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Hero image for Hugh Macdonald: Expos, epics and animated amphibians...

Hugh Macdonald: Expos, epics and animated amphibians...

Interview – 2015

Hugh Macdonald’s long filmmaking career encompasses historical epics, Oscar-nominated shorts, and lots of time on the road. Macdonald is probably best-known for three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand, which got crowds queueing at World Expo in Japan, before playing for months back home. A two-decade long stint at the National Film Unit also saw him directing two episodes of historical epic The Governor, and producing the first of many animated shorts. 

In this ScreenTalk, Macdonald talks about:

  • Early career advice to try advertising, before he joined Government filmmakers the National Film Unit at age 18
  • Noticing some tears from the audience when short film This is New Zealand got its first screenings at the NFU
  • The film's enormous success in Japan, and back in New Zealand
  • The joys of getting out on the road to make travel films
  • The 'unique experience' of directing historical TV epic The Governor
  • Memorable all nighters planning the series, alongside workaholic producer/director Tony Isaac
  • Late night script contributions from an Avalon floor, by Keith Aberdein
  • How the spirit of the NFU changed after the departure of longtime manager Geoffrey Scott
  • Producing animated films for Bob Stenhouse
  • Oscar nominations for Stenhouse's The Frog, the Dog and the Devil, alongside Pixar's John Lasseter
  • Witnessing the last days of the Denniston railway incline, while making films After Ninety Years and On Denniston
  • His new film about writer and naturalist Sheila Natusch, No Ordinary Sheila
This video was first uploaded on 30 June 2015, and is available under this Creative Commons licence. This licence is limited to use of ScreenTalk interview footage only and does not apply to any video content and photographs from films, television, music videos, web series and commercials used in the interview.
Interview and editing - Ian Pryor. Camera - Jess Charlton