New Zealand’s first CGI short film gives “eyes on the road” a new meaning as a pair of eyeballs drive to a mind-bending purgatory. A collaboration between visual effects man John Sheils and his brother Michael, Scream was shot in early 1991; finally 25 minutes of footage was “brutally” edited down to three, and fulsomely scored by John Gibson. The sly ‘based on true events’ title-card nods to the makers’ ambitions to “treat animation like live action.” In 1994 it screened in NZ cinemas as opener to the ILM wizardry of Jim Carrey hit The Mask, followed by a number of overseas festivals.
Each episode of this kids horror series features three ‘curse busting’ stories. In this first episode, student Jack Williams traces the curse back to creepy Charles Killian’s fondness for satanic rituals. Killian dies a fiery death and damns Room 21’s future students. Despite grave warnings, the new principal unlocks the classroom — and the curse awakens. In the second story it’s studious Celia’s turn to contain and destroy a ‘body jumping’ spirit before it claims her soul; the last tale pits Johnny against a fat-hungry warlock who comes a ‘splatter-tastic’ cropper. A second season followed in 2008.
Valley of the Stereos is a comic face-off that starts tinny, but gleefully escalates to bass heavy, as a not-so-zen hippy (Danny Mulheron) gets caught up in a vale-blasting battle with the noisy bogan next door (Murray Keane). Made by many key Peter Jackson collaborators, the near-wordless pump up the volume tale was directed by George Port, shortly before he became founding member of Jackson's famed effects-house Weta Digital. Ironically Weta's computer-generated miracles would help render the stop motion imagery seen in the finale largely a thing of the past.
Ray Ruawhare has worked on effects and animation for everything from NZ On Air's Eric the Goldfish to movie Predicament. In 2004 he produced From Len Lye to Gollum, a comprehensive documentary on the history of animation in New Zealand. Ruawhare was one of the founders of animation and effects conference AnimfxNZ.
A pioneer of computer-generated imagery in New Zealand, John Sheils helped conjure angry cave trolls, flying buzzy bees and herds of roaming TV sets. Time as a camera operator fueled his interest in images unconstrained by gravity or nature. Sheils went on to work on The Fellowship of the Ring, Perfect Creature, Spartacus, and a run of video games and adverts — plus Red Scream, NZ’s first CG short film.