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Filmmakers Emerging in 48 Hours

A poignant graphic novel, manic alternate selves, and a daydream gone wild took out the top prizes at the 48Hours short film competition.

A still from Love You Stranger.

Nineteen finalists converged on The Civic in Auckland on November 18th to announce the winners of the 20th year of the Aotearoa 48HOURS short film competition, whose judges included Sir Peter Jackson and Dame Gaylene Preston.

Liam Maguren’s team Mitchell’s Here took out both the 2022 Grand National Champion Award and the Best Director Award for the animated short Big Questions, a simple black-and-white story told in graphic novel form about a father and daughter coming to terms with climate change.

A still from Big Questions.

Over the last 14 years in the competition, Maguren has transitioned from film writer to filmmaker and animator. He honed his skills by creating music videos for TL Stamp, Cricket Farm and Christchurch-based Bandcamp sensation Pickle Darling, which are available to view on his website. While still unsure of where the win will take him, Maguren dreams of one day directing a music video for Auckland band The Beths.

“I’ve had ideas that would be way too much for me to just do in my spare time.”

Stella Reid’s Wellington-based team Child Support won First Runner-Up, Best Performer, and Best Script for their short A Multitude of Ways to Leave Your Lover.

Still from A Multitude of Ways to Leave Your Lover.

Although it was Reid’s first time in the Grand Final, the award comes on the back of her nomination last month for Best Music Video in the Show Me Shorts film festival for Auckland band Dick Move’s “Ladies Night”.

“I am a big fan of the intertwining and really the necessity of film and music together,” Reid said. Soft Plastics drummer Laura Robinson has been a constant mainstay on her 48HOURS team over the last 12 years; Reid directed the music video for their song “Day Job”, which came out in May. One musician Reid dreams of working with next is Wellington musician Mo Etc.

“I think she’s been slept on. She’ll be the next big thing.”

A still from Love You Stranger.

Billy Wong and Jethro Martin took out Second Runner-Up for their short Love You Stranger, which follows a girl’s imagination run rampant in the form of musical montage after she trades glances with a boy at a birthday party. Both have directed music videos for friends, including their recent collaboration with the Auckland-based band Brown Sugar Factory on the video for “Funkfessions Pt. 2”. Music videos trained them in the art of “retaining audiences’ attention” without a “traditional story structure”, Wong said.

“If you came away from it thinking, ‘Wait, what the fuck?’ Then we did our job.”

The competition’s 20th year also saw a leap to 40% female or gender-diverse directors, which festival managers Ness Patea and Ruth Korver say is a significant improvement over last year. Léah McVeagh and her team Angle3 Pictures took out the Dame Gaylene Preston and WIFT Best Female/Gender-Diverse Director award for Parked.

A still from Parked.

Angle3 Pictures have been competing for seven years, and McVeagh believes that the rise in female directors is attributable not only the award but also new initiatives in the industry at large.

“Many women don’t feel a lot of confidence when they are starting out to put themselves forward,” McVeagh said.

“I think 48HOURS is one of those things that helps women upskill, try new things and find their voice.”

Festival founder Ant Timpson said 48HOURS, which is sponsored by the Vista Foundation, has become an incubator in which the “relationships made under intense pressure” not only sustain but become the backbone of the New Zealand film industry.

“Those ties that it creates can last [and] have lasted 20 years,” Timpson said.

Technology has also advanced to the point where filmmakers can achieve more solo. Although Andrew Todd has been competing as part of a team for more than a decade, he has been entering alone for the last two years merely to see what he could achieve. This year, he won both Best Animation and Ant’s Best Solo/Duo Award for Ta Da, an animated showdown with a supernatural fast food chain that ultimately teaches a man the difference between him and his father.

A still from Ta Da.

Although his story seems too captivating to be conceptualised and delivered within 48 hours, Todd said there was only one element that existed prior to the weekend: “a bad relationship with my dad”.

Todd felt that animation technology had reached a point where “a whole bunch of people are doing it by themselves”.

Timpson said Todd’s decision to enter alone has refined his voice. “It’s him, floor to ceiling 100%.”

The films of all the finalist teams are available to view in the 48HOURS screening room.