The work of promising filmmaker Cameron Duncan was seen internationally, after two of his short films were included on an international DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Son of Auckland cinematographer Rhys Duncan, Cameron continued to make films while battling cancer. He passed away on 12 November 2003, aged 17.
This episode of arts show Frontseat visits the inaugural edition of the Māori Film Festival in Wairoa, with Ramai Hayward and Merata Mita making star turns, alongside a tribute to teenage filmmaker Cameron Duncan. Elsewhere, Deborah Smith and Marti Friedlander korero about their She Said exhibition, and about photographing kids and staging reality; and Auckland’s St Matthew in the City showcases spiritual sculpture. A ‘where are they now’ piece catches up with Val Irwin, star of Ramai and Rudall Hayward's interracial romance To Love a Māori (1972).
Cameron Duncan wrote, directed and starred in this short film, the same year a lump in his knee turned out to be cancerous. Aged only 16, Duncan had already showcased his filmmaking talents on a series of award-winning short pieces made for Fair Go's annual programme devoted to commercials. With DFK6498, he channels his recent experiences into a short, stylishly-shot memoir of incarceration, frustration and freedom lost. The film went on to win a trio of awards at Wanganui's River City Film Festival and win praise from director Peter Jackson.
Featuring cameos from numerous softball legends (including the late Kevin Herlihy), Strike Zone is a love letter to the game from late director and New Zealand under-16 pitcher Cameron Duncan. Duncan stars as a dying coach trying to motivate his team to win a key game. The messages of teamwork and not giving up are made more poignant by the many real life parallels: during filming torrential rain turned the diamond into a quagmire, and Strike Zone's teen director, himself stricken by cancer, almost died on set, before going on to compere the film's premiere.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.
The Governor was a six-part TV epic that examined the life of Governor George Grey (Corin Redgrave). This episode arguably best lived up to the blockbuster scale and revisionist ambitions of the series. It depicts key battles of the 1863-64 Waikato Campaign (including ‘Rewi’s last stand’ at Ōrākau). General Sir Duncan Cameron (Martyn Sanderson) feels growing unease following Grey’s orders to evict Māori villagers, as he learns respect for his foe, and that Grey’s motives are driven not just by the urge to impose order on ‘the natives’ but by hunger for land.
Known as "the guy who shoots the rugby", Rhys Duncan filmed 21 games from the 2011 World Cup alone. After getting the film bug early, he passed it to his son Cameron Duncan. In the 90s Rhys began specialising with the floating Steadicam camera, both for sports and movies (Whale Rider). His credits as camera operator include work on River Queen and King Kong. He was also cinematographer on 2009's I'm Not Harry Jenson.
Jemaine Clement is the bespectacled half of folk-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, who achieved international cult status in their own HBO series. Clement's screen career began after he appeared on 90s sketch shows Telly Laughs and Skitz. Following his big screen debut in Tongan Ninja, he starred in misfit romance Eagle vs Shark. In 2014 he co-directed and acted in hit vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows.