NZIFF Review – ‘Chronesthesia’ (dir. Hayden Weal)

If you’ve seen your fair share of 48HOURS films, you’ll probably have a seen at least a couple films by Moffilaide, whose films I’ve always looked forward to. If you’re familiar with the standard their work brings to the screen, you’ll probably have a good idea of the expectations I had when I was going in to see the premiere of Chronesthesia – and the film exceeded all those expectations by far.

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NZIFF Review – ‘Life, Animated’ (dir. Roger Ross Williams)

Going to see Life, Animated was something of a last minute decision for me – since I already had so many films on my to-see list it was hard trying to pick and choose, but after seeing the segment on Newshub yesterday I was sold. The inclusion of Disney segments was already a given, but seeing a sample of the original animation created for the film had me sold and I bought my tickets straight away. I didn’t regret it one bit.

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NZIFF Review – ‘The Red Turtle’ (dir. Michaël Dudok de Wit)

Apparently I haven’t learned my lesson from Grave of the Fireflies and The Tale of Princess Kaguya when it comes to watching films with Isao Takahata‘s name attached to it, because ouchThe Red Turtle is a French-Belgian-Japanese animated feature directed by Michaël Dudok de Wit and is a collaboration between no less than seven production companies, but is primarily the co-work of Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli. Ghibli is, to no-one’s surprise, my main reason for wanting to see The Red Turtle, since the quality and standard of the films they produce or co-produce are always top-notch, and this definitely didn’t disappoint.

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NZIFF Review – ‘After the Storm’ (dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda)

It’s always hard for me to describe the plot of a Hirokazu Kore-eda film to someone because they simultaneously manage to be about ‘something’ and yet ‘nothing at all’ – that is, in the best way possible. I’ve been a fan of Kore-eda’s work since I watched Still Walking several years ago and last year I was able to see Our Little Sister at last year’s NZ International Film Festival. The work that he produces is simple but high-quality; generally gentle in nature, they’re often borderline-philosophical slice-of-life stories about ordinary, everyday individuals in Japan and the way they navigate their relationships with their families and loved ones whilst trying to grapple with things like tradition, loss/trauma, and personal identity.

(Semi-spoilers ahead)

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Kentucky Route Zero (A Short Review)

Yesterday, after a long but well-worth-it wait, Act IV of Cardboard Computer’s gorgeous point-and-click adventure narrative game Kentucky Route Zero was finally released. If you haven’t heard of it before, you’ll know about it now – one of my favourite games, it’s a magical realist adventure in five acts about “a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it“. I don’t often write reviews for things online, mainly because I know I’ll get carried away and turn what was intended to be a short recommendation into a somewhat lengthy university-level essay, but to be perfectly honest I love Jake, Tamas and Ben’s work so much that I wrote the below as a review on KR0’s Steam page this morning to support them. If you’re looking for something new to play (and even if you aren’t) have a read of what I wrote, check out the game on Steam, GOG or, and consider giving it a go!

Act I – Ghosts in the Static

Kentucky Route Zero is truly the epitome of the quote “Every Frame a Painting”. Beautiful, sad and thought-provoking, it’s the kind of game you end up sitting in silence and thinking about long after you’ve finished playing. If you’re anything like me you’ll probably be screenshotting your way through your playthrough every chance you get; the cinematography and use of colour is just gorgeous and every move the camera makes works to frame the game’s subjects in the most gorgeous and cinematic fashion possible (much like Shadow of the Colossus does)*. The attention to detail in the storytelling is simply breathtaking and the humour and references to media/information theory are v clever in their implementation (see: the Shannon-Weaver model).

Act II – The Forest

Act II – The Museum of Dwellings/The Forest

If you enjoy stageplays, quietly weird fiction, and slow, thoughtful and intelligent storytelling then I definitely recommend this game. A wonderful example of Southern Gothic literature and excellent playwriting, it touches on themes such as debt, poverty, loss and being lost, and overcoming obstacles. The characters are diverse, sometimes quirky, often sympathetic, and always fascinating and engaging in their own rights. Having just finished Act IV last night in one sitting I’m left fairly heartbroken at its turn of events, but also hopeful that things will turn out okay in the end, even if the main players may not have much in the means of influence within the world of the game. Ben Babbitt’s soundtrack is beautiful and adds perfectly to the ambience of the game, and the aliased style of the graphics are simple and minimalist (especially whilst traveling the Zero) and yet perfectly unique and fitting to the feel and tone of the game.

Act III – The Lower Depths Hard Times Served)

Act III – The Lower Depths (Hard Times Served)

It’s a multitude of things that make Kentucky Route Zero as enchanting as it is – it’s a poem, it’s ghost story, it’s a piece of art cinema; it’s a collection of vignettes on what it means to be lonely vs alone and the many different ways people may find it hard to fit into society. In my experience, it’s best played late at night, when it’s quiet both within and without – being in the right frame of mind is key to fully appreciating the game, but KR0 does a fine job of bringing you into that mood as soon as you start up the game anyway.

Act IV – The River/A Delivery

Act IV – The River/A Delivery

I’ll finish here with a quote from a Tweet my friend (who gifted me the game) posted last night:
“He just wants to finish a delivery. She just wants answers about a family mystery. Things complicate, as they do. I hope they un-complicate.”

So do I… so do I.

Lightning Lab XX 2016 (Media Roundup)

From March through to June I had the privilege of being the in-house videographer for Creative HQ‘s Lightning Lab XX Accelerator Programme. An intensive three-month business incubator, LLXX was a venture on Creative HQ’s part to boost the visibility of women-founded startups and help close the gender gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem – indeed, the only prerequisite to apply for XX was that the company have at least one female founder, resulting in eight diverse and interesting companies all coming together in the same space to learn and grow together!

