Collection

Thirty Years of Three

Curated by NZ On Screen team

November 2019 marks 30 years since New Zealand television’s third channel first went to air. As this collection makes clear, the channel has highlighted a wide range of local content, from genre-stretching drama (Outrageous Fortune, The Almighty Johnsons) to upstart news shows (Nightline), youth programming (Ice TV, Being Eve) and many landmarks of Kiwi screen comedy (7 Days, bro’Town, Pulp Comedy). As the launch slogan said, "come home to the feeling!" In this background piece, Phil Wakefield ranges from across the years, from early days to awards triumph in 2019.  

First Contact

Short Film, 2010 (Full Length)

This live-action CGI short attempts to find the answer as to why UFO sightings have been in decline recently. The truth is indeed out there, but in this sci-fi spoof, it turns out to be the result of alien bureaucratic cover-ups, outsourcing and an unorthodox use of space probes. The film was made by students in the 3D Productions course that director James Cunningham teaches at Media Design School — a one day green screen shoot, 14 weeks of post-production. Written by Nick Ward, First Contact won selection to computer graphics conference SIGGRAPH 2011.

As You Command

Short Film, 2018 (Full Length)

In the middle of a decidedly average day, a house painter (The End of the Golden Weather's Stephen Papps) discovers an old flask in a hole in the wall. This short film, written and directed by James Cunningham and brought to life by 28 of his students at the Media and Design School, explores the idea of wish fufilment. The painter gets a great deal on the usual three wish limit from a blue genie with a Scottish accent, and samples a list of childhood dreams, including fighting fires, racing cars and photographing dinosaurs in the wild. All offer chances to showcase some CGI magic.

Rotting Hill

Short Film, 2011 (Full Length)

This gleefully violent "zombie romcom" is another offering from Auckland's Media Design School, where 3D CGI students collaborate with their tutor, director James Cunningham, and industry veterans. Based on an idea from course grad Philip Magnussen, Rotting Hill sees two lovers — played by Anna Hutchison (Go Girls, The Cabin in the Woods) and Australian actor Jason Smith (Home and Away) — finding that "true love never dies" in a post-human future. The short has netted over one million views on Vimeo. Keep tissues handy: you may shed a tear ... or maybe an eyeball.

Escargore

Short Film, 2015 (Full Length)

The kitchen might seem an ordinary place to most, but if you’re a snail like the ones in this short film, untold horrors await. When five snails accidentally find themselves in a salad, they must embark on a great escape, and race — as quick as is realistically possible — toward the relative safety of the outside world. Fate, it seems, has other plans. Escargore features the work of 22 third-year students at Auckland’s Media Design School, and was directed and co-written by lecturer Oliver Hilbert. The short won Best Character at the 2015 Animago Awards in Germany.

Das Tub

Short Film, 2009 (Full Length)

Das Tub kickstarted an award-winning run of CGI short films for Media Design School students working under their 3D animation tutor, director James Cunningham. Part live-action, part CGI, its tale of a German U-boat crew facing danger under the ocean pays homage to submarine classic Das Boot — before a Pythonesque twist which features a cameo from writer Nick Ward. Short, sharp and lovingly rendered, the film won 'best short short' at the 2011 Aspen Shortsfest, while Cunningham (Poppy, Infection) took Best Director at the Honolulu Film Awards.

Time for Change

Short Film, 2010 (Full Length)

The adage that in a long-term relationship things can get a little like clockwork is given a twist in Time for Change. A simmering spousal feud between two wooden figurines on the town clock of an Austrian village, comes to a head with unexpected results. Lederhosen, accordions, and desire for a young blonde are oiled with a keen sense of black humour. Made by students in the 3D course that director James Cunningham teaches at Media Design School, the film won viewers online, selection for SIGGRAPH, and a Big Kahuna (best animation) at the Honolulu Film Awards.

Accidents, Blunders and Calamities

Short Film, 2015 (Full Length)

This morbidly funny short, made by students of Auckland's Media Design School, depicts the demise of 26 alphabetical and animated animals at the hands of nature’s greatest enemy — the human. Framed as a father possum (Phil Greeves) reading his children their favourite bedtime story, the alliterative animal deaths are undercut with cheerful giggling from the two young possums. The film won acclaim at festivals worldwide —screening at South by Southwest in 2016, and taking out Best Animated film in the Comic-Con Film Festival later that year.

Dr Grordbort Presents: The Deadliest Game

Short Film, 2011 (Full Length)

Armed with his trusty ray gun and protected by his pith helmet Lord Broadforce's exotic species search on an alien planet is going swimmingly — until the dame gets colonial angst. The short is based on the sci-fi world of Dr Grordbort created by Weta Workshop's Greg Broadmore (designer on District 9), in which Victorian steampunk meets alien trophy hunting. The live action-CGI film was created over 22 weeks by 11 students of the Media Design School's 3D animation programme, under the direction of James Cunningham. Broadmore followed with a Grordbort video game in 2018.

The Dragon's Scale

Short Film, 2017 (Full Length)

In this animated short from Auckland's Media Design School, a father and son travel through a magical landscape to find a powerful, wish granting dragon who can fix the boy's stammer. But nature conspires against the father, and the dragon's answer to the boy's request adds a nice twist to the tale. Media Design School lecturer James Cunningham wrote the script, and was granted his own wish from local iwi to film The Dragon's Scale in the dramatic landscapes of Tarawera National Park. The film premiered at the Auckland leg of the 2016 NZ International Film Festival.