The work of promising filmmaker Cameron Duncan was seen internationally, after two of his short films were included on an international DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Son of Auckland cinematographer Rhys Duncan, Cameron continued to make films while battling cancer. He passed away on 12 November 2003, aged 17.
You see a lot of work from young filmmakers and this kid was the real thing. It was stunning, frightening how clever he was at that age. Peter Jackson, on Cameron Duncan
This episode of arts show Frontseat visits the inaugural edition of the Māori Film Festival in Wairoa, with Ramai Hayward and Merata Mita making star turns, alongside a tribute to teenage filmmaker Cameron Duncan. Elsewhere, Deborah Smith and Marti Friedlander korero about their She Said exhibition, and about photographing kids and staging reality; and Auckland’s St Matthew in the City showcases spiritual sculpture. A ‘where are they now’ piece catches up with Val Irwin, star of Ramai and Rudall Hayward's interracial romance To Love a Māori (1972).
Featuring cameos from numerous softball legends (including the late Kevin Herlihy), Strike Zone is a love-letter to the game from director and NZ under-16 pitcher Cameron Duncan. Duncan stars as a dying coach trying to motivate his team to win a key game. The messages of teamwork and not giving up are made more poignant by the many real-life parallels: during filming torrential rain turned the diamond into a quagmire, and Strike Zone's teen director, himself stricken by cancer, almost died on set, before going on to compere the film's premiere.
Cameron Duncan wrote, directed and starred in this short film, the same year a lump in his knee turned out to be cancerous. Aged only 16, Duncan had already showcased his filmmaking talents on a series of award-winning short pieces made for Fair Go's annual programme devoted to commercials. With DFK6498, he channels his recent experiences into a short, stylishly-shot memoir of incarceration, frustration and freedom lost. The film went on to win a trio of awards at Wanganui's River City Film Festival and win praise from director Peter Jackson.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.