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”.
Described by writer/director Paolo Rotondo as a “drama about how adults need kids as much as kids need adults”, Orphans & Kingdoms follows three teens on the run, who break into a holiday home to hide out. Then the owner (Colin Moy, who played the brother of the main character in In My Father’s Den) arrives home, followed by the police. Shot on Waiheke Island, the low-budget Escalator film had a sell-out world premiere at the 2014 Auckland Film Festival, before winning a Moa award for best editing. Best known as an actor, Rotondo won awards for writing short film Dead Letters.
In writer/director Max Currie’s debut feature, a magician conjures his greatest illusion – a little boy – to try to help return happiness to his wife and family after the loss of their son. But the trick falls apart when a child abduction hunt closes in on them. Everything We Loved was funded through the NZ Film Commission’s Escalator film scheme, and produced by Tom Hern (The Dark Horse, I’m Not Harry Jenson) and Luke Robinson. It was chosen for the ‘New Voices/New Visions’ section of the Palm Springs Film Festival and premieres locally at the 2014 International Film Festival.
The first film from Guy Pigden and Harley Neville featured midget zombies in graveyards. Fifteen years later their debut feature was born, with another on the way. I Survived a Zombie Holocaust is the tale of a horror movie in which the zombie extras turn into real-life zombies. Shot in Dunedin as part of the low-budget Escalator scheme, the horror comedy aims to pay tribute to classic zombie movies, while adding fresh twists. The result was given a multi-platform release after good reactions overseas, with viewers able to arrange a local cinema screening through website Tugg.
Elam graduate Paul Swadel showed his eye for the artistic and the eyecatching both in his own award-winning work as a director — short films, arts programmes (Colin McCahon: I Am), commercials — and as producer: through collaborations with animator James Cunningham and on digi-feature incubator Headstrong. Swadel died in March 2016.
Producer Mhairead Connor's career encompasses a stint at production company Sticky Pictures (where she wrangled the creatives on acclaimed arts show The Gravy), and two features: drama Little Bits of Light, and science fiction tale Existence.