The CV of editor Jeff Hurrell splices TV documentaries — often alongside director Bryan Bruce — with a run of short films, including 2011 award-winner Lambs. The short film work lead to him editing debut features for directors Jason Lei Howden and Paul Campion, Deathgasm and The Devil’s Rock. Hurrell also cut the high profile Born to Dance, and runs Wellington production house Martin Square.
I am committed to the 'invisible' art of film editing. Jeff Hurrell
Rangi Hetet was only 17 years old when he began working as an apprentice, carving the Tāpeka meeting house. Six decades later, his life and work are examined in this documentary, as his children prepare to exhibit his work at the Dowse Art Museum alongside that of their mother, the late Erenora Puketapu-Hetet. The feature-length documentary also explores the art of whakairo (carving), and its cultural significance within Māori communities. Mo Te Iwi director Robin Greenberg's earlier film Tu Tangata: Weaving for the People (2000) was about Erenora and her Māori weaving.
Designed to provide a “perfect storm” of gore, guitars, girls and comedy, Deathgasm involves two young heavy metallers who accidentally summon up a demon. Blazing a bloody trail at festivals across the United States, the film was born from the Make My Movie Project. Four hundred pitches for a low budget Kiwi horror movie led to one winner: this tale inspired by the metal and movie-mad youth of digital effects man and director Jason Lei Howden. After debuting at US festival South by Southwest, Deathgasm won keen reviews, and festival slots in Sydney and Aotearoa.
Tu (real-life hip hop champ Tia Maipi) has six weeks to show the talent that will win him a spot in an international dance group. As the high octane trailer for Born to Dance makes clear, that doesn’t leave much time to muck around. The first movie directed by actor Tammy Davis (Outrageous Fortune) features music by P-Money, and choreography by Manurewa’s own world champ hip hop sensation Parris Goebel (who helped choreograph J. Lo’s 2012 tour). The cast includes Stan Walker and American Kherington Payne (Fame). Playwright Hone Kouka is one of the writing team.
Inspired by the work of Spring Hill Prison music therapist Evan Rhys Davies, Julian Arahanga convinced the Department of Corrections to allow him to film inmates making songs at Rimutaka and Arohata prisons — with mentoring from musicians Anika Moa, Warren Maxwell, Maisey Rika, and Ruia Aperahama. In later seasons Moa was joined by Don McGlashan, Annie Crummer, Laughton Kora, Ladi6, Scribe and Troy Kingi at other prisons. The Māori TV show won Best Reality Series at the 2017 NZ Television Awards, and international interest. It also spawned two albums.
June 1944. On a sabotage mission shortly before D-Day, a Kiwi Commando (Outrageous Fortune’s Craig Hall) sneaks into a German bunker on the Channel Islands. Inside he finds an SS officer who is an expert in the occult (Out of the Blue’s Matt Sunderland), much blood, and a mysterious lone woman who may not be what she seems. Shot in Wellington, the feature debut of effects man Paul Campion ratchets up the tension in the claustrophobic setting. The makeup effects — horned demons, bullet wounds and gore — are led by Weta veteran Sean Foote.
In this short film, 14-year-old Jimmy (Waka Rowlands) faces a tough decision: stay in his abusive home to protect his younger siblings, or escape to start a new life of his own. Written and directed by Sam Kelly, Lambs was inspired by true stories. It competed at the 2012 Clermont-Ferrand and Berlin Film Festivals, and won the Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2012 NZ Film Festival; judge Roger Donaldson raved: “It reminded me of Once Were Warriors in the best possible way.” Lambs was one of the first products of the NZ Film Commission’s ‘Fresh Shorts’ funding scheme.
