Collection

The Sam Neill Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Sam Neill has acted in forgotten Kiwi TV dramas (The City of No) and classic Kiwi movies (Sleeping Dogs, The Piano, Hunt for the Wilderpeople). His career has taken him from the UK (Reilly: Ace of Spies) to Hawaii (Jurassic Park) to dodgy Melbourne nightclubs (Death in Brunswick). As Neill turns 70, this collection celebrates his range, modesty and style — and the fact he was directing films before winning acting fame. In these backgrounders, friends Ian Mune and Roger Donaldson raise a glass to a talented, self-deprecating actor and fan of good music and pinot noir.

Lenny Minute One

Short Film, 1993 (Full Length)

Off his own bat, Ilam art student Glenn Standring got his third-year short into competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The minimal plot — hipster private eye Lenny Minute dryly narrates, before facing his nemesis, a rampaging giant blue “sheila doll” — allows Standring to conjure up a distinctive collage-styled cityscape, mined from a grab-bag of Americana inspirations: 50s sci-fi, jazz, the hardboiled detectives of Dashiell Hammett, and star Marlene Dietrich. After this early computer-aided short, Standring joined the Gibson Group as an animator, then directed two stylish features.

Planet Man

Short Film, 1995 (Full Length)

 "It was the beginning of the end of the world..." Award-winning actor Tim Balme (Braindead) narrates this rain-lashed tale of being trapped in a world where all the women have disappeared. The film noir stylings, Blade Runner climate and tough-talking dialogue come to the fore when Balme encounters a beautiful woman with an attitude (Balme's real-life partner Katie Wolfe), and finds desire playing tricks with his mind. Planet Man was judged best short film in the Critics' Week section of the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. 

Hey Paris

Short Film, 1987 (Full Length)

This collaboration between dancer Douglas Wright and director Gregor Nicholas was one of a series of music and movement-based shorts that established Nicholas’ reputation. A dramatised film noir sequence leads to a cross-dressing dance duel between Wright and Debbie McCulloch, shifting between an Orwellian cityscape and retro nightclub. Wright choreographs the bodies, and Nicholas the bold and sensual visual rhythms (shot by Stuart Dryburgh). Nicholas went on to direct high profile commercials and movie Broken English. Wright passed away in 2018.

Jet Black

Short Film, 2007 (Full Length)

The title provides pointers towards the film noir intentions of this stylish short film. A well-travelled set-up — drifter rolls into a seedy motel diner — springs surprises as the time -travel plot unravels. Jet Black features Leighton Cardno (Shortland Street's Dr Adam Heyward) as Jet, burdened by murderous guilt, and fellow Shortlander Marissa Stott as the winsome waitress. The screenplay was written by director Kezia Barnett, novelist Chad Taylor (Heaven) and adman Karl Fleet. It was part of a series of shorts promoting Schweppes, by advertising agency Publicis Mojo.

Despondent Divorcee

Short Film, 1995 (Full Length)

This short film takes its title from Russell Corgi's famous 1942 Buffalo Courier Express photograph of the exterior of the Genesee Hotel. Directed by Jonathan Ogilvie, the film is a series of close-ups of the photo coolly unfurling to reveal the full image. The snippets are overdubbed with a beguiling film noir-styled narration that imagines the context behind the extraordinary shot. Divorcee screened at many film festivals including in competition at Cannes in 1995. Corgi's photo was also referenced in the 'Passengers' issue of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics.

Unfurnished Room for Rent

Short Film, 1997 (Full Length)

As a trench coat-clad protagonist enters the room, the jazzy soundtrack and copious shadows promise a claymation exercise in film noir. But the room advertised in director Barry Prescott’s first short film is no ordinary rental. It soon becomes apparent that a more unusual threat is responsible for the lack of furnishings and tenants — and it threatens the man and his oversized revolver. Television has been accused of rotting brains, but this short takes the allegation to the next level. Unfurnished Room for Rent screened at the Palm Springs and Seattle film festivals.

Reservoir Hill - 8, Series One, Episode Eight

Television, 2009 (Full Length Episode)

In the final episode of this International Emmy Award-winning web series, Beth (Beth Chote) is on the run from the hooded, masked bike gang, and heads into the perennially grey and misty streets of Porirua. Although Matt (Tim Kano) promises to rescue her, Beth finds herself trapped on a dam surrounded by the hoodies — where at last she discovers the secret of the town's bizarre and spooky behaviour towards her. What she does next is even more surprising...

Reservoir Hill - 5, Series One, Episode Five

Television, 2009 (Full Length Episode)

A text from an audience member advises Beth to go to Petra's party in the fifth ep of this International Emmy Award-winning web series for teens. While Beth tries to stay close to her friend Sammy, she is distracted by Petra, then Monika, then Matt ... each of whom tells her disturbing news relating to the disappearance of Beth's lookalike Tara. Despite their pact not to drink too much, Sammy ends up in a drunken fight with host Petra, who reveals the real reason why Lilli Jay is in hospital. Hurt that Beth left her alone, Sammy leaves the party by herself.

Reservoir Hill - 7, Series One, Episode Seven

Television, 2009 (Full Length Episode)

Nightmare and reality collide in this seventh episode of David Stubbs and Thomas Robins' interactive web drama Reservoir Hill, which picked up an International Digital Emmy in 2010. Beth (Beth Chote) reveals Lilli's secret to Sammy — only to find Sammy has known it all along. Sammy hints at her beef with Matt, but Beth is still drawn to him. James loses his cool and blurts out another accusation at Matt. It's the girls — Beth, Sammy and Monika — who venture up to the reservoir above suburban Porirua, to confront their worst fears.