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Tropfest NZ 2015 Finalists Announced


Tropfest NZ 2015 Finalists Announced

Tropfest New Zealand today announced the 16 gifted filmmakers whose films will screen to a live audience and judging panel on Valentine’s Day, February 14 at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth, Taranaki.

The final 16 short films include a diverse range of genres from mockumentary and comedy, to drama and animation. “For the third year in a row we’ve been blown away by the unique stories and amount of entries from across New Zealand” says the Trust Chief Executive Suzanne Porter.

“We’re passionate about encouraging the creation of New Zealand films telling New Zealand stories and it’s been astounding to see traction of this scale for a festival still in its formative years” Porter adds. “It really cements the necessity of Tropfest NZ on the annual festival scene as a launchpad for emerging filmmakers.”

The judging panel for Tropfest NZ will comprise of industry professionals from around New Zealand whose identities will be revealed on the night. “We’ve again secured some film industry heavy weights as judges” Porter says.

The filmmakers will vie for First Prize, winning a five-day film immersion trip to LA, sponsored by the New Zealand Screen Association and Motion Picture Association. Tropfest NZ is also putting up a $10,000 cash prize to award the winner.

Cash prizes of $2500 will also be awarded to category winners for Best Actress, Best Actor, Te Tohu Auahatangi Maori Award, recognising outstanding creativity in Film by Maori (Sponsored by Nga Aho Whakaari and Te Puni Kokiri) as well Best Use of Visual Effects and Best Animated Film (sponsored by Yoobee School of Design).

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The festival has historically been held on a Sunday night, however this year shows a move to the Saturday night, coinciding with Valentine’s Day. “The men have got off easy this year” Porter adds “we’ve done all the planning for a perfect Valentine’s night of short film viewing under the stars.”

Last year Tropfest NZ attracted a crowd of over 8000, this year the festival office hopes the date change and increased profile will see over 10,000 people show up to view the finalist selection.

The finalist details are:


Director & Producer: Matt Gibson – Auckland
Film logline: What people get up to on their lunch breaks.

Director Bio: Matt was a Tropfest NZ 2104 finalist with the film ‘Paul Lawrence’. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Auckland University and has also studied at the NZ Film Academy. Matt considers himself a hobby filmmaker.


Director & Producer: Luke Bremner & Kirk Bremner - Auckland
Film logline: A bittersweet mockumentary about an eager young furniture removal man, trying to gain respect by lifting increasingly heavy objects.

Directors Bio: Luke and Kirk, twin brothers are filmmakers from Dunedin. Luke attended Aoraki Polytechnic Film and TV course in 2007 and Kirk attend South Seas Film and TV course in 2009. Last year the duo made their first indie feature film called 'A Motel and A Hard Place' which they are currently submitting to film festivals. Their short film ‘Saving Private Tom’ was a finalist in Tropfest NZ 2104 making this their second time as Tropfest finalists.


Director: Adam Harvey – Ohaupo
Producer: Chris Hanlon
Film logline: A wronged lawn bowls champion returns to his club to claim back his rightful trophy from the crooked committee.

Director Bio: Adam is a Waikato-based filmmaker and a lapsed doctor who has a strong love for genre films and firmly believes every character-based drama could be improved by adding a spaceship, ghost or post-apocalyptic setting. His dream is to build up to a horror feature film, based on his previous career as a surgeon. This is Adam’s second year as a Tropfest NZ finalist.


Director: Allan George – Auckland
Producer: Ben Fowler, Lisa fothergill & Allan George
Film logline: When motivational speaker Clive Doring is confronted with his epic delusion at the ‘School of Cool’, he finds himself lonely, without hope or a muffin.

Director Bio: Allan was awarded the ‘Top Film Student Award’ by the Prime Minister at the SAE institute in Auckland in 2007. Since then he has worked on dozens of music videos for some of New Zealand’s top artists. He currently works on The Crowd Goes Wild as a Camera Operator/Editor and Producer. This is Allan’s third year as a Tropfest NZ film finalist.


Director & Producer: James Wilkinson - Invercargill
Film logline: A short animated romance about the ever increasing gap in day to day communication.

Director Bio: James was a carpenter for eight years before finding his calling as a filmmaker. He has a Bachelor in Film from The Southern Institute of Technology. ‘Life Through a Wire’ is his first animated short film outside of study.


Director & Producer: Louise Hutt – Hamilton
Film logline: Hopeless? Helpless? Hire a Mum!

Director Bio: Louise is a Waikato University student, studying towards her masters in Media & Creative Technologies. Her film ‘Why The Southern Ocean’ won the NZ Ice Footage for the Future competition in 2014.


Director & Producer: Hayley Marjorie Robertson – Auckland
Film logline: A story about dental hygiene, violence and friendship.

Director Bio: ‘Bottlebrush is Hayley’s direcorial debut, although not her first Tropfest – she was awarded with Best Actress for her performance in Nick Garrett’s film ‘Stop’ in 2013. She has a BA from ELAM School of Fine Art, where she did multiple performative video works and collaborated with fellow student on short films. This year coming, Hayley plans to study Special Effects Make Up for stage and screen at the Cutabove academy.


Director: Ben Hobbs – Auckland
Producer: Mike Banks
Film logline: A man has a lot to think about when he wakes up dead.

