Producer, Director, Writer, Actor
Thomas Robins has acted alongside digital penguins, dodgy teachers, and a ring forged in the fires of Mount Doom. Off-screen, his directing work has won a bag of awards, thanks to 2009's Reservoir Hill. He created the International Emmy-winning web series with David Stubbs, his partner at KHF Media. Robins was also behind TV series The Killian Curse, and directed 2017 telemovie Catching the Black Widow.
Film, television, online, mobile, tablet — to me it doesn't matter how the story is delivered. The only thing that matters is that I'm telling riveting, entertaining stories about intriguing and engaging characters. Thomas Robins
Belief examines the 2007 death of young Wainuiomata mother Janet Moses during an attempted exorcism. It uses a blend of interviews and reenactments to explore a tragedy which director David Stubbs believes was caused by "fear and love mixing and turning into hysteria". In 2009 five members of Janet’s family were charged in relation to her death. Belief debuted in the 2015 NZ International Film Festival before screening on TV One. Herald critic Peter Calder called it "compelling and heartbreaking". David Stubbs was judged Best Documentary Director at the 2017 Moa Awards.
Described by co-star Neill Rea as the "little show that could", The Brokenwood Mysteries has screened in over 15 countries and and involved a long run of fictional murders. Each episode of the Prime TV crime drama is a stand-alone 90 minute murder mystery, set in a small Kiwi town. Neill Rea (Scarfies) stars as veteran detective Mike Shepherd, who works alongside Detective Kristin Sims (played by Fern Sutherland from The Almighty Johnsons). Backing up the pair are Detective Sam Breen (Nic Sampson from Funny Girls) and Russian pathologist Gina Kadinsky (Cristina Ionda).
JRR Tolkien's beloved novel The Hobbit follows Bilbo Baggins on a quest to help reclaim the lost dwarf homeland of Erebor from the dragon Smaug. Shoulder-tapped by Gandalf for the mission against some opposition, Bilbo joins a company of dwarves in an epic adventure: vying against goblins, orcs and Gollum's riddles. After the box office blitzing and Oscar-slaying Lord of the Rings trilogy, adapting the precursor novel was an expected journey. Martin Freeman (The Office, Sherlock) is Bilbo, and Peter Jackson is again at the helm in this first of a three-part adaptation.
"As dark as Twilight, as twisted as Twin Peaks, and as bitchy as Gossip Girl" is David Stubbs' summary of the series he co-created, produced and directed with Tom Robins for Krafthaus Films. Beautiful but doomed Beth Connolly (played by the coincidentally named Beth Chote) washes up in Kafkaesque suburban Porirua, where folks are understandably freaked out by her dead-on resemblance to missing schoolgirl Tara. The winner of an International Digital Emmy in 2010, the series originally screened in 2009 and has since been sold to Swedish channel SVT.
Phar Lap — the pavlova of the equine world — is the subject of this episode in a series looking at some of Te Papa’s holdings. Bred and trained in New Zealand, he spent most of his outstanding racing career in Australia (before dying in suspicious circumstances in California) and is regarded as a national treasure on both sides of the Tasman. His fate reflects those claims, with his skeleton at Te Papa, his hide in Melbourne and his heart in Canberra. This mini-doco backgrounds Phar Lap’s life and includes some of the scarce footage available of him.
Production company Krafthaus won an International Digital Emmy Award for this front-running interactive web series for young people, in which the audience texted in suggestions to drive the plot. Evoking a certain series of blockbuster vampire films, dark-haired beauty Beth Connolly (Beth Chote) arrives in a new town, where people are odd and the sky is permanently overcast. After a very strange reception from her classmates, brainbox Monika (Michelle Ny) shows Beth a picture of missing schoolgirl Tara — whom Beth is a dead ringer for.
In the second episode of Krafthaus' award-winning interactive web series, Beth's mum convinces her to give school a two-week trial after a nightmarish first day in which Beth (Beth Chote) discovered she was a dead ringer for missing schoolgirl (and everyone's worst enemy) Tara. But her classmates are every bit as kooky as the day before. After school, she meets friendly girl racer Sammy (Greer Samuel) then hottie Matt (Tim Kano). But just as the town and its folk seem almost normal, Beth is confronted by a sinister gang.
Acting on the advice of friends from home (actually audience members texting in), Beth accepts a ride to school from the mysterious Matt in the third episode of this International Emmy Award-winning interactive web series. But someone is watching them. Matt, we discover, knew Beth's missing lookalike Tara and certain shady rumours about Matt's personal life are proved correct. Beth visits Tara's sister Lilli (Tai Berdinner-Blades) in hospital, where she encounters cray-cray Mrs Jay (Carmel McGlone), who drops a horrible burden onto Beth.
