New Zealand’s first CGI short film gives “eyes on the road” a new meaning as a pair of eyeballs drive to a mind-bending purgatory. A collaboration between visual effects man John Sheils and his brother Michael, Scream was shot in early 1991; finally 25 minutes of footage was “brutally” edited down to three, and fulsomely scored by John Gibson. The sly ‘based on true events’ title-card nods to the makers’ ambitions to “treat animation like live action.” In 1994 it screened in NZ cinemas as opener to the ILM wizardry of Jim Carrey hit The Mask, followed by a number of overseas festivals.
It's a Wonderful Life meets driver education in this NFU film that aims to scare those who would be careless in bad weather conditions. This now-quaint precursor to 2011's Ghost Chips road safety ad sets up a low-key mystery plot, as five naive unfortunates find themselves at a bus stop in pea-soup fog. Purgatorial befuddlement — the bus goes via 'Infinity Terrace' and a saucy angel is handing out harps — turns to moralizing, complete with flashbacks and a lecture from the weather god, as they discover why they've ended up en route to 'Elysian Fields'.
Producer Larry Parr has had a hand in producing a number of classic New Zealand films, including Sleeping Dogs, Came a Hot Friday and Smash Palace. He has also made forays into directing with Fracture and A Soldier's Tale. After three years as Head of Programming at Māori Television, Parr became Television Manager at Te Māngai Pāho, which funds Māori radio and TV programmes.
In 1996 Tony Sutorius got his hands on a new digital video camera, days before the start of an election campaign in Wellington Central. Made on the proverbial shoestring, this feature-length documentary chronicles five of those battling for the crown as a new political age — MMP — dawns. Richard Prebble joins a new party called Act, the National candidate joins United New Zealand… and one of the five will be sacrificed by their own party. Sutorius sat through 55 hours of footage to forge the result, which won enthused, sellout audiences at the 1999 NZ Film Festival.
The broadcasting career of so-called 'Mr Country Calendar' Frank Torley spanned almost half a century. He worked on the iconic rural series as reporter, producer and narrator, and a number of other programmes besides. In 2002, he was awarded the ONZM for services to broadcasting. Torley died of cancer on 27 March 2016, just weeks after Country Calendar celebrated its 50th year on air.
The second film directed by Tony Sutorius won sellout screenings at the 1999 NZ Film Festival. Feature-length documentary Campaign chronicled an early MMP election campaign. He went on to make a film about trade unionist Helen Kelly. These days Sutorius runs Porirua company Unreal Films, whose diet of educational films encompasses at least nine elections across Australasia.
Robert Sarkies made his first film at age 10. His feature debut was 1999 hit Scarfies, followed by Out of the Blue, an acclaimed dramatisation of the Aramoana murders. Sarkies followed it with TV's This is Not My Life and black comedy Two Little Boys, based on a novel by his brother Duncan. Since then he has directed Moa-nominated TV movie Consent, and multi award-winning Jean Batten biopic Jean.