Miguel Nitis

About me: 
Miguel is a Dunedin-based Director, Producer, Performer, and a familiar face in the Dunedin Arts community. He has over 50 short films, music videos, promotional videos, and feature films credits. Beyond the screen, Miguel has been heavily involved in Dunedin theatre and circus for almost 10 years. He is currently Festival Director for the Waimate Folk Festival, President of The Dunedin Fire and Circus Club, and of course: HP48Hours Otago/Southland regional manager.


Member for
2 years 2 months

From start to finish, BOTU once again show us they are absolute masters of film making. A great script, lots of hilarious moments, and a very talented crew gives an absolutely cracker of a short film. Great performances from Jemma Osten's epic birds and the bees monologue to Stephen Lawrenson's dabbing doctor kept the audience howling throughout.
A well-deserved second place.

Would have been a great film if only we'd seen it.

Homespun keeps getting better and better! This was a lovely, relaxed-paced, visually interesting short. The team really excels with their cinematography, utilising depth-of-field and some really lovely scenery (Though a steadycam and tripod might give them that little extra boost). Added xylophone and some decent acting on the part of the little boy makes this a wonderful 48hour entry.
The adult actors unfortunately draw attention to themselves with their awkward delivery, and the footage goes out of focus until the last three shots, but this doesn't really affect the movie as a whole. It's a shame this film was disqualified, because it probably would have made the city finals.

Two women hunt down top scientists who might save humanity from a deadly virus. The Malthus Trail forgoes the introduction and skips straight to the middle of their story, opting to tell us what is happening by slipping details into the dialogue rather than show us. This frees up a bit of time and allows them to pace themselves towards the conclusion.
The dialogue is a bit clunky and delivery is forced, but the story on the whole is actually pretty good. Great camerawork and use of the gorgeous local landscapes also help, with some excellent visuals throughout (I found myself wanting to take a bushwalk afterwards). With a bit of work on sound and script, this will be a team to keep an eye out for.

This team really knew what they were doing. From the ambient music, build up of anticipation, to the subtle colour adjustment when the movie tone changes, the audience is guided emotionally to exactly where the team wants them to be through the entire film. Likeable, well-acted characters carry the story well, and the double twist of 'the fake alien is real' works really well.
Kudos to the prop team, with the toaster receiving an enthusiastic round of applause at the city finals.

From the opening riff of the song all the way to the end, 'Meeting!' is interesting, fun filled, and a joy to watch. Musical/dance as a genre is considered a curse by some teams, but if you can pull it off (Like Remarkables Reel Productions did), it can be wonderful. 'Meeting!' is economically filmed in just one location, has a catchy tune, a fight scene, a mystery, great laughs, and a final twist. This was a highlight of the 2019 festival, with another team noting that they saw me happily singing along under my breath at the city final.
Already looking forward to seeing what they come up with in 2020!

Uncool stepdad becomes a kid and needs to learn to be cool. Stepchildren ultimately realise that he's not that bad in the end, and come to accept him as one of them.
Mouthwash had a lot going for it. A strong opening, with an interesting premise, and a lesson about accepting family and moving on. Though it feels a bit weird at times with having to figure out the relationship between characters (i.e, 'Vanessa') on the fly. A little bit more time spent on this at the start (even just showing a couple family portraits) would have made this a real competitor.
The song was pretty good too. :)

Nature Run Amok is a bit of a tough genre, so the idea of having plants infect or invade is a great take on it! The concept for 'Eden' is not uncommon (people sheltering after/during an apocalyptic event, then a stranger visits and is their undoing). I think that if done properly, the botanimorph version of this trope could easily form the basis for a feature-length film. But here the ideas really need more time to flesh out properly, i.e. the reveal of an infection should be the middle of the movie, and the characters dealing with the situation from this point is the basis for the rest of the story. At 2.5 minutes there's plenty of time that could have been filled with more storyline.

Your life will end in three minutes.
Great premise, though it's a mixed bag throughout. Solid acting from Seb Prescott and brilliant editing carry this film, while the deadpan Beth Craigen's pleading confuses us as to whether she's there to help or to watch. Then there's the question as to whether Seb's character actually has a choice, or if his desperation to break free from his fate ultimately fulfils it. Though maybe this ambiguity is deliberate. Ultimately, there's no twists or turns and no emotional journey to embark on, so the movie just leaves you in thought.
Still, it keeps your interest, and has a unique style not unlike the cult classic 'Pi', so is well worth a watch.

Cringe comedy is not easy, but it seemed to come in droves here. We were not entirely sure if the film was intended to be so cringeworthy in parts, but ultimately it is the charm of this film.
The self-aware 'overhead shot' is telling that this team can appropriately pull off different types of humour. I'm really looking forward to seeing them take on another genre.

Two very important points though:
Credit your music and musicians.
Hand in your film in the correct format.