In the fourth ep of Krafthaus' award-winning web series, Beth Connolly (Beth Chote) wanders into the forest searching for clues about the gang, where she runs into sassy Petra (Abby Damon) and a male friend. Sammy takes Beth to the softly spoken James (Dan Caddy), brother of missing schoolgirl Tara, who has been following Beth to what is revealed as an obsessive degree. James promises to help her. Spooky Mrs Jay (Carmel McGlone) reappears and this time, it's as if she's a different person.
A text from an audience member advises Beth to go to Petra's party in the fifth ep of this International Emmy Award-winning web series for teens. While Beth tries to stay close to her friend Sammy, she is distracted by Petra, then Monika, then Matt ... each of whom tells her disturbing news relating to the disappearance of Beth's lookalike Tara. Despite their pact not to drink too much, Sammy ends up in a drunken fight with host Petra, who reveals the real reason why Lilli Jay is in hospital. Hurt that Beth left her alone, Sammy leaves the party by herself.
The sixth episode of this Emmy Award-winning interactive web series begins with Beth (Beth Chote) returning from the party late and trying to confide in her mother about the spooky goings on around Reservoir Hill. Beth continues to find cul de sacs negotiating life in the eerie suburb: James Jay denies that he assaulted Matt, but Beth tricks him into telling the truth. And James' half-sister Lilli has just returned from hospital, disorientated, and confuses Beth with her missing sister Tara. The episode ends on a disturbing revelation.
Nightmare and reality collide in this seventh episode of David Stubbs and Thomas Robins' interactive web drama Reservoir Hill, which picked up an International Digital Emmy in 2010. Beth (Beth Chote) reveals Lilli's secret to Sammy — only to find Sammy has known it all along. Sammy hints at her beef with Matt, but Beth is still drawn to him. James loses his cool and blurts out another accusation at Matt. It's the girls — Beth, Sammy and Monika — who venture up to the reservoir above suburban Porirua, to confront their worst fears.
In the final episode of this International Emmy Award-winning web series, Beth (Beth Chote) is on the run from the hooded, masked bike gang, and heads into the perennially grey and misty streets of Porirua. Although Matt (Tim Kano) promises to rescue her, Beth finds herself trapped on a dam surrounded by the hoodies — where at last she discovers the secret of the town's bizarre and spooky behaviour towards her. What she does next is even more surprising...
Stories behind 100 of more than 2 million pieces in Te Papa’s collections are investigated in this series of mini-documentaries commissioned by digital channel TVNZ6. Presenters Simon Morton and Riria Hotere talk to the museum’s curators and researchers about items ranging from the quirky to the nationally, and internationally, significant. Subjects include artworks by Colin McCahon and John Reynolds, a Fijian war club, a Samoan cricket bat, a “murder house” dental nurse’s equipment, the Playschool toys, an Egyptian mummy and the fate of the Huia.
This award-winning telefilm imagines the effects of a major earthquake on New Zealand’s capital city, and how its citizens react to chaos, death, isolation and tsunami. It was completed in 2008 — before Christchurch took Wellington’s mantle as NZ's shakiest city, and made Aftershock's imagined scenes a reality. Aftershock was produced for TV3 by The Gibson Group, and written by veteran screenwriter Graeme Tetley (Out of the Blue, Vigil). The following week saw the debut of Aftershock - Would You Survive?, which put a real-life family through a three-day survival test.
Freaky creator Thomas Robins’ second horror anthology for kids makes use of a sophisticated story structure. Years ago Room 21 at Killian High was cursed by its satanic school founder. A new principal dismisses warnings and opens the space, unleashing the curse onto new students. Each episode is split into three parts as three students battle demons. The number 21 plays an important role; the 21 students of Room 21 must overcome an eclectic range of demons or else the evil Killian claims their souls ‘forever’. A second season followed in 2008.
This motoring show was a Kiwi take on the format that Top Gear made globally famous: motorheads reviewing and having fun in machines that go fast. The first season screened on TV One in 2006; the second screened on Prime the following year. Presenters were actor and director Danny Mulheron, architect Roger Walker, and, joining them for the second season, superbike rider Aaron Slight. Aside from the car reviews, the show included segments like the Motormouth Cup, where Kiwi celebs raced each other to see who could clock the fastest lap on the test track.
