Interview

Sandy Houston: Dinosaurs, dalmatians and a cat called Koko...

Camera and Editing – Jess Charlton

The globetrotting Sandy Houston began her career in animation and visual effects, after she left New Zealand for London. In the 90s she joined powerhouse American effects company ILM and Walt Disney Pictures, then Weta Digital in 2003. En route, she worked on a number of landmark films in modern visual effects, including Jurassic Park, the Oscar-winning Avatar, and Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong.

Freaky - First Episode

Television, 2003 (Full Length)

Anthology series Freaky set out to scare its young audience each week with three tales of terror and the fantastic. This first episode includes a pair of cautionary tales, and a cannibal story straight from a horror film. The first story sees a boy ignoring a warning sign on a broken waterslide, and ending up lost in a prehistoric jungle. The second features a girl in biology class learning worrying news about a teacher and fellow pupil. The last story involves a teenager who wishes for her own personalised radio station, and gets more than she bargains for.

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.

Open Home - First Episode

Television, 1992 (Full Length Episode)

This TVNZ ‘home show’ explores 90s grand designs and their architects, renovation dilemmas and Kiwi personalities in their houses. This debut episode is presented by actor Jennifer Ward-Lealand and builder (and future Dunedin mayor) Dave Cull. Ward-Lealand visits architect Roger Walker in his pastel pink and green Tinakori Road home, intros a “70s Cinderella” bathroom do-up, and drops in on DJ Kevin Black’s arts and crafts-style mariner’s cottage. Cull tests a non-stick frying pan and a barn house. Date stamps include denim shirts and a saxophone theme tune.

Outer Space

The 3Ds, Music Video, 1992

Nearly two decades before Mighty Boosh comes this loopy confection. With its missing visage line "I left my face, in outer space" you know this is going to be one trippy song — and the wild and spacey video is totally in keeping with the track. There’s UFO imagery and all sorts of other mad things thrown in, including a dinosaur skeleton and a vacuum cleaner played like a guitar. And it must be one of the few music videos to feature a band member wearing a peggy squares crochet poncho. The clip won Best Music Video at the 1993 NZ Music Awards.

King Kong

Film, 2005 (Trailer)

Peter Jackson's love affair with moviemaking and special effects was ignited by seeing the original King Kong (1933) as a child. Jackson's Kiwi-shot remake takes one of cinema's most iconic monster movies, retains the 30s setting and iconic New York finale, and toughens up the "beauty" (Naomi Watts). The film also transforms the male (non-ape) lead from lunkhead to sensitive playwright (Adrien Brody). Exhilarating, Oscar-winning CGI brings the great ape to life, alongside rampaging dinosaurs, and oversized wētā inexplicably absent from the maligned 1976 remake.

Our World: The Best Kept Secret - Whirinaki Forest

Television, 1984 (Full Length)

In this episode of the long-running nature programming slot on TV One, naturalist David Bellamy visits New Zealand’s “dinosaur forest” — Whirinaki. Bellamy brings his famed nature-boy enthusiasm to “a living cathedral that dates back 200 million years”. He explores the North Island forest’s “big five”: 60m+ rimu, mataī, kahikatea, miro and tōtara trees; and the ecosystem that they reign over, from kākā parrots to giant tree ferns. The intro is by Gael Ludlow and features the fondly-remembered Jean Michel Jarre synthpop track that was Our World’s signature.

Pulp Comedy - Series Five, Episode Three (Rhys Darby)

Television, 2000 (Full Length Episode)

In this episode from the stand-up comedy TV series Rhys Darby (prior to his association with Flight of the Conchords) steals the show: a very limber tyrannosaurus rex impression animates a surreal tale about taking his grandfather to the movies that results in dinosaurs running amok in Auckland's Queen Street. Elsewhere, Mike Loder's conclusion that no disgrace could lead to Tiger Woods losing his sponsorship deals, and Justine Smith's opinion that her hometown of Christchurch is rather lacking in excitement may not have quite stood the test of time.  

Interview

Simone Kessell: Acting at home and abroad...

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Simone Kessell first appeared on screen playing Hannah Tumai on short-lived soap Homeward Bound. She acted in both Hercules and Xena before being cast as a TV journalist on Cover Story, and as the lead in period drama Greenstone. Kessell has worked in both America and Australia, and appeared in Aussie dramas Underbelly and Wonderland.

Series

Moa's Ark

Television, 1990

Why is New Zealand's landscape and flora and fauna so unique? In four-part series Moa's Ark, renowned English naturalist David Bellamy, with his impassioned enthusiasm and trademark beard (of "old man's beard must go" fame) goes on a journey to discover the answer. Directed and produced by Peter Hayden, this 1990 TV series was produced by Television New Zealand's award-winning Natural History Unit (now independent production company NHNZ). Read more about the series here.