Go behind the scenes! Our talented student volunteers, Jack Smillie & Jack Trounce, created a 5-minute featurette with footage they gleaned from our shoot. See how Otago filmmakers & crew get to work.

This featurette was Highly Commended for Cinematography by OnScreen in 2023 and won Best Documentary in the 2023 NZBS School Shorts competition!


A Set is Half the Story

Meet “Bertha”—a classic, no-nonsense Otago woolshed. Like many Southern sheds, she’s made of corrugated iron & braced with steel girders. But she’s seen some changes in her lifetime.

With the farm gone, she’s been divided into smaller sections and converted into a workshop. Instead of housing sheep, she now keeps an old man dry and warm.



Photo Credit: George Cassells

HEAT & COLD: On March afternoons, Otago was reaching 26º C/80º F. In the mornings, it was 4º C/40º F. We borrowed fans & heaters and prayed to the weather gods.

NOISE: As soon as rain hit the roof, it sounded like a cannonade. And soon as the sun warmed the metal, Bertha went “Snap, Crackle & Pop.” We had to dance around drizzle with some dialogue-free scenes.

LIGHT: Woolsheds can be gloomy places. Bertha has more windows than her Otago peers, but our Gaffer, Jo Bollinger, brought in extra lighting sources so we weren’t in the dark.

SOUND: Metal creates an echo chamber. Fortunately, we had one interior wall that was wooden. However, that still left us with a set that was “acoustically bright.” We used soft furnishings like blankets and lots of wood scraps to soak up the sound. Our Soundie, Joseph Veale, was a Superman!

LAYOUT: PULLING UP STUMPS is an intimate film, but we didn’t want it to be limited to close-ups. So AlBol & Elinor worked out a choreography of camera shots that could function in a tight space. Happily, there were lots of lovely horizontal & vertical lines to complement figures within the frame.



Tales of Central Otago Farming Life

Over the summer of 2023, we rounded up tools & farming equipment that told the story of our Older Bloke. He was an Otago sheep farmer & family man for 50+ years and we wanted the background clutter to reflect his vocation.

In our excavations, we came across Hayes fencing tools (Otago), Pirelli cable (Southampton, UK), and Sunbeam cutters (Chicago, USA).  Farming is an international affair in the South Island.



The result was a set full of local memories. Almost every item you see in the background of the film has a story attached to it.

  • Stuart Griffiths custom-built Ian Mune’s workbench.
  • Nicola Jackson offered us the golden scales.
  • Morgan & Pat Jones provided tools, bottles, and more.
  • Roger Healy lent us a bona fide farmer’s watch and swivel lamp.
  • Garry Hall left old-school waratahs, duck decoys, and rabbit traps at the shed door.
  • Pauline Lawrence gave us shears, planes & amazing gardening tools.
  • Tom & Helen McPhail told us tales of wrestling rams.
  • Val McMillan provided us with our key prop—a boy’s socket set.
  • Jo Boyd supplied us with heaps of boxes and items for “The Hoard Wall.”
  • Michelle Freeman dressed our set up with tea bins and weathered furnishings.
  • John Allan swathed our windows in dusty hessian.
  • And Jay Cassells let us borrow his evocative family photographs.

We’d like to give a special “shout-out” to all the old farming families in Arrowtown & Queenstown who helped us find the right items and vetted our shed for accuracy!



Meet a Bird of 1,001 Talents

The true star of our film is Giovanni, a Queenstown-based rooster who has already flexed his wings in a short film. When MAUNGA CASSINO wrapped, Giovanni was adopted by a local family.

Giovanni is not a bird to be taken lightly. Over the summer, he got into a fearsome scrap with a dog. He emerged undefeated. And without his tail feathers.

Before Dog (BD)
After Dog (AD)