Director Bio: Ben discovered his passion for film at 16 after moving to New Zealand from the UK. Slabbed is Ben’s directional debut since graduating from South Seas Film and Television School, majoring in Screenwriting and Directing.


Director: Emma Schranz - Invercargill
Producer: Jaimee Poipoi
Film logline: In a 1920s black and white world, Charlie Floyd must chose a life of riches and fame…or love?

Director Bio: Born in England, raised in Hong Kong and Australia and then moved to New Zealand in 2007, Emma calls herself a ‘Hong-Pom’ with an Aussie accent. Emma has a Bachelor of Digital Media majoring in Film from the Southern Institute of Technology and has recently completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Science Communication (Natural History Filmmaking) at Otago University.
She has screenwriters’ credits on two feature films, one out of Los Angeles, a new project in New York as well as developing her own feature film set in New Zealand. Since starting film school, Emma has worked on a feature film, short films, music videos for 'Grinspoon', 'Boy & Bear' and 'Max & Bianca' as well as numerous other projects in between.


Director: Petra Kate Cibilich - Auckland
Producer: Angela da Silva
Film logline: A silent portrayal of two women caught in the ruins of their relationship.

Director Bio: Petra has a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Film Studies and English as well as a post graduate degree in Screen Production from Auckland University, where she graduated with First Class Honours and majoring in Directing Drama. Petra currently works in administration at production company Flying Fish in Auckland also directs music videos for Fish & Clips, their music video production department. Always looking out for cinema that pushes the boundaries in terms of narrative voice, technique and approach, Petra cites filmmakers such as Terrence Malick, David Lynch, Jane Campion, Scorsese, Woody Allen and Lena Dunham as some of her favourites because they are constantly challenging traditional methods and creating important experiences for viewers.


Director & Producer: David Gunson – Auckland
Film logline: In the middle of ‘No Man’s Land’, soldiers bring a wounded man home.

Director Bio: David is an Auckland based director/producer with an extensive collection of short film and music video credits and a Certificate in Independent Filmmaking from the Auckland Society of Arts. His 2008 short film ‘Boots’ won Best Film in the Maori TV ANZAC short film competition. He notes Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott, David Lean, the Coen Brothers and Ben Wheatley as inspiring filmmakers.


Director: Gabriel Reid – Auckland
Producer: Gabriel Reid & Maile Daugherty
Film logline: Life is full of ups and Downs – but every moment counts.

Director Bio: Prior to this Tropfest entry, Gabriel directed the short film ‘As Dreams Are Made On’ (2004). He has worked in various capacities on a range of film and television projects. As an actor, he’s appeared in Outrageous Fortune, Street Legal and Shortland Street and has also worked as an assistant director on such projects as The Chronicles of Narnia. While actively developing a slate of film projects, Gabriel contracts his services as a director and promo producer, primarily to TVNZ. He has worked in various roles on assorted film and television projects, both in front of and behind the camera. Gabriel hopes to produce dramas, thrillers and comedies, including rom-coms and musicals.


Director: Charlie Bleakley – Wellington
Producer: Alex Clarke
Film logline: A lime dressed idiot helps a woman break into her locked car with a baby inside only to be surprised by the consequences.

Director Bio: Charlie is a Wellington based filmmaker who currently works at IBC Films. His short film ‘Coconut’ was selected nominated for 2 Moa NZ Film Awards and won the Show Me Shorts Audience Award in 2014. Charlie admits to being fond of comedy and science fiction single shot long scenes from the likes of David Lean, Steve McQueen and Steven Spielberg.


Director: Melissa Bamford & Bertrand Remaut – Auckland
Producer: Melissa Bamford
Film logline: In search of her true path, Karla converses with the characters that make up Auckland’s most unique road.

Directors Bio: Bertrand immigrated to New Zealand from France three years ago after completing an Audiovisual Communication degree at the University of Nanterre in Paris specialising in editing and directing. Melissa was born in Switzerland to a French mother and Kiwi father. Melissa has a Bachelor of Journalism from Monash University in Melbourne and spent 10 years living and working abroad in Australia in Paris. Melissa currently works for Media Blanco as a Producer with aspirations to focus on documentary and feature films.


Director & Producer: David Jurakovich – Auckland
Film logline: The future is the past and something needs to change.

Director Bio: David has worked as a freelance camera operator. He has a National Certificate in Film and Television (2008) and an extramural Diploma in Digital Film (2012) from the Southern Institute of Technology. His film interests include those that are inspirational and thought provoking films; anything that delves into the human psyche or questions who and what we are.


Director: Steven Aroha McNicholl – Auckland
Producer: Kennedy Faimanifo
Film logline: An overactive imagination leads to trouble.

Director Bio: Steven first studied at South Seas Film & Television School gaining a Diploma in Film & TV, Cinematography and Film/Video Production in 1996. Since then he has completed a Diploma in Photography at Massey University, a certificate in Freelance Journalism & non-fiction writing at the New Zealand Institute of Business Studies, a Diploma in Advanced Animation at the ACG Yoobee School of Design, and is currently studying towards a Diploma in 3D Graphics at the ACG Yoobee School of Design. For Steven’s finalist film ‘Egg’, his key responsibilities included directing/producing, DOP, editing, digital modelling, texturing, creature concepts and digital sculpting.
All the films entered into Tropfest NZ are seven minutes or less and must contain the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI), which in 2015 is ‘WIRE’.

Tropfest is free to attend but a gold coin donation can be made on the night.

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