New Zealand production company NHNZ this week added another international award to its trophy cabinet, by scooping up a Focal Award – the stock footage industry’s highest accolade.
NHNZ was recognised by Focal International for its outstanding use of stock footage in detailing the remarkable odyssey of a great white shark in Shark Nicole – a production commissioned from NHNZ by National Geographic Channels US and International.
By winning the award for Best Use of Wildlife and Natural History Stock Footage, NHNZ managed to head off the BBC and Germany’s Marco Polo Film Company.
Shark Nicole tells the deeply personal story of a super predator on an epic journey. To do this, NHNZ drew on a large number of specialist footage sources to showcase the rare behaviour, unique wildlife interaction and seemingly insurmountable challenges faced by this magnificent yet maligned animal. “We were determined Shark Nicole would not be yet another monster-shark programme. The use of archival footage to complement NHNZ’s own stock footage and footage shot on location was crucial to break down stereotypes about great whites through the sensitive portrayal of Nicole’s story,” says director Rory McGuiness.
Shark Nicole executive producer and head of Production Andrew Waterworth says to recreate the epic journey of a Great White shark across 10,000 kilometres of the Indian ocean from South Africa to the West Coast of Australia had to be one of the most challenging tasks for any documentary team. “Finding the right HD footage and seamlessly marrying that with live action to tell this remarkable story was an extraordinary achievement,” he says.
NHNZ footage researcher Lemuel Lyes made an exhaustive search of just about every stock footage library in the world, before choosing footage from 12 libraries ranging from well known production houses such as the BBC to individual cinematographers and filmmakers.
Mr Lyes says by combining NHNZ’s own footage – both new and from its archive – with the very best of that from sources in the UK, France, Australia, the United States and New Zealand enabled NHNZ to tell a story that deserved to be told widely. “In this production great whites are depicted, not as mindless killers, but as beautiful intelligent creatures that sadly are now endangered. These animals are desperately in need of protection from overfishing and practises such as shark finning, and for me the biggest accolade is that I could play a part in delivering that message.”
Over the years NHNZ has received more than 200 international awards recognising outstanding filmmaking and captivating story telling.