In this short off-beat romance, Penelope (Anna Kennedy), a temp and unpublished romance novelist, discovers that in order to find love, she has to find herself. Combining fact and fantasy Penelope goes on a quirky quest to write her own love story: from dating, to group therapy, to a 'man rack' that memorably visualises Penelope's tendencies towards the fictional. Veterans Ginette McDonald (Penelope's agent) and Jed Brophy (a short date) are included amongst the supporting cast. Darryn Exists won an honourable mention at Nashville Film Festival.
This short film finds four 1990s teenagers caught up in the complications of growing up in Hutt Valley suburbia. Rising tensions during a day hanging out at the local park see misfit Rory (Riley Brophy) ignite a cracker bag of cravings for belonging, furtive sexual feelings, violence, racism and boredom. The combustive results of his misdirected teen spirit give the film’s title a grim irony. Fijian-born director Shahir Daud based the story loosely on his own experiences as a teen. Double Happy screened at the Montreal Film Festival and was a Short of the Week website pick in May 2011.
Porokoru Patapu (John) Pohe was the first Māori pilot in the RNZAF. Nicknamed 'Lucky Johnny', he was a WWII hero who flew an amazing 22 missions, was involved in the legendary 'Great Escape' from Stalag Luft III, and insisted on removing his blindfold when he faced a German firing squad. This award-winning docu-drama tells Pohe's extraordinary life story. When it screened on Māori Television, Listener reviewer Diana Wichtel called it "a terrific yarn", and it won Best Documentary Aotearoa at the 2008 Wairoa Māori Film Festival Awards. Actor/singer Francis Kora plays Pohe.
After 15 years on TV One, Paul Holmes left his high-rating slot for rival network Prime. New half-hour show Paul Holmes debuted in February 2005, but poor ratings meant it lasted only six months. The following April, Prime debuted the hour-long Holmes, which concentrated on longer interviews with people from business, the arts, sports and politics. Holmes argued the format allowed him the “opportunity to find out what makes the guests tick”. He called it “a style of broadcasting that has been missing from the New Zealand television landscape for a number of years”.
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.
This 2000 reality show involved contestants completing challenges and overcoming a planted double agent, in order to avoid elimination and win a $30,000 cash prize. “All they have to do is survive the show and unmask the mole,” says host Mark Ferguson (Spin Doctors, Shortland Street). In this first episode, the group travel to Queenstown to tandem bungee jump, pack each other’s bags, complete a brain teaser, and eat ... before the first elimination. The Kiwi version of a 1998 Belgian format made a 2016 NZ Herald list of New Zealand’s worst ever reality shows.
Written by Scott Wills, shortly before he won an award for acting in hit pool caper Stickmen, Ouch is the tale of a man (played by Wills) who arrives at a beach close to sunset, gazes intently at a nearby house, and dives into the ocean. Afterwards he approaches the house, and slips inside. The puzzle presented for viewers in this wordless short film is working out what sort of intruder this man is. Wills, director Brian Challis and future Boy producer Ainsley Gardiner first worked together on another moody, low dialogue short, The Hole (1998), which played at festivals around the globe.
Awash with off-kilter angles and some highly unusual noises, The Hole centres around a man and a woman who react in very different ways to the unexpected. Dean (Scott Wills from Apron Strings) and Jenny (Magik and Rose’s Nicola Murphy) are digging a well when Jenny hears voices from the bottom of the hole. The irascible Dean starts thinking about exploitation; Jenny thinks about helping. Inspired by a tale told by his grandmother, Brian Challis’ first film was invited to the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, plus more than a dozen others.
This short film follows Vincent (Leighton Phair), a young Chinese-Kiwi rescued from a group of racist punks in a spacies parlour by a mysterious Asian (Gary Young), then drawn into a seedy Triad underworld. Vincent is struggling with his identity in a mixed race family. Directors Stuart McKenzie and Neil Pardington wrote the story with playwright Lynda Chanwai-Earle, drawing it from interviews with members of the Chinese community in Wellington and Christchurch. Early 90s Flying Nun bands feature on the score; DJ Mu (future Fat Freddys Drop frontman) cameos as a punk.