Paul Sutorius has been nominated for editing awards on so many Kiwi film and TV productions, it is a wonder he has ever found time to leave the edit suite to make it to the awards podium.
Sutorius (the word is latin for 'shoemaker') began his long editing career in 1969 at the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, the forerunner to TVNZ. Given the beginner's job of splicing advertisements into television programmes, he made such a hash of it that the powers that be decided it was safer to move him around the editing team, assisting where he could.
One of those editors was future Lord of the Rings editor Mike Horton. It was Horton who gave Sutorius the chance to prove himself, by turning a particularly uninspiring pile of documentary footage into something useful. Sutorius would go on to edit for a run of documentary and current affairs shows, from Gallery and Survey on to Eyewitness and Close Up.
His first drama was in 1971, with the 'Charlie's Rock' episode of pioneering small town series Pukemanu. Episodes of depression-era drama The Longest Winter followed. By 1976 Sutorius had reached the point where he was entrusted with editing an episode (the third) of the most ambitious productions New Zealand TV had then attempted: historical epic The Governor.
But the 80s was the decade when things really took off for Sutorius. His TVNZ employers allowed him to take leave without pay to work on independent projects. As a result he was able to contribute to an impressive list of quality television work, while dangling his toes in feature films. The TV projects included acclaimed Maurice Gee series The Fire-Raiser, episodes of Roche, and the pilot of cop classic Mortimer's Patch.
Sutorius began expanding into feature films thanks to his work with Levin-based filmmaker Mike Walker. The pair collaborated on a trio of films inspired by - and utilising the acting talents of - members of a local boys training centre. The first was the 47 minute Kingi's Story, made after incoming TVNZ drama head Ross Jennings was won over by the script, and the screen test of training centre inmate Mitchell Manuel. In 1984, Kingi's Story led to Sutorius' first feature film job: editing acclaimed borstal drama Kingpin, which also featured Mitchell Manuel in a starring role. Road movie Mark II followed for television.
In 1987 Sutorius was one of a number of TVNZ employees taking a holiday pass from Avalon to work on madcap feature film Send a Gorilla. It was a complex job for any editor: the comedy about a day in the life of a gorilla-gram company involved roughly 1600 shots, and more than 50 speaking parts.
Two years later Sutorius finally left his position at TVNZ; coincidentally at around the same time he began a longstanding collaboration with Gaylene Preston. He did so in fine style, scoring a NZ Film and Television Award for his work on Preston's second feature Ruby and Rata, a chalk and cheese tale of a young Māori woman, her son, and an elderly Pākēha woman.
Sutorius and Preston would do impressive work together on projects ranging from ambitious TV period drama Bread and Roses and award-winning doco War Stories, to fly-on-the-wall Te Papa chronicle Getting to Our Place (which won him another editing award).
The 90s saw Sutorius juggling genres and media: from children's TV (A Twist in the Tale) and sketch comedy (Public Eye) to road movies (Absent Without Leave), detective shows (Duggan) and ambitious docu-dramas (Lange mini-series Fallout). He was also increasingly contributing his skills to independently-made documentaries.
As the millennium turned, Sutorius found his talents being courted (and award-nominated) by a new generation. He joined Skitz director Glenn Standring to help up the suspense on Standring's feature debut, all-in-one-night chiller Irrefutable Truth about Demons. Sutorius followed it by editing crime drama For Good, and starting work on a run of innovative 20-something TV dramas, including The Insiders Guides to Love and Happiness.
Documentary Aspiring would score Sutorius a further award in 2006, the same year he was nominated for the second series of Insiders Guide. Three years later Paul Sutorius joined the stampede to the Qantas Awards podium by the team who worked on tele-movie Until Proven Innocent, based on the wrongful conviction of David Dougherty. In 2011 he would join many of the same team as editor of true story tele-movie Tangiwai- A Love Story.