This film tells the story of the world’s rarest wading bird, the black stilt (kakī). With its precise beak and long pink legs the stilt is superbly adapted to the stony braided riverbeads of the McKenzie Country, but it is tragically unable to deal with new threats (rats, ferrets, habitat loss). An early doco for TVNZ’s Natural History Unit, the magnificently filmed drama of the stilt’s struggle for survival makes it “stand out as a classic of its genre” (Russell Campbell). It won the Gold Award at New York’s International Film & TV Festival (1984).
Andrew Adamson, NZOM, began his career at Auckland computer animation company The Mouse that Roared. After moving to the States and working in visual effects, he won fame in 2001 after co-directing Shrek, the first film to win an Academy Award for best animated feature. Adamson has returned home to shoot the first two installments of the Chronicles of Narnia, followed by Lloyd Jones novel Mister Pip.
Bob Stenhouse, the first Kiwi animator to be nominated for an Academy Award, spent 12 years working for state television. After joining the Government’s National Film Unit in 1980, he made Oscar-nominated short The Frog, The Dog and the Devil. Stenhouse’s later films have included several Joy Cowley short stories, plus award-winning short The Orchard, a Japanese fable adapted to a New Zealand setting.
The idea that New Zealanders often take for granted the depth of talent in the local screen industry is well illustrated by the career of Flux Animation founder Brent Chambers. Most Kiwis would have seen at least one example of his prolific output, yet few would be able to put a face or a name to his work. Chambers was tireless in building a competitive and viable international business, with a distinct local identity.
Trevor Spitz, who died in March 2012, was a key player in the 1989 launch of channel TV3. The musician turned promoter had begun working in television in the 70s as a talent scout and producer of entertainment shows, and won success — and controversy — with hit television export That's Country. He was influential in the careers of many performers, including comedic duo McPhail and Gadsby and singer Suzanne Prentice.
Sandy Houston's career in animation and visual effects has involved 70 plus movie projects — including animated classic Watership Down, visual effects landmark Jurassic Park, and Oscar-winners The Return of the King and King Kong. Along the way she has been on hand to watch computers become key tools in creating screen illusion.
Working with his brother Phill, Jeff Simmonds has created a run of quirky ‘documation’ films, which retell real-life stories using traditional 2D-style animation. The films from the SPADA 2006 New Filmmaker of the Year (shared with Phill) include family history tale A Very Nice Honeymoon and disintegrating band chronicle The Paselode Story.
Karl Urban's screen career has included dysfunctional family comedies, epic fantasies and offbeat romances — and that's only the Kiwi projects. Urban was award-nominated for films The Price of Milk and The Irrefutable Truth about Demons, and won for Out of the Blue. In recent years he has appeared in a run of Hollywood projects, including The Bourne Supremacy, Star Trek, and as Judge Dredd in Dredd 3D.
Simon Price grew up in Dunedin. Named most innovative graduate at Melbourne's VCA Film School, he worked in Australia for many years as a writer/director, editor and video artist before returning home to help edit King Kong. Price's feature editing credits have since included Blackspot, landmark Samoan drama The Orator, Cambodian-set fable Ruin, Pā Boys, and docos Last Men Standing and Antarctica: A Year On Ice.
David McPhail's television resume is that of a genuine stayer. Working with Jon Gadsby, his longtime comic partner in crime, McPhail co-starred — and famously impersonated Sir Rob Muldoon — in landmark sketch shows A Week of It and McPhail and Gadsby. Later he helped create the Barry Crump-style yarns of Letter to Blanchy, and was the no-nonsense teacher in the acclaimed Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby.