animation international co-production (with Australian studio Flying Bark). The 26 episode series debuted on Australia’s Seven in late 2006, on TV2 in early 2007, and sold globally. It opens with the award-winning theme tune composed by Australian Michael Lira.
On an evening stroll in 1996, two elderly Paekakariki twins suddenly encountered a ropey bull. Caught in an unexpected predicament, they tried patting it, praying, and holding onto its horns for dear life. Using an audio recording in which Pearl Mills matter-of-factly retells the experience, the Simmonds Brothers utilise colourful animation to bring the whole homely tale to life. Following on from their first film — based on interviews with people from Paekakariki township — this ‘documation’ short was again inspired by the stories of ‘ordinary’ people.
The second Lord of the Rings installment sees hobbit Frodo Baggins continuing his mission to destroy the ring. Meanwhile the Fellowship is breaking apart, and an epic night battle ensues at Helm's Deep. The film marked a star turn by Gollum, the emaciated Andy Serkis-voiced creature whose realisation was a cinema landmark and a triumph for the design and special effects team. Alongside praise for the film's pace and spectacle, The Two Towers broke international opening records, before going on to outgross Fellowship of the Ring, and win two technical Oscars.
As a trench coat-clad protagonist enters the room, the jazzy soundtrack and copious shadows promise a claymation exercise in film noir. But the room advertised in director Barry Prescott’s first short film is no ordinary rental. It soon becomes apparent that a more unusual threat is responsible for the lack of furnishings and tenants — and it threatens the man and his oversized revolver. Television has been accused of rotting brains, but this short takes the allegation to the next level. Unfurnished Room for Rent screened at the Palm Springs and Seattle film festivals.
The Simon Eliot Show was a ground-breaking quiz show for children, based on hit book Everything You Need to Know about the World. Contestants interacted in real time with Simon, an animated host with blue skin. Children played from home via the internet using a webcam, while Simon hosted the show from his bedroom in a Wellington ‘virtual' studio. Viewers were also able to text in to win a prize. Running for two seasons, the show won an NZ On Air award for Outstanding Innovation in Kids Programmes.
In this documentary children's author Margaret Mahy is interviewed at her Governors Bay home by friend and fellow author Elizabeth Knox. Many of Mahy's beloved storybook characters also appear to put her on the spot about their origins. In this excerpt, the famous lion from A Lion in the Meadow thanks her for making him yellow, and Mahy talks about eating porridge thrice a day as a young solo mum. Yvonne Mackay directed this seamless mix of real life and Euan Frizzell-created animation. Read more about the doucmentary here.
Four shorts in one, starring the claymation character who represents "the bad-tempered little knot we all have inside." Decaff originally debuted in two short videos. Funded by grants and a student loan, this 35mm film adds two new stories to remakes of the originals. Decaff made a strong impact on the short film scene, gained a cult audience and the character co-hosted TV show Short Cuts, a showcase for Kiwi shorts. Decaff's creator Greg Page, drummer, artist and music video-maker is the director behind horror film The Locals.
One of two trailers made to celebrate 100 years of New Zealand cinema; the other was by John O'Shea. Each stop-motion plasticine representation morphs to another in director Greg Page's eclectic, energetic and humourous romp through New Zealand film icons and moments. Produced by Jonathan Dennis and Jan Bieringa, the trailers were funded by the Film Commission, with sponsorship from Kodak and support from the Film Unit and Film Archive; and were distributed to cinemas throughout New Zealand.
Subtitled ‘a conversation with my grandfather’, this animated short sees Joel Kefali (director of the music video for Lorde’s ‘Royal’) documenting memories from his Turkish 'Baba' of arriving in 1951 Auckland. Sausage rolls, dances and the death penalty are animated via cut-out shapes, and scored to Baba’s colourful pidgin phrasing — “go to the hell!”. Noel Murray of US website The Dissolve praised the “ample artistry” of Kefali’s familial tribute. Baba was a part of Loading Docs: a series of low budget three-minute long films made for online release.
A delightful animation accompanies this number one single from folk-poppers Avalanche City. With its big, catchy, chorus, the song delivers the feel-good factor and the video captures its quaint essence perfectly with its cast of storybook pirates and penguins. Mass exposure for the song came when it was used for TV2 promos and it took off on release, going gold in four weeks (despite being earlier available as a free download).
Alone in his cell, a deeply disturbed old man delivers a psychotic monologue, and reveals an alarming secret in this darkly funny claymation short from the workshop of Tom Reilly. Reilly made his first claymation short in 2001 and is one of just a few New Zealand animators using this technique. Three more shorts and a children's TV series won him the SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year Award in 2003. He is now directing live action TV and commercials and his documentary on a wesitie misfit car-yard operator — Gordonia — was released to positive reviews in 2010.
Biscuits dance, food flies, dead chickens walk ... come closing time, the shelves of a dairy come to life. Four years in the making, this showcase of stop motion effects is based loosely on a classic poem by Goethe. The lively Indian-tinged soundtrack is inspired by the poem's most famous retelling: the Disney classic Fantasia, in the Sorcerer's Apprentice sequence where Mickey Mouse battles magical broomsticks. The music is handled by John Psathas, who later composed for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Do robots dream of mechanical owls? A young woman in distress wakes up to find she has a 'robot problem' in her apartment. As the wee ‘bots (resembling animated cuisenaire rods) cause mayhem, she calls for help on her rat-phone. Roused from the Winter Gardens, an exterminator and his giant caged owl come to the rescue. The promo was one of several shot for The Mint Chicks by Crystal Bear-winning short film director Sam Peacocke (Manurewa). To create the miniature robots, life-size puppets were shot in front of a green screen, then composited into the action.
