NZ Short Films

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Resource Pack for: Three NZ Short Films

Created by Mike Kingston

Context

Aotearoa has a strong and proud legacy of film making. Hidden amongst the well-known giants are some powerfully crafted short films that show that small can be beautiful. Many directors have used short films as a jumping-off point for their careers, going on to make well-known feature films (Taika Waititi being a prominent recent example). So is a short film just a discipline for directors who can’t muster the resources for a full length film? Or is it an art-form in its own right? As this loaded question would suggest, a short film – much like its written cousin, the short story – needs to be enjoyed and understood in its own right.

The Six Dollar Fifty Man is the longest of the three films discussed here, and provides a slightly dark portrait of 1970’s school life. There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, and the film uses excellent characterisation to show that power relationships are not always as simple as they seem – and that teachers have the ability to make ‘a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven’.

Snail’s Pace has become an underground classic. The premise is simple: a voracious, determined snail spies some delicious lettuce, and crosses a busy road in pursuit of his lunch. Sounds simple? But think about it from a film making perspective – how do you create a sense of character and intention… from a snail? Also, how on earth do you get a snail to do what you want on the film set? You thought children and animals were bad…

Careful with that Axe , the first of a trilogy of films, takes its name from a Pink Floyd song (Careful with that Axe, Eugene ). This film shows the power of shot selection and editing, and the role that expectation plays in our experience of a film.

This resource will use The Six Dollar Fifty Man as the basis for a discussion of theme and character, and will use the other two films as the basis for an exploration of technical aspects.

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