From Ngaruawahia to Raindance: self-taught Kiwi's debut film hits the international circuit


Richard Mans began teaching himself 3D animation back in 1998. Thirteen years later, he's about to hit the international film festival circuit with his debut short animated film, Abiogenesis.

 The film, which he has been working solidly on for the last four years, follows the plight of a strange mechanical device which lands on a desolate planet.

Mans, who hails from Ngaruawahia, began developing the robot in the film back when he first started playing around on his computer teaching himself the art of 3D animation. He says the robot was partly inspired by NASA's Mars Rover.

The film will premiere at the Raindance International Film Festival in London this week. It's also been selected for the Valladolid International Film Festival in Spain and it will have its East Asia premiere in Hong Kong at the SIGGRAPH Conference in December.

Mans managed to snag some big names to work on Abiogenesis, including Dave Whitehead, who worked on the sound design for District 9 and King Kong, and Kiwi musician Rhian Sheehan.

Weta Digital transferred the film to 35mm film and the final sound mix was completed at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

Getting Whitehead on board was a bit "out of the blue", according to Mans. He did a quick internet search to find out who did the sound on District 9, came across Whitehead's contact details and sent him an email. Whitehead was keen and he had a couple of his apprentices working on Abiogenesis.

"You throw something at them and they come back with something you couldn't even imagine," Mans says.

He's now looking forward to seeing how the film does on the international stage. Mans reckons he's learning plenty about the film industry and he's got a few more short film ideas up his sleeve that he would like to pitch to whoever might be interested.

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