One morning, as kids are stealing apples from an old man’s orchard high above a seaside town, an earthquake hits. No one is hurt, and the townsfolk are non-plussed, but the old man is agitated: he alone is aware of the imminent tsunami and tries to warn the village. Based on a classic Japanese fable, The Orchard was made by one-man band Bob Stenhouse, who had been nominated for an Academy Award the previous decade for pioneer tale The Frog, The Dog and The Devil. Fans of the animator will recognise the lush, luminous hand-drawn style.
Set on a New Zealand farm, this animated series for young Kiwis follows the escapades of Massey Ferguson the talking tractor, Gracie the farm bike, Rusty the old car, and others (Massey Fergusons are an icon of Kiwi farming). Created by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In) and Brent Chambers from company Flux Animation, the series screened on TVNZ. Mora said the series aimed “to be true to farming life, while giving urban children an idea of the life that exists outside New Zealand’s cities.”
Chris Knox's grungy collage-style clip suits this mournful song perfectly. The sequence offering multifarious images of what “turning brown” might mean — from a deep tan to race-swapping — is a particular delight. The shot of Knox's daughter Leisha as a toddler, with the scratched in message "there is always hope" gives the clip a surprisingly poignant ending. In his ScreenTalk interview for NZ On Screen, Knox recalled it was a technical problem that led to him scratching directly onto the film, in the style of his hero Len Lye.
This short documentary follows refugee Mitchell Pham from a Vietnam War prison camp to a new home in New Zealand. Director Sally Tran — a 2013 Killer Films Internship Scholarship recipient — uses an interview with Pham as an adult, and live action mixed with animation to recreate the harrowing childhood journey. DIY more than CGI, the animation process was based on Vietnamese folded paper-craft. Requiring 20 volunteers, the 10,000 animated pieces of paper (and a rich score from The Sound Room) provide suggestive weight to Pham’s story of survival and courage.
This short animated comedy offers up a pre-Wellywood tale of Hollywood coming down under. In the fictional West Coast town of Whatawhopa, a horror movie film crew has arrived to take advantage of the town's persistent rain. When the forecast fails, the town’s lazy fire fighters — “burning and yearning for a fire”— are finally sparked into action. The National Film Unit production was directed by Bob Stenhouse (Oscar-nominated for The Frog, the Dog and the Devil) who is clearly relishing the chance to go to town on scenes of rain, lightning, fire and monsters with droopy eyes.
This Simmonds Brothers short film tells tells the story of Raumati South Kindergarten's beloved — but ill-fated — rooster. The early-rising hard-rocking cockerel's waking up of the neighbourhood sees complaints made to the council, and dog ranger Don Wolff is assigned to the case. The tragi-comic saga adds a surrealistic talking rooster twist to the Simmonds Bro's distinctive 'documation' style, which uses 2D animation and audio to portray real-life events. The 2001 shooting made national news, and Paul Holmes' and Carol Hirschfield's coverage features alongside local reaction.
The Listener described the child-friendly music of Fatcat & Fishface as sounding “like Tom Waits’ toy cupboard.” ‘Happity’ (from album Meanie) is a bogan twist on Cinderella, with an uncoordinated rabbit from Palmerston North — “the fumbliest, stubbliest bunny of all / His feet are too big and his teeth are too small” — feeling dateless before the Manawatu ball. Made with stop motion animation, the video was directed by Derek Sonic Thunders, who gained notoriety for his video ‘Songs About Drinkin’ and Dyin', in which Action Man and Barbie do unmentionable things.
This short film is a lively animation by Fred O'Neill starring a cast of craggy characters made from that ubiquitous children's play dough of the 1960s and 70s: plasticine. Figures cavort and morph to the music in varied sight and sound gags. There's no real narrative, and contrary to the title, it is in fact a celebration of the limitless possibilities of the materials. Figures and shapes form, and transform delightfully, constantly moving, fighting, and dancing against hand painted backdrops. Dunedin-based O'Neill did almost everything on the film himself.
At least 3,080 Polaroid photographs appear to have been taken for this piece of stop motion cleverness from Kelvin Soh and his Auckland-based fluid design practice The Wilderness. Featuring a youthful Anika Moa, the clip takes us on a stuttery journey through this brooding track, while the photos' scrawled number sequence gives the clip a deceptive sense of simplicity and DIY appeal.
Chris Knox mines his immediate, 1981-era surroundings for this elaborate stop-motion clip. Record players go crazy, sleeping bags swallow people, and hardly anyone on screen seems to have a face. On the telly are Springboks and protests, plus the Ready to Roll top 20 countdown. And all this unravels a full two decades before editing programme Final Cut Pro made homespun hip again, and directors like Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep) started popularising the craft aesthetic.
Director Sam Neill uses ‘Architect Man’ — a cartoon superhero trying to save Wellington’s buildings from mediocrity — to open this visual essay on contemporary Kiwi architecture. A montage of construction materials is followed by views on the high rise, woolshed, and Futuna Chapel. Renovation, DIY, prefabs and non-conformist design thinking are offered as hopes for the built environment’s future. Made by Neill when he was working at the National Film Unit, it was released in a shortened version (without the animation) in 1977, the same year he starred in movie Sleeping Dogs.