Interview

Esther Stephens: On being a curious — rather than ambitious — actor…

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Actor and singer Esther Stephens made her television debut as Olivia on popular show Go Girls. Since then Stephens has acted on TV both here and across the Tasman, including Westside, When We Go to War, the Kiwi version of Underbelly, and in NZ/Australian co-production 800 Words.

Beyond the Known World

Film, 2017 (Trailer)

Carl (Australian actor David Wenham) and Julie (Sia Trokenheim, from TV series Step Dave) are an estranged couple whose teen daughter Eve has gone missing in India. Their search takes them from Auckland to New Delhi and the Himalayas, where culture clashes and old wounds frustrate their efforts. The film was directed by Indian Pan Nalin (the acclaimed Samsara) and written by Kiwi Dianne Taylor. Known World was the first product of a New Zealand-India co-production treaty. The team of producers includes Kiwis Kristian Eek and Matthew Horrocks. 

Fantail

Film, 2013 (Trailer)

Service station worker Tania (Sophie Henderson) is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman who identifies as Māori, working to take her little bro Pi to Surfer’s to find their Dad. But flitting Pi causes plans to go awry. Directed by Curtis Vowell (his debut) the script was adapted by Henderson from her theatre monologue, and shot in 20 days via the NZFC’s low budget Escalator scheme. The twist on the Hine-nui-te-po myth was a breakout hit of the 2013 NZ Film Festival. NZ Herald critic Dominic Corry raved: “one of the freshest New Zealand films to come along in years”.

Blazed - Drug Driving in Aotearoa

Commercial, 2013 (Full Length)

Two cars, one day: directed by Taika Waititi, this extended public service announcement uses humour to address the dangers of motoring under the influence of marijuana. A trio of tamariki imitate their Dads’ stoned antics, driving home what’s at stake when getting behind the wheel while ‘blazed’. Young Julian Dennison was fresh from his acting debut in Shopping. Waititi later cast him to co-star with Sam Neill in his 2016 hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The advertisement was part of a Clemenger BBDO traffic safety campaign made for the NZ Transport Agency.

Blue

Short Film, 2011 (Full Length)

Blue tells the story of a fallen kids’ television mascot, reduced to working as a waiter in an Asian restaurant. Blue keeps his happy face on as he serves customers food; occasionally he's recognised from his screen fame days, but mostly he's ignored. Then one day bad news arrives. The urban alienation themed film was named Best Short in the Critics' Week section of the Cannes Film Festival, after just 10 films were selected from 1250 entries. Korean-born Stephen Kang moved to New Zealand in 1993; his digital feature Desert was released in Kiwi theatres in 2011. 

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Film, 2016 (Trailer and Excerpts)

Taika Waititi's fourth feature is the tale of a city kid and a grumpy uncle on the run. Raised on hip hop and state care, Ricky (Shopping's Julian Dennison) goes bush with his foster uncle (Sam Neill). The authorities are on their tail. In this excerpt, the pair get caught, and s**t gets real. Wilderpeople is based on Barry Crump book Wild Pork and Watercress. Keen to recapture the style of classic screen yarns like Came a Hot Friday, Waititi's aim was a funny, accessible adventure. The result won acclaim almost everywhere it went, and became New Zealand's biggest ever local hit. 

Newsnight - Rastus the Cat

Television, 1994 (Excerpts)

This excerpt from mid 90s show Newsnight features the extraordinary story of Max Corkill and his motorcycle-riding cat Rastus. After having Rastus dumped on him as a kitten while he was motorcycling around Canada, Max took him along on the road. Quickly becoming comfortable on the bike, Rastus would stand on the handlebars as they drove along. Back in New Zealand, the pair became community favourites, and regularly raised money for the local SPCA. They passed away on 20 January 1998, after being involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.

Pulsing

The Body Electric, Music Video, 1982

Shot in the same year he became producer of Radio With Pictures, Brent Hansen created this gem before going on to become Editor-in-Chief and President of Creative for MTV International. Like a cross between a Kraftwerk gig and an early episode of Dr Who, Pulsing features what must have been particularly exciting special effects, but sadly arrives curiously free of content warnings. The sight of ex-Play School host Tim Bartlett being aurally tortured has lined psychiatrists' pockets for decades.

Jean

Television, 2016 (Trailer and Excerpts)

In the 1930s Kiwi-born pilot Jean Batten set off on a series of legendary solo flights. Jean is the tale of a charismatic, determined woman, the mother who stayed close, and the man curious to unravel the person behind the legend. At the 2017 NZ Television Awards, the ambitious telemovie made a clean sweep, including awards for Donna Malane and Paula Boock's script, director Robert Sarkies, lead actor Kate Elliott, and the design team. In the excerpt — which hints at the story's globetrotting sweep — Jean fights heat and storms while attempting to fly from England to Australia. 

Bungay on Crime - A Ferry Tale (Part One)

Television, 1992 (Full Length)

The “disappearance” of American tourist Milton Harris became one of New Zealand’s most bizarre insurance frauds. Barrister and QC Mike Bungay examines this curious case over two episodes from his series exploring notable criminal investigations. Part one focuses on Harris’ apparent loss overboard from the Cook Strait ferry and strange events during his trip to NZ which aroused the suspicions of Lloyds, who were facing a multi-million dollar claim. Police officers recall the arrest for shoplifting which undid Harris, and his peculiar behaviour in custody.