The 48-hour film festival is back, self-isolation style. While the judging panel is deciding the winners, The Spinoff is showcasing seven films from the competition. We’re sharing one a day in the lead-up to the one-hour awards special, airing on TVNZ2. Today, Cookie Jar from team The Morris Buchanans.
Cookie Jar is an exploration of the age-old question: who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? The jar stands empty and this dilemma threatens to tear a family apart. Let the interrogations commence.
The Morris Buchanan team is, perhaps unsurprisingly, made up of the Morris Buchanan family: Graeme, Jo, Lani, Jack and Maisie the dog. They’re currently in lockdown together in their Wellington family home. Jack is an actor and musician who works predominantly in theatre, while the rest of the family are all career lawyers and public servants who are easily roped into being participants in Jack’s creative pursuits.
We had a talk to Jack about how the film serves as a sequel of sorts to a viral hit you might be familiar with, and what it takes to get your public servant family to get invested in a musical whodunnit.
What’s the story behind your team?
We’re family, and just finding ways to occupy ourselves during lockdown (other than drinking gin). Our first-ever collaboration as a family on a creative project was on Family Lockdown Boogie, which was pretty well-received online and around NZ, and so I suppose that makes Cookie Jar the difficult second album.
Did you do any preparation for the film, and how did that set you up for the shoot?
We did literally no preparation. We registered to take part not even sure if we would complete a film or not (it was that stage of lockdown when we were all feeling particularly unmotivated and lazy and grumpy for no reason), but figured there was no registration fee and nothing to lose. On the Friday night we found out our genre – “whodunnit” – and all the different elements, which sparked a lot of excited discussion and pretty quickly we had the idea for Cookie Jar and I was off to the garage to write and record the music.
What were the big difficulties of working in lockdown, and on the flip side, what opportunities did this provide you?
Surprisingly, we found working in lockdown actually quite easy. For one thing, there were no distractions and it made the weekend fly by. Because of the restriction (and the very limited amount of professional expertise/equipment we had access to), from the outset we were thinking about how we could make the most interesting film that would be easiest to shoot.
When we were brainstorming ideas together, some of our biggest considerations were “what can the four of us easily achieve without leaving the house?” and “what is a very simple story that we can tell effectively?”. In that way the restrictions were actually a real blessing, as I have competed in 48Hours before and written stories that were too ambitious to tell in a seven-minute film. We kept it simple and focused on doing it well, which I think really helped. And actually, unlike other years when I’ve taken part and it’s been a mad dash to the finish line, I had the film completely finished 17 hours before the deadline. Sunday was basically a day off.
What’s your favourite aspect of this entire experience?
It was a really really fun day of shooting together. All of us getting dressed up on a random Saturday to sit around the dining table and make a very silly film brought me a lot of joy. The level of buy-in and commitment was awesome, my family is very cool. I also think it’s just a really cool thing that our family now has, you know? Like, some families have home videos of important times in their lives, but we now have this cool film about cookie theft that we all made together, which I think is pretty great.
This interview was edited for length and clarity. You can find the other films that The Spinoff has selected to showcase here.
The Morris Buchanans are just one of a record-breaking 2,111 teams who created three-minute masterpieces from their bubbles. The Vista Foundation 48Hours judging panel, including Sir Peter Jackson, will select finalists to be screened on TVNZ2 in a one-hour awards special on Friday, May 8, at 9.30pm.
VF48HOURS: LOCKDOWN is made with the support of NZ On Air, New Zealand Film Commission and The Vista Foundation.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.