Each episode of this kids horror series features three ‘curse busting’ stories. In this first episode, student Jack Williams traces the curse back to creepy Charles Killian’s fondness for satanic rituals. Killian dies a fiery death and damns Room 21’s future students. Despite grave warnings, the new principal unlocks the classroom — and the curse awakens. In the second story it’s studious Celia’s turn to contain and destroy a ‘body jumping’ spirit before it claims her soul; the last tale pits Johnny against a fat-hungry warlock who comes a ‘splatter-tastic’ cropper. A second season followed in 2008.
Teacher Mr Gormsby believes in brutal honesty - and that the education system has gone all namby-pamby. In desperation, a dysfunctional low-decile school employs him.director/co-creator Danny Mulheron was inspired partly by an old school teacher who wore a military beret, and has irreverent fun with the archaic antics of Mr Gormsby. The Dominion Post compared Gormsby to Fred Dagg and Lyn of Tawa; The Sydney Morning Herald found it "darkly funny". Running two seasons, it was nominated for Best Script and Best Comedy in the 2006 NZ Screen Awards.
Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby was a sharp-witted comedy about an appallingly politically incorrect relief teacher. In this episode, the irreverent Mr Gormsby (artfully played by David McPhail) is the unlikely candidate to teach a Human Relationships class. Later, a used condom is discovered in the wharenui and Gormsby's powers of deduction lead him to the culprit. The "darkly funny" comedy (Sydney Morning Herald) was partly based on a former teacher of director Danny Mulheron and was nominated for Best Script and Best Comedy at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards.
Director Danny Mulheron has fun with the subversive character of Mr Gormsby in this irreverently funny series. In desperation, the Tepapawai High School principal has hired paragon of old school values Mr Gormsby (David McPhail) after yet another relief teacher walks out. Forming an instant dislike for fellow teacher 'Steve from Guidance' and frustrated that his trusty cane has been taken from him, Gormsby comes up a unique form of discipline which manages to offend pretty much everyone. Nominated for Best Script and Best Comedy at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards.
Aimed at children, anthology series Freaky showcased tales of horror and the fantastic. Each episode was generally broken up into three stories, from aliens controlling humans like rats in a maze, to a terrifying water slide that transports riders to a prehistoric world. The tweenage Twilight Zone tales spawned a cult following, plus a wiki page detailing each story. Freaky creator Thomas Robins would refine the three stories in one approach with his 2006 anthology series The Killian Curse. He also co-created pioneering web series Reservoir Hill.
Anthology series Freaky set out to scare its young audience each week with three tales of terror and the fantastic. This first episode includes a pair of cautionary tales, and a cannibal story straight from a horror film. The first story sees a boy ignoring a warning sign on a broken waterslide, and ending up lost in a prehistoric jungle. The second features a girl in biology class learning worrying news about a teacher and fellow pupil. The last story involves a teenager who wishes for her own personalised radio station, and gets more than she bargains for.
Monstrous spiders, dragon-aided epic battles, endangered hobbits and final farewells ... the finale of the Lord of the Rings trilogy boldly upped the ante. Although the first two films had excited viewers, critics and accountants, Return of the King sealed Peter Jackson's place in movie legend. Reviewers praised it with gusto and the film won a staggering 11 Oscars, a total matched only by Titanic and Ben-Hur. Return anointed a Hollywood empire in the Wellington suburb of Miramar. The box office figures weren't half bad, and nor was the effect on New Zealand tourism.
When Forgotten Silver — the story of pioneer filmmaker Colin McKenzie — unspooled on 29th October 1995, in a Sunday TV slot normally reserved for drama, many believed the fable was fact. Controversy ensued as a public reacted (indignant, thrilled) to having the wool pulled over their eyes. Costa Botes, who originated the mockumentary, later made this doco, looking at the construction of McKenzie's epic, tragic, yet increasingly ridiculous story. He interviews co-conspirator Peter Jackson and other pranksters, and they muse on the film's priceless impact.
An epic documentary chronicling the extraordinary, unbelievable life of pioneer Kiwi filmmaker Colin McKenzie. Or is it? The first clue that none of this story is true is that the film begins (the opening 10 minutes is excerpted here) with Peter Jackson leading the viewer down a garden path. Much that is absurd and unlikely follows, leading to a curiously emotional climax. The screening of Forgotten Silver memorably stirred up NZ audiences, and it screened at international film festivals such as Cannes and Venice, where it won a special critics' prize.