Archives For film

By Ashwika Kapur, Filmmaker

Ashwika Kapur holding a video camera.

Ashwika Kapur

I came to New Zealand in early 2013 to chase my childhood dream of obtaining a degree in Natural History Filmmaking so I could entertain and educate audiences through timeless wildlife stories from around the world.

As part of my degree I had to make a film so I began scouting ideas, and among the weird and wonderful creatures of this far away land, I came across Sirocco the kākāpō’s story. It was just one of those things; I simply knew this was the documentary I had to make!

Sirocco looking through a hole in a wooden box.


Sirocco is irresistibly endearing, cheekier than a monkey and remarkably bizarre in his mannerisms. Sirocco is an extraordinary character and his story is equally extraordinary; a true-blue rag to riches tale. My film sets out to tell that story; the one-of-a-kind tale of a bird catapulted to super stardom by a chain of rather strange events.

Sirocco's claws around a tree branch.

Check out those rockstar claws

Sirocco’s story is one of hope, joy and celebration. It optimistically premises the idea that there can be no better ambassadors for conservation than animals themselves.

My film about Sirocco has recently been nominated for a Panda Award, dubbed the ‘Green Oscars’, at the Wildscreen Film Festival.

Sirocco amongst the trees.

Curious Sirocco

The film will be available online to view for free after the Wildscreen Film Festival in October, until then you will have to enjoy watching this short trailer:

By Claudia Babirat, Outreach and Education Coordinator

A clever rap that explores the life-cycle of water, was announced as the Department of Conservation ‘Big Picture Award’ winner at the Outlook for Someday Awards red-carpet ceremony at the Aotea Centre in Auckland last month.

I’m a Little Molecule of H2O, directed by 23-year-old teacher Paascalino Schaller and his Avalon Intermediate School music students, impressed the judges with its clever and relevant lyrics, cinematography and message—highlighting the fact that we are connected to each other and the rest of the planet through water.

DOC's Markerita Poutasi and director Andrew Adamson present the DOC Big Picture Award to Paascalino Schaller and one of his music students

DOC’s Markerita Poutasi and director Andrew Adamson present the DOC Big Picture Award to Paascalino Schaller and Estere Dalton

“The kids and I were doing water studies, looking at water as a precious taonga, using resources from the council—it was all curriculum linked,” said Pascaalino.

“We also knew the Outlook for Someday film challenge was coming up.”

So they combined a love for music and film making with what they were studying, and made a rap video.

“We wanted to tell the story of water, but in a different way and from a new perspective. Working with kids definitely inspires me—they’re so free, there are no restrictions on how they think.”

A star-studded audience celebrate the Outlook for Someday award winners.

A star-studded audience celebrate the Outlook for Someday award winners

I’m a Little Molecule of H2O was one of 20 award-winning films.

All the winning film-makers were presented with their awards by Andrew Adamson, a Kiwi director who has been at the helm of a string of blockbuster films including Shrek and the first two of the Chronicles of Narnia series, as well as an adaptation of Lloyd Jones’ Mr Pip.

Each film was also in the running to be ‘Element Audience Favourite’. A record 1500 people voted in the online poll, which was also won by I’m A Little Molecule of H2O.

153 entries came from all over New Zealand, and nine of the winning films this year came from the South Island, which is more than in any of the previous six years of the film challenge.

Upokongaro Film-making Club accept their award from Outlook Ambassadors Tandi Wright and Jared Turner.

The Upokongaro Primary School film class accept the teamwork award from Outlook Ambassadors Wendy Douglas, Tandi Wright, Jared Turner and Lanita Ririnui-Ryan. Their film highlighted the impact pollution has upon the Whanganui river

Other winning entries covered shark finning, palm oil, water quality, climate change, fair trade, drug addiction, community reuse of resources, and a great film about endangered sea lions that was supported by DOC ranger Ros Cole.

The producers of the musical 'Today is the Day' at the awards ceremony.

The team from Hillcrest High School, with their musical comedy ‘Today is the Day’, were the overall winners of the Someday Awards

Now in its seventh year, The Outlook for Someday is a sustainability film project for young people, and one of DOC’s major national education partnerships.

The project asks young people aged up to 24 to make a short sustainability-related film of any genre, filmed with any camera and any length up to five minutes. It includes a national series of sustainability film-making workshops. 1063 young people participated in the film challenge and workshops in 2013.

All the winning films are available to be viewed on the Outlook for Someday website.

17-year-old student, Natasha Bishop—winner of the 2012 DOC Big Picture Award in The Outlook for Someday sustainability film challengetells us about her big win at the prestigious Japan Wildlife Film Festival on Sunday.  

It was unexpected enough being nominated for the Japan Wildlife Film Festival (JWFF). It was even more unexpected to have received not just one, but TWO awards!

I was given the Best Animation award, as well as the Newcomer award for being an inexperienced filmmaker.

I’m incredibly happy, however I’m also very sad that the film festival is over. During my time here I have been able to meet amazing people, experience traditional and modern Japanese culture, and watch inspiring and beautiful films from around the world. I’ll be bringing home not only my awards, but also a new enlightenment that I’ve been incredibly privileged to experience at my age.

Natasha in Japan.

Experiencing Japan

The Grand Award of the festival was awarded to Grant Muir, a Wairarapa resident. He is the star of the film River Dog, the one other New Zealand film to be nominated for JWFF.

Grant Muir and Natasha Bishop at the Japan Wildlife Film Festival.

Grant Muir and Natasha Bishop at the Japan Wildlife Film Festival

During the festival I ran three seminars. I talked about my own personal background, my involvement with the environment, as well as digital media. David Jacobs and I also talked about New Zealand’s connection with nature, DOC, and The Outlook for Someday.

The organisers of JWFF have been immensely supportive of me during my stay in Japan, and I’d like to thank them for their hospitality and kindness. David Jacobs, who accompanied me, and the rest of Connected Media have also been really vital in making this happen. I’ve been able to make connections with some wonderful filmmakers and environmentalists, which I intend to strengthen!

Left: Kohta Asamidori, the lovely Public Relations Manager for JWFF. Right: Natasha with Hiroe Makiyama, upper house member of the National Diet  of Japan.

Left: Kohta Asamidori, the lovely Public Relations Manager for JWFF
Right: Natasha with Hiroe Makiyama, upper house member of the National Diet of Japan

I’m flying home soon and I will definitely miss Japan! Since it’s the school term right now, I can’t stay very long. But being here has inspired me to learn Japanese, so that I can come back someday and see more of the sights. It’s also inspired me to pursue a career in film and sustainability.

Among the people I’d like to acknowledge is Air New Zealand for sponsoring my flight, we visited their office in Tokyo and gave them a personal thank you. Also to the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo, the staff there were lovely! And of course, thanks to the Department of Conservation for supporting me from the very beginning. Receiving this JWFF award is the biggest up on the figurative roller coaster that I’ve been on!

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