A DVD collection featuring most of the short films listed below is available here: https://costabotes.co.nz/products/stalins-sickle-other-stories
Day Trip (2010)
Day Trip is based on a short story by my late friend, Bill Payne. It tells the story of a gang member who wakes up one morning and decides on a whim to take a day off. He takes a day trip on a ferry, and the resulting experience brings him to the brink of a huge life change.
I wrote the screenplay and produced the film with Gareth Moon of Nektar. Zoe McIntosh directed and contributed many original ideas to the visual treatment of the story. It was photographed by Marty Williams.
Day Trip premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, and has been an official selection at other notable festivals like Hawaii, Clermont Ferrand, and New York. It won the Signis Award at Expressions En Corto Film festival In Mexico, and Best NZ short and Best director at LavaFest 2011.
View a short clip here:
Our lead actor Tuhoe Isaac had the life experience to play this role. You can read about his own true story here:
Tuhoe won best actor awards at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, and Qantas NZ Film & TV Awards 2010.
Here you’ll find some more of the short films I’ve been involved with. I’ll add more material as I go along. Vimeo’s embedding option is being erratic, but the links still work though they may take you to a Vimeo page rather than opening directly in here.
Mislaid (10:15, 2005)
This was made as a crew training exercise at the NZ Film & TV School. I wrote the script with Yvonne Harrison, very, very quickly.
Drive By (2:29, 2007)
This was a little ditty made as a contribution to a fringe festival competition. Films had to be under three minutes, and feature the words “Junk Mail”.
She Drives (4:28, 2006)
This was supposed to be a music video, but I was inspired by the song to come up with a mini film-noir narrative. It was a guerilla shoot where the cast of 6 outnumbered the crew – just me and DOP Mathew Knight. There was a funny moment when some passing pedestrians tried to help out the ‘blind’ hero of the story.
Who’s Your Daddy? (10:41, 2007)
Another rapidly put together crew exercise made at the NZ Film & TV School. The crew was made up of entirely green students. The actors did a pretty nice job considering none of them had experience in front of a camera, and it’s a pretty tricky script. The aim here was to do long, flowing takes, giving the actors a chance to stretch out with the busy dialogue.
Original Skin (1996)
I’m still trying to find a suitable clip from this dark and nightmarish short story about the dangers of mixing art and drugs. Colin Hodson goes out on a limb playing a washed up painter who’s better at dealing heroin than coming up with anything original. One black night a pair of violent skinheads provide him with some unexpected inspiration.
Original Skin was shot on 35mm black and white film. DOP Sean O’Donnell and Production Designer John Girdlestone contributed to the powerful visuals. I think this is one of the strongest things I’ve done, but it never got much love. Admittedly, it’s a fairly bleak summary of human behaviour. The final twist might not have been nice, but I thought it was pretty neat!
Stalin’s Sickle (1987)
It’s 1962, and communist hating, God fearing New Zealand is at the height of the red scare. Eight year old Daniel decides the old man who passes the collection plate in his local church is actually Joseph Stalin, and he decides to do something about it.
Stalin’s Sickle was based on a short story by Michael Morrissey (see the Daytime Tiger page for more on Michael). The screenplay was written by Anne Kennedy and myself. This was one of the first films to be made via the NZ Film Commission Short Film Fund. It won the Jury prize at Clermont-Ferrand in 1988, and was nominated for several awards at the NZ Film & TV Awards the same year.
I have occasionally got involved with helping out with short films made by other people – usually making a contribution to script but also assisting with producing. Day Trip was one such. Here are some more.
Valley of the Stereos (1992)
This film was inspired by years of living next door to a sociopath with a stereo and the world’s worst taste in music. Rather than murdering this imbecile with a brick, I dreamed up a short story idea – a somewhat more amusing outlet for my rage. George Port, who I had met when he was a puppeteer on Peter Jackson’s Meet The Feebles expressed an interest in making a short film out of it. We ended up writing the script together. Jim Booth and Peter Jackson produced it. George did an incredible job … as you can see here. The film was widely seen and won awards.
Gun Lovers (1998)
I helped director Jason Stutter wrestle this script into shape. He wanted to create a tough, cynical mini thriller with a comic edge, and did a pretty fine job of it. The opening scene of this movie would later plant the seed for what became Jason’s first feature, Tongan Ninja. Here’s a short clip …
A Greater Plan (1999)
Jason had another idea which I thought was intriguing, though it was a very tricky thing to fit into a short film. We worked long and hard on the script, then pulled every favour possible to assemble all the elements required. For me, this little movie will always be a bit of a lost opportunity. Jason and crew did a beautiful job. The actors were great. The music by Plan 9 was outstanding. We ended up short of the cash needed to finish the movie as a film print. Today, no problem, most good festivals screen digital work. Ten years ago we were screwed. I still think it’s a bit of a neglected miracle, but there you go – I would say that, wouldn’t I? Check out the clip.