Jeff Hurrell grew up in the Hutt Valley; as a child he caught trains into Wellington City to watch Dr Dolittle, The Towering Inferno and the latest James Bond in “fading, epic, architectural movie palaces” like The Majestic and The Cinerama.
A gap year travelling in the Americas was followed by a BA in theatre and Film at Victoria University, studying under Russell Campbell.
Hurrell begun experimenting with editing on a Super 8 viewer and splicer, projecting shots that he accompanied with music from a record player. While at university he convinced his father to buy him his first edit suite: an ex-NZ Army U-matic Lo-Band.
An extracurricular job while studying saw Hurrell working as film handler for the Wellington Film Society. He used the telecine that came with the edit suite to transfer films (including Len Lye clips) to U-matic tape, which he would vision mix live for warehouse dance parties. This led to gigs live-mixing for bands from Tackhead, to Lee Scratch Perry, The Muttonbirds and Bailter Space.
After leaving Victoria in 1994 Hurrell soon graduated to an A/B roll Beta SP editing suite, which he used to cut the first of many music videos. The first short film he edited (excavation tale The Hole) was invited to the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival. Soon after — with Hurrell now working on an Avid edit suite — he met prolific documentary maker Bryan Bruce, and began a long-running collaboration.
Bruce initiated Hurrell into documentary and TV work (starting with NZ TV Award nominee The Trouble with Ben and travel show Wild About New Zealand). Since then they have worked together on Jesus: the Cold Case, Inside Child Poverty and Mind the Gap, among others. Hurrell rates the three seasons of Bruce’s real-life crime series The Investigator as some of his most challenging assignments: “The reenactments were of real murders, so it took a lot of professionalism to handle.”
Hurrell also has a longtime partnership with actor turned director Julian Arahanga, cutting together docos on World War I airman William Rhodes-Moorhouse and WWII Māori flying ace John Pohe, plus a TV series on the healing power of music in prisons (the acclaimed Songs from the Inside).
He has worked with many tyro directors, stitching up their explorations of the medium in a run of short films. He went on to edit the feature debuts of two of those shorts' directors: Nazi horror The Devil’s Rock (directed by Paul Campion) and metalhead zombie mash-up Deathgasm (helmed by Jason Lei Howden). Hurrell had earlier edited Campion’s short Eel Girl and Lei Howden’s The Light Harvester. In 2012 Hurrell was awarded Best Editor at festival Show Me Shorts for Sam Kelly’s Lambs, a Berlin-selected short film about a teen torn between loyalty and self.
Having worked across such a catholic range of screen forms and subjects, Hurrell argues that each has their place. But he has a special love for feature films, and the challenges they present for creating "a powerful and seamless reality" out of a series of disparate shots. Hurrell’s motto when tackling an editorial problem? “If you can't solve it, dissolve it…”
Martin Square website (Broken link). Accessed 10 September 2015
'Jeff Hurrell' IMDB website. Accessed 10 September 2015