Chapter Eleven – Into the Blue: Filmmaking in the Early Twenty-First Century

By Frank Stark. Summary by Jakki Galloway

Boy (Taika Waititi, 2010)

While Weta Studios and Park Road Post made high-tech films, the introduction of desktop editing and new camera technology had a huge impact on filmmaking. The new cameras were simpler and lighter and were of a quality that could be enlarged to the cinema screen without causing too much discomfort.

In 1999, Campbell Walker and Diane McAllen made the film Uncomfortable Comfortable. The film was shot, edited and exhibited on digital video, attracting considerable critical attention. In 2000, Colin Hodson, who had appeared in Uncomfortable Comfortable, made Shifter and John Laing made Shirt. A movement had begun. It spread to other parts of the country. Keith Hill made This is Not a Love Story (2002), Chris Stapp from the Back of the Y television series released The Devil Dared Me To (2007). Other successful no-budget films included The Waimate Conspiracy (2006) by Stefen Harris (also known as Stefen Lewis) and Woodenhead (2003) by Florian Habicht.

Documentaries made with the new video technology were also successful, for example Barry Barclay’s Feathers of Peace (2000), Merata Mita’s Hotere (2001), Gaylene Preston’s Titless Wonders (2001) and Georgie Girl (2002) by Annie Goldson and Peter Wells. The New Zealand International Film Festival proved a major outlet for documentary, with screenings of Luit Bieringa’s Ans Westra (2006) and The Man in the Hat (2009); Clare O’Leary’s Uncovering Icons (2007); This Way of Life (2009) by Thomas Burstyn; Land of the Long White Cloud (2009) by Florian Habicht and Asylum Pieces (2010) by Kathy Dudding, among others.

Increased high-end production and the introduction of low-end video meant that moderately budgeted and conventionally shot films were under threat. When Labour was elected in 1999 they created a $22 million capital fund for experienced filmmakers to make films with bigger budgets. It was called the Film Fund and was headed by David Gascoigne. After initial successes the fund eventually dried up and by 2009 declared it was not taking any more proposals.

“ ... a combination of increased public financing, improved access to international markets, greater commercial opportunities and technology change has led to a hugely expanded output of feature-length films. In the period 2000 – 2010, New Zealand averaged more than twelve such productions a year, which on a per capita basis would scale up to 60 Australian or 180 British films.” p 309


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