Creative bloodlust

Bringing people together to make gruesome props

Last updated 05:00 02/08/2014
SHANE SUTHERLAND

SHANE SUTHERLAND: Bringing zombie creators together under Collective FXNZ.

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Want to squirt some blood and throw a few brains around? Shane Sutherland wants to hear from you.

A storeman and truck driver during the day, he's often out in the garage after work, creating gruesome props for fantasy horror films. He knows he isn't alone.

''There's quite a few people in Marlborough that love doing this sort of thing out in their garage or their shed.'' 

Confident that better things are created by people working together, Shane, who lives in Blenheim, has started Collective FXNZ.

It already has about 40 members and numbers are growing. 

Marlborough is making a mark on the world zombie map, thanks to Blenheim film-maker Aaron Falvey whose most recent short film, Outer Darkness, was added to a zombie film app being developed in the United States.

Shane created many of the film props and his daughter Chloe Sutherland, who works in the cosmetics department at Farmers, took charge of make-up.

The Sutherlands were also involved in Bloodless, a horror fantasy Aaron's Falvation Films produced in 2012 and released on YouTube last year. 

Chloe had joined Falvation Films after Aaron spotted her Facebook page and its pictures of her special-effect make-ups. When she saw all the other things that needed to be done she asked Shane to help. Soon he was sculpting zombie bite wounds and latex intestines.

He made regular visits to the Blenheim transfer station's opportunity shop, too, finding random items that became or sparked ideas for potential film props. 

Ideas are often drawn from YouTube and other people's films.

''It's cool. I will watch a movie, buy a movie, then spend my time watching the special features [wondering] 'How did they do that? How did they build that set?'''

Shane, 44, says he has always loved making things and in his youth he dreamed of being part of the burgeoning New Zealand film industry. Enrolling at film school never appealed, though.

''I didn't want to go there and learn about lens and light. I wanted to get my hands dirty making things and making them look real.''

So he left school, got a job as a forklift driver and spent the next few years earning a good wage and raising a family.

Then, looking for something new, he signed up for a year-long art and design course at NMIT, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

Art was still being taught at its Blenheim campus and Shane says the resources for sculpture, drawing and photography were wonderful. He learned to work with a range of different mediums. 

An oamaru stone sculpture he made won an award.

NMIT was followed with jobs for a couple of signwriting businesses. At one he earned a gold-medal, national signwriting award and at another he turned a vehicle into the shape of a cod for a Blenheim fish and chip shop.

These days his creations are even more fanciful but they have to remain low-cost. Films shown on YouTube, like those made by Falvation Films, are all done for the sheer love of it, he says. 

Invited guests are attending a ''red carpet'' film-screening night at Top Town Cinemas in Blenheim tomorrow to see four Marlborough-made films: Alone, Guardian Angels, Outer Darkness and The Malt House. 

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Future productions will benefit from the combined skills of Collective FXNZ members.

Shane looks forward to spreading the load because he has a new project that needs attention: a sci-fi rock opera. 

It will be a ''graphic novel'' after early movie-making plans had to be abandoned, he says. 

Characters range from human-size to tiny miniatures and the ''enormous spaceship'' they use is beyond anything that might turn up at the transfer station.

Check out Collective FXNZ or Falvation Films on Facebook for more information.

- The Marlborough Express

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