Cuckoo land episode 2 key image

Cuckoo Land - The Neighbour (Episode Two)

Television, 1985 (Full Length)

Petunia and her daughters Patch and Polly have moved into their decidedly unconventional dream house in the second episode of this surreal children's fantasy drama written by Margaret Mahy and directed by Yvonne McKay. Their idyllic new life of music making is soon shattered by their home handyman neighbour from hell Branchy (Grant Tilly). But he has problems of his own with the unwelcome arrival of his three long lost, grasping and perpetually hungry sons. Special guest Jon Gadsby contributes an energetic performance as pie magnate Chicken Licken.

Cuckoo land episode 1 key image

Cuckoo Land - The House (First Episode)

Television, 1985 (Full Length)

Musician Petunia (Jennifer Ludlam) and daughters Polly and Patch are tiring of their lives as land yachting "gypsies of the motorway" in the first episode of this hyperactive children's fantasy drama written by Margaret Mahy. Their salvation could be a magic house owned by Crocodile Crosby — a used car dealer with ambitions to be a pirate — but a devious land agent (Michael Wilson) and a dastardly wealthy couple stand in the way. All powerful narrator Paul Holmes orchestrates the action which features extensive use of music and period video special effects.

10504.thumb
Series

Cuckoo Land

Television, 1985

Heavily influenced by the mid-80s MTV-led music video boom, this madcap six part kids fantasy series focuses on an aspiring songwriter and her daughters who renounce life on a land yacht to settle in a house with a mind of its own. Based on scripts by acclaimed author Margaret Mahy (in her first collaboration with director Yvonne Mackay), it utilises then cutting edge video special effects (requiring locked off shots and no camera movement). The soundtrack is by composer Jenny McLeod while Paul Holmes' narrator is omnipotent and petulant in equal parts.

5455.key

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.

292.thumb

The Haunting of Barney Palmer

Television, 1986 (Full Length)

The Haunting of Barney Palmer is a fantasy film for children about a young boy who is haunted by his great uncle. Young Barney fears that he has inherited the Scholar family curse; a suite of 80s-era effects ramp up the supernatural suspense. The film was a co-production between PBS (United States) and Wellington's Gibson Group, which resulted in Ned Beatty (Deliverance, Network) being cast. It was written by Margaret Mahy, based on her Carnegie Award-winning novel The Haunting, and an early fruitful collaboration between her and director Yvonne Mackay.

Black hearted barney blackfoot key image

Blackhearted Barney Blackfoot

Short Film, 1980 (Full Length)

Barney Blackfoot (Ian Watkin) is a mean stepfather who married Billy and Lucy's mother under false pretenses, later revealing his evil nature. Barney is helped in his exploits by his friend (a moving wardrobe), and together they set out to destroy Lucy and Billy's happy home. Designed in soft sculpture (Cabbage Patch Kids style) and filmed in live action with special effects, this Yvonne Mackay-directed short film is aimed at children and is without dialogue or narration. The early Gibson Group film was scripted by Ian Mune and scored by Jack Body.

5.thumb

A Tall Long Faced Tale

Television, 2008 (Excerpts)

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.

Yvonne mckay key profile.jpg.180x180

Yvonne Mackay

Director

Yvonne Mackay is a prolific director of New Zealand television, whose work has often focused on the arts and projects made for young people. She made history as the director of The Silent One (1984), the first New Zealand feature film directed solely by a woman. These days Mackay runs Wellington company Production Shed TV.

Peter read thumbnail.key.jpg.180x180

Peter Read

Camera

Peter Read began his screen career in 1968 at the NZ Broadcasting Corporation, as a trainee editor in his hometown of Christchurch. He decided camera operators had more fun, so after an OE to London and a move to Wellington he became a camera operator. Read worked on a wide variety of shows from lifestyle (Country Calendar) to drama (Cuckoo Land) and commercials. Read passed away on  21 June 2018.

Margaret mahy profile image.jpg.180x180

Margaret Mahy

Author

Margaret Mahy was a renowned author of children's books who also wrote for television. Amongst her many international awards is the Hans Christian Andersen Award (known as the Little Nobel Prize) for a "lasting contribution to children's literature". A highly  visual writer, Mahy both wrote for the screen (Maddigan's Quest, Strangers), and her books inspired a number of programmes. She passed away on 23 July 2012.