Hugh Macdonald’s long filmmaking career encompasses historical epics, Oscar-nominated shorts, and lots of time on the road. Macdonald is probably best-known for three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand, which got crowds queueing at World Expo in Japan, before playing for months back home. A two-decade long stint at the National Film Unit also saw him directing two episodes of historical epic The Governor, and producing the first of many animated shorts.
For over 25 years Rod Morris worked with TVNZ’s Natural History Unit and its successor NHNZ, documenting the wildlife of New Zealand. His passion for the natural world lead to his involvement in award-winning documentary series The Black Robin, and Wild South, as well as numerous one-off documentaries including The Devil’s Playground, Wild Asia, Ghosts of Gondwana and Dragons of Komodo. Since leaving NHNZ, Morris has worked on many wildlife books.
Angela Bloomfield made a splash on Shortland Street when she first joined the show as messed up teenager Rachel McKenna. Over her long stint on the series, her character has battled bulimia, survived a lightning strike and recovered from alcoholism. Once voted NZ’s sexiest TV star, she has acted in the films Bonjour Timothy and Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners, and appeared in the TV shows Ride with the Devil, and Dancing with the Stars. As well as acting, Bloomfield has directed episodes of Shortland Street, Jackson’s Wharf and Go Girls.
One morning, as kids are stealing apples from an old man’s orchard high above a seaside town, an earthquake hits. No one is hurt, and the townsfolk are non-plussed, but the old man is agitated: he alone is aware of the imminent tsunami and tries to warn the village. Based on a classic Japanese fable, The Orchard was made by one-man band Bob Stenhouse, who had been nominated for an Academy Award the previous decade for pioneer tale The Frog, The Dog and The Devil. Fans of the animator will recognise the lush, luminous hand-drawn style.
Matt Heath and Chris Stapp’s grungey rockers Deja Voodoo began life as a fictional house band in brief segments of the pair's tasteless TV show Down the Back of the Y. The offer of a university Orientation tour encouraged them to take their mock rock creation more seriously and actually become a real band (albeit one that smashed burning acoustic guitars over Stapp’s head for an encore). Three albums followed, and they featured extensively on the soundtrack to Stapp and Heath’s film The Devil Dared Me To.
This episode of Koha is an examination of the Māori feature film industry, from the pioneers of the silent era up to feature film Mauri. Reflection on international screenings of groundbreaking feature Ngati frames interviews with Witarina Harris, Ramai Hayward, Barry Barclay, Wi Kuki Kaa and Merata Mita. Barclay talks of the importance of Māori telling Māori stories. “We’ve seen heaps of pictures of cowboys and Indians eh, but they’re always made by the cowboys.” Includes footage of The Devil’s Pit, Rewi's Last Stand, Ngati, The Governor, and Mauri.
For this stylishly shot video, the ghosts of Goodnight Nurse rise from their coffins to perform a song about obsession, and dancing with the Devil. Reflecting the band's own obsession with horror imagery, the setting is a moon-lit hillside, surrounded by gravestones. The video won Best Rock Video at the 2005 Juice TV Awards, and was a finalist for Video of the Year. After the group's passing, each player stayed involved in music; lead vocalist Joel Little would rise up again to co-write Lorde's Grammy award-winning hit Royals. Director Jonathan Gerrard remembers making the video here.
This short animated comedy offers up a pre-Wellywood tale of Hollywood coming down under. In the fictional West Coast town of Whatawhopa, a horror movie film crew has arrived to take advantage of the town's persistent rain. When the forecast fails, the town’s lazy fire fighters — “burning and yearning for a fire”— are finally sparked into action. The National Film Unit production was directed by Bob Stenhouse (Oscar-nominated for The Frog, the Dog and the Devil) who is clearly relishing the chance to go to town on scenes of rain, lightning, fire and monsters with droopy eyes.
This animated short follows a film editor being driven around the bend by the domino effect of various intrusions, which prevent him from getting on with his work. Animator Bob Stenhouse (later Oscar-nominated for The Frog, The Dog and The Devil) dramatises the challenge of maintaining creative focus while facing Kafkaesque bureaucracy, noisy interruptions and form-filling. Aside from exploring the psychology of creativity, the short is also a primer for how productions were edited in the pre-digital age: showing film physically cut and pasted together with a splicer.
Tattoo explores the love-hate relationship many people have with this form of permanent body art. Stories range from those who are about to get a tattoo and those who are living with theirs, to those who want their tattoos removed altogether. The doco explores the devil-may-care approach of a tattoo virgin, as well as the quiet reflection of a tattoo veteran going through the long and painful removal process. Tattoo played in TV3's Inside New Zealand series.