Ways of the whio
Watch out Peter Jackson. At 14, young Palmerston North filmmaker Sarah Risdale is already a multi-award winner. Just before Christmas Sarah went to Wellington to receive two awards for her claymation film Whenua Finds a Future.
Each year, aspiring filmmakers are given the challenge each year of making a film of no more than 5 minutes in length for the Making A Difference film competition run by the charity Inspiring Futures. While not picking up the grand prize, Sarah was awarded the Creativity & Culture Award and the Environment/Kaitiaki Award. Her film about Whenua, a whio or threatened blue duck, was inspired after she won a DoC competition to go to Tongariro and learn about their habitat and the threats to it.
Bub, the DoC ranger in Sarah’s movie is based on actual ranger, Bub Smith.
‘‘He plays the ukulele in the movie, but in real life he doesn’t,’’ Sarah reveals. ‘‘He is full of yarns about whio lore.’’
Bub travelled from Turangi to attend the awards with Sarah and her family.
Comprised of some 1200 individual photographs, it’s not the first award Whenua has landed for the talented storyteller. Her film was one of 20 winners in the 2015 Outlook for Someday Challenge, winning the Young Voices for Change Award.
Nor are those the first film accolades for Sarah. In 2013 when aged 12, her film Cows and Cleaner Dairying, was an Inspiring Stories finalist and took top spot in the 2012 7- to-13-year-old section of the Reel Earth Environ- mental Film Festival.
That gave her the chance to meet Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during their royal visit to New Zealand and Sarah presented the royal couple with a copy of her film.
‘‘I like the way film can combine science and conservation to tell a story and get a message across.’’
Her movie career she puts down to getting a claymation kit for Christmas when she was 11.
Sarah’s next film will be live action rather than claymation.
‘‘I’ve written a script for a comedy, a mockumentary – just a fun one, about 10 – 15 minutes long maybe.’’
Sarah’s films can be viewed on You Tube
On the set of Whenua Finds a Future, 14 year-old filmmaker Sarah Risdale with Bub, her ‘leading man’ and Whenua the plasticine whio, has won a clutch of national filmmaking awards.