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.
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.
Christchurch editor, artist and animator Ken Clark turned a childhood passion for magic and monsters into stop motion animation. After making student films, a decade at TVNZ saw him editing staples across news, sport, and children's programming. He also designed titles for After School and CGI for What Now?. Since 1990 Clark has tutored in animation; his shorts have shown in galleries and festivals.
Pat Cox has been bringing television commercials to the screen since the 1970s. As a producer, he was instrumental in turning longrunning comic strip Footrot Flats into an animated feature. Footrot Flats: A Dog's Tale went on to become the most successful New Zealand feature of the 1980s.
Should Clive Sowry ever choose to enter Mastermind, his knowledge of the National Film Unit will give his competitors a definite run for their money. Sowry worked at the government filmmaking organisation for 14 years, including nine as the NFU's archivist. He went on to undertake a programme that saved 100s of local films, and has written often about filmmaking in New Zealand — including for NZ On Screen.