During my time at LLXX I was able to meet so many interesting people and learn so much. I was initially contracted to create a series of weekly videos spotlighting the different startups participating in the programme as well as some retrospectives of happenings in and around the space, but I also had the opportunity to create content specifically for some of the companies, which was a really awesome experience. Every single day of the three month programme was in preparation for the big Demo Day in mid-July, where the CEOs of each startup presented a pitch to a room full of sponsors and investors. Being the mic-depacker for the evening I had front-row seats to the entire show, and I’m really proud of the progress that everyone made over the course of LLXX.

Now that Lightning Lab XX is over, everyone has gone their separate ways, but I’m sure each of them will be successful in their own rights, and I look forward to hearing about their ventures in future! Here’s a roundup of videos I produced for both Lightning Lab XX itself as well as the startups that I worked alongside during the programme. If you’d like to find out more about the startups mentioned, I’ve provided a series of links at the bottom of the page.

Little Yellow Bird | Ama | NoticeMATCH | Patternsnap | Geo AR Games
Music Ecademy | Sipreme | Liangma | Hive

To view the recorded livestream of Demo Day, click here!

Michelle can be found on Facebook and YouTube and can also be supported on Patreon.

F&S Cosplay Showcase Videoshoots (WLG 2016)

Fun F&S Fact: as of February next year, I will have been a cosplayer for a whole decade! The last couple years I haven’t been financially stable enough to justify creating the costumes I’ve been wanting to, but this year I decided to get involved in a slightly different way – by embarking on the creation of a series of cosplay showcase videos, highlighting some of the incredible talent we have here in the New Zealand cosplay scene. Putting out an open call for clients, I was able to work with a dozen fantastic cosplayers on a number of private shoots, as well as filming with fifty more in the creation of a massive compilation of cosplays from Wellington Armageddon weekend.

I had a huge amount of fun shooting and editing these videos, and I hope it shows in the results! I’m definitely hoping to produce more of these in future, and I hope that I’ll be able to work with even more of the fantastic talent here in NZ as the opportunity arises. In the meanwhile, here’s a complete roundup of the content and showcases I produced from the weekend – check them out! :)

F&S Cosplay Videoshoot Series

F&S Armageddon Cosplay Compilation

Michelle can be found on Facebook and YouTube and can also be supported on Patreon.

Sweet Release Cakes and Treats: Mount Cookie

If you’ve got a major sweet tooth then Sweet Release Cakes and Treats is just the place for you. With brownies, muffins and cupcakes galore, Sweet Release also provides a lunch menu and makes treats suitable for people with special dietary requirements, like vegans, coeliacs, or people with multiple food allergies (like me!)

Recently Sweet Release launched their newest of their creations – the magnificently decadent (and frankly quite intimidating) Mount Cookie. Check it out! 

Sweet Release Cakes and Treats sits in Willis St Village in the heart of the Wellington CBD and is a haven for all those with a sweet tooth and/or special dietary requirements. From donut muffins to Afghan brownies, banoffie pies to thickshakes, Sweet Release has it all to satisfy your sugar cravings, and just recently they launched the latest, greatest and sweetest of all their creations yet – the Mount Cookie (formerly known as the Cookie Dough my Goodness). Yum!

Music: ‘Pop ‘N Go’ – AudioTreats

Just make sure you bring a friend along for you first venture up the mountain. Mmm.

Michelle can be found on Facebook and YouTube and can also be supported on Patreon.

Play by Play Independent Games Festival 2016 (Media Roundup)

From the 18th to the 23rd of April, the inaugural Play by Play Independent Games Festival was held at Thistle Hall in Wellington. The first event of its kind, Play by Play was a venture to showcase some of the best and brightest of the New Zealand and Australian indie game dev scene. Organised by the amazing Lucy Morris of Group Pug and Peter and Robert Curry of Dinosaur Polo Club, the event consisted of an Awards Arcade (with eighteen jury-picked games by Australasian devs), Conference Day and Awards Night, Play by Play was a fun event for gamers of all ages and sorts, and was a huge success all around.

A keen gamer myself, and with plenty of friends in the game dev scene, I contacted Lucy prior to the event asking if I might be able to do a series of videos on the event and the developers that were featured in the Arcade. She graciously allowed me to do so, and so began my furious week of filming in and around the event whilst at the same time juggling my then-newly-started work contract! Seven days, six interviews and 80GB of footage later, I had a mountain of game-related excellence to sort through, and over the month or so following I produced, as initially intended, a series of videos spotlighting the wonderful individuals who helped shape Play by Play into the amazing festival that it was.

So without further ado, here is my media roundup from the inaugural Play by Play Independent Games Festival, and may there be many more to come!

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NZ National Parkour Gathering 2016 (F&S Media Roundup)

Over Easter Weekend of 2016, the New Zealand Parkour National Gathering was held in Wellington. As part of the weekend a small awards ceremony was held, where I was lucky enough to have been presented with a beautiful piece of pounamu (New Zealand greenstone) for my work on MOVE (Flow Like Water): A Parkour Documentary. Nga mihi, Tauhokai Aotearoa!

As usual there was plenty of great parkour to be witnessed and no end of good vibes to soak in. Far more happenings went on over the weekend than I can even hope to put in any small amount of words, so instead here’s a little roundup of some of the media F&S produced or helped produce from the event.

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