6th May 2013
Character studies
Title of film: 10% YMCA
Director: Zoe McIntosh
Zoe McIntosh's films are winning acclaim on the international festival circuit. Now the New Zealand director is moving into making commercials. 1.4 showcases her documentary, short film and ad projects in Related Content

A brief resume of how you became a film maker please.

I majored in Film at Canterbury University, Christchurch, New Zealand. In my final years of University I made two short documentaries: Night Vision, about an extraordinary relationship between a pimp and prostitute. They were not your average married couple. And Mail Order, about men who order mail order brides in New Zealand. Both screened in international film festivals.

Your work seems to focus on subjects that you personally feel driven to make a film about. Is this the case?

Very much so. The subjects I choose to make films about are always characters that intrigue me on a personal level. There’s something within their personality that I find brave or confronting, sometimes their physical appearance is unique or alienating and their outlook is unconventional and challenging. Predominately, I tend to gravitate towards characters living on the fringes of society; rebellious, mischievous individuals who don’t conform to mainstream conventions. These people spark me creatively and force me to question my own values and the way I look at the world.

Your cleverly-told documentary on cross-dressing policeman and lawyer Rob Moodie aka Miss Alice is an uplifting and intriguing portrayal of a man committed to fighting against injustice. It’s a wonderful film and we urge readers to watch it – it’s in Related Content.

Lost in Wonderland is a “bent documentary about a straight lawyer”. The film chronicles the colorful life of one of New Zealand’s great eccentrics, lawyer Rob Moodie. It tells of his aversion for convention, and his fights for justice – focusing on a harrowing legal battle that went on for 14 years.

Have you just recently started shooting commercials – what would you say would be the ideal script for you?

Yes I have just recently started shooting commercials. Hmmm, my ideal script would involve gritty, original, characters, set in an environment which allows for arresting cinematography and have humor. That sounds very broad, but I like directing a diversity of subject matter and style – it keeps me fresh and on my toes.

Please tell us about the Equality Pay and V-project.

The V Motion Project was a collaboration between a lot of clever creative people working together to create a machine that turns motion into music. The client for the project, Frucor (makers of V energy drink), together with their agency Colenso BBDO, kitted-out a warehouse space for this project to grow in and gathered together a group of talented people from a number of creative fields. I followed the process making 8X webisodes and a commercial for television.

The biggest challenge with this project was trying to distill very complicated information about the technology and creative process into upbeat, captivating, webisodes that the ordinary Joe Blog could watch and enjoy. However, I think because the concept (creating music from movement) was so fascinating and revolutionary there was already an audience for the webisodes. The V motion project was a great creative achievement for us as a team.

10% YWCA was a commercial that encouraged people to support the pay equality bill and demand equal pay between men and women. When I first read the script I could immediately visualise the commercial and it cracked me up (always a good sign!). I knew it would be great if executed in a effortless straightforward way, that kept the focus on the performances. I guess the biggest challenge was the lack of budget because it was for a charity spot. In saying this, it’s a great cause and I’m very happy with the final result.

What are you working on now?

I am currently in post-production with an independent, self-funded, feature film called The Deadly Ponies Gang. I’m delighted to hear that it’s just been invited to premiere at the New Zealand International Film festival this year.

The Deadly Ponies Gang is a film about two lifelong friends, the alternative lifestyle they lead with horses, and the lengths one of them will go to get his mate some new false teeth! The boys love hip hop, and horses, but they don’t like guns, and they can’t afford cars, so the pair have taken to pimping out their ponies instead, blinging out their rides with pearls, glitter and gold (all plastic, of course) eternally trying to impress the ladies.

It takes us into a strange yet familiar world of green kiwi hills, pony clubs and BBQs, strangely intersecting with the customs of a ghetto of L.A. The mix is hilarious, yet also touching, and a little bit inspiring. The infectious enthusiasm of the characters – who include NZ’s only Country and Western gangsta rapper, The Rhymestone Cowboy, and 12 year old equestrian DJ Buster, makes for a joyful gallop.