Learn how we made an Otago short film! As PULLING UP STUMPS progresses, we’ll be featuring BTS photos & videos. Explore our unique set. Learn more about our props. Or follow the adventures of Giovanni.
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.
PRACTICAL SET CHALLENGES
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.
PROPS & TOOLS
Tales of Central Otago Farming Life
Older Bloke. He was an Otago sheep farmer & family man for 50+ years and we wanted the background clutter to reflect his vocation.
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!
GIOVANNI THE ROOSTER
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.