Animated plasticine. Talking chickens. Dancing Cossacks. Plus old favourites bro'Town, Hairy Maclary and Footrot Flats. From Len Lye to Gollum, feast on the talents of Kiwi animators. In his backgrounder to the Animation Collection, NZ On Screen's Ian Pryor provides handy pathways through the frogs, dogs and stop motion shenanigans.
In 1986 Footrot Flats: The Dog's (Tail) Tale and its theme song ‘Slice of Heaven’ were huge hits in New Zealand and Australia. The adaptation of Murray Ball's beloved Footrot Flats comic strip marked Aotearoa's first animated feature. There were a lot of big questions to answer: Will Wal become an All Black? Will Cooch recover his stolen stag? Will the Dog win your hearts and funny bones? Punters answered at the box office. This John Toon-shot trailer doubled as a promo for the Dave Dobbyn-Herbs song, and smartly leveraged both. Tony Hiles writes about the film's making here.
In this documentary children's author Margaret Mahy is interviewed at her Governors Bay home by friend and fellow author Elizabeth Knox. Many of Mahy's beloved storybook characters also appear to put her on the spot about their origins. In this excerpt, the famous lion from A Lion in the Meadow thanks her for making him yellow, and Mahy talks about eating porridge thrice a day as a young solo mum. Yvonne Mackay directed this seamless mix of real life and Euan Frizzell-created animation. Read more about the doucmentary here.
Robert Rakete is a popular TV and radio host, and actor. His first acting role was on the kidult show Sea Urchins, which was followed by roles in Mortimer’s Patch and Loose Enz: The Protesters. Rakete has hosted or appeared in a range of TV shows, from music programmes CV and RTR, to Clash of the Codes and What Now? In 2014 he was invited to join the Australian children’s group The Wiggles for some guest appearances.
With character names befitting an episode of Country Calendar, there’s something distinctly Kiwi about this animated children's show. This episode sees Murray the farmer take his friendly tractor Massey Ferguson out to the swamp for duck-hunting season. But things go awry when Massey backfires, scaring the ducks away. Back at the farm, Massey and his farm vehicle friends have to solve the problem. The culprit 's apology leads to another opportunity for Kiwi flavour. The apology: “Sorry mate”.
Rosemary McLeod devised sitcom All Things Being Equal and iconic 80s TV soap Gloss. Best-known for her outspoken columns, she talks in this extended Funny As interview about battling sexism in the 1970s, and more, including: Gloss being the most fun she had in her television career, and laughing uncontrollably with producer Janice Finn Being told her voice was too deep for the radio, because it would "make men think of bedrooms" Falling into journalism after submitting a piece to the Sunday Times about a weird weekend spent with hippies Memories — comedic and emotional — of her time in Australia writing and script editing sitcoms for the ABC Hating women being portrayed as passive and witless in 1970s TV comedies, which motivated her to write more complex parts (e.g. Ginette McDonald's character in sitcom All Things Being Equal) Finding her schtick of "offending and annoying" people, when she started writing and cartooning about feminists in The Listener
Artist Tanja Thompson, aka Misery, joins her Mum Rochelle to take a magical tour of Tanja's life — from childhood and time as a graffiti artist, to the rise of her art, fashion and toy empire. In the second excerpt, Misery leaves her boutique next to Illicit Clothing in K' Road, and visits the Taipei Toy Festival to unveil her 3D characters. She also shows us animated footage inspired by them. Mark Albiston made the documentary for arts slot Artsville, after featuring Misery on his own arts show The Living Room. It won Best Arts/Festival Documentary award at the 2006 Qantas TV awards.
Chic Littlewood’s afterschool show for children featured skits performed by Chic and his puppets to link cartoons and other overseas programming. Chic should be in control — but the real star here is the somewhat wayward Willie McNabb (from a Scottish family of mice courtesy of Auckland theatre doyenne Alma Woods). Chic and Willie are never quite on the same wavelength — and Chic’s Gramps character has even less chance of matching wits with him. Mother McNabb appears briefly — while the apparently ogre-like producer is an ominous but unseen presence.
Alongside his brother Jeff, Phill Simmonds has created a run of quirky short films, which utilise traditional animation to retell real-life stories. The films from the SPADA 2006 New Filmmaker of the Year (shared with Jeff) include family history tale A Very Nice Honeymoon and bickering band chronicle The Paselode Story. His latest project is an animated feature film based on Parihaka.
Actor Frank Whitten first won attention in 1984, playing the enigmatic farmer in Vincent Ward's breakthrough feature Vigil. Later he was known to many for his role as the Southern Man in the Speights "onya mate" commercials, and his ongoing appearances in Outrageous Fortune, playing the manipulative grandfather to the West clan. He died in February 2011.