Another great rap from THLP!
Great jokes, great song, and lots of laughs throughout! With a few tweaks (Audio quality and cinematography) this team could take a top prize in the next few competitions. The syncing of lips to lyrics is a bit out and the footage quite grained (Probably from low light rather than old camera gear), but this was still a quality short film that kept the audience in the palm of their hands.
And if they keep rapping, I'll buy their CD one day :D

Stuck to genre well with Death coming for John Smith literally in the wrong place and time.
The team needs a little work with regards to cinematography, with the opening being very strong, but later shots suffering with some focus and lighting issues. i.e. using a lighting bounce board. Mixing up the music a bit more may have also been helpful.
Great acting from Angela Seyb! Small nuances in her acting show a character who is outwardly dead, but enjoys what she does. I can't help but think that she may have channeled Wednesday Addams for this role. Angela carries the film brilliantly; we'll be looking for her in future 48hour films :)

This was the top pick by one of the Dunedin Judges!
Well shot, professional footage and great acting by the two gents. Unfortunately it does fall short with the sudden ending, and with the ocean in the background and footsteps all over their location, it really doesn't seem like a life-or-death situation apart from their conviction that it is.
That said, the humour is spot-on, and the subtle special effects and drone footage keep the audience attention rapt.
Well done!

This was the personal favourite for one of the judges!
It is a bit weird having a dramatic theme at the start only to have the rest of the movie slow right down, but that didn't stop 'Banana Split' from being one of the best films of Dunedin in 2019. Toowit Toowoo are very economic with their locations, keeping the bulk of the film firmly in their kitchen. Upon re-watching, you realise that the fate of the banana is foreshadowed throughout, and to do this in the 5 minutes available is a mark of very professional planning/storyboarding.
The music felt like it dragged a bit and most of the shots were quite static, but aside from that it's a great film full of good humour and a brilliant twist.

A good, solid story followed up with well executed storytelling. In film making the general rule is: 'Story is King', and this is how Watson and Cricket secured their second City championship here. Straight from the opening shot they visually grab your attention, a quick establishment of the main character's plight means they can spend the bulk of their remaining time on the trial and fall of the protagonist. Top this off with a happy ending that doesn't feel forced, an ending shot that ties into the start, and seamless integration of the required elements, and we are left with a pretty solid winner. Well done :)

Some films get better every time you watch them, Tenseless is a great example of this. The main actor really catches our attention within seconds, and even though we only have a rough idea of what's happened, we are immediately on his side.
Lots of teams fall over when their protagonist gets presented with a scenario and immediately understands and goes with it, but here, Four Gone Conclusion take their time, and give us a completely believable response to discovering time travel. The change of music and mood is a bit of a sharp turn when the two characters embrace when you first see it, but when viewing the film again, it feels really nice and heartwarming.

A great character, a granted wish, and plenty of antics. This film was one of the most entertaining movies of the competition. Lead actor Caleb is absolutely fantastic, and carries the entire film himself. Were it not for such a great performer, the film might have fallen flat, so selecting such a talented actor was an excellent choice.
The storytelling has a few holes in it, the middle was quite drawn out while the beginning and end really need a bit more time spent on them. But even then the shots look great, the cinematography is well done, and the array of locations keep it visually interesting. Hopefully we see more from this team in the future.

The monster movie is a great opportunity to really play with things. The monster could be huge, tiny, cute, ugly, cgi, puppet, toy, costume, claymation, or all of the above. There's plenty of room to stretch old ideas or to build new ones, and a great monster can make an ordinary movie fantastic. Unfortunately, this movie only featured an older kid in a mask (which we've all seen before) and missed the opportunity to play with an interesting genre.
This film has lots of great cinematography and a great child actor, but ultimately there was little in the way of story or interest to really suck the audience in..

A likeable character, with a unique perspective on everyday life and an emotional journey, brilliant. Pete Naik is fantastic as Lizzy the lizard in human form trying to make friends on earth; changing to 'lizard speak' and back without breaking momentum is particularly noteworthy. Watson and Cricket Productions do a great job presenting a lead character who murders and eats innocent people, while being endearing at the same time. Funny, sad, and heartwarming, this movie has it all; they absolutely deserved to win.

Two sisters and the off-screen adventures of one of them. The music is lovely, there's a lot of potential, but it's hard to tell what's happening on the first viewing. While there's plenty of great cinematography, retrospective storytelling really needs more than snippets of dialogue to to be properly effective. The sisters don't age, the shots of the calendar don't direct your eye to the important details well enough, and the most interesting parts of the story happen outside the film. It's not a particularly exciting story, but there's plenty to keep your interest if you pay close attention (though the most entertaining part of the film is the nervous boyfriend at the end).
We forgive a lot for presentation though, and the film looks very nice. Black and white with overlays and a great score give it a great artistic look which ultimately saves the film.

Not only is this film absolutely full of great, zombie-incidental ideas, but it also has a depth to it with regards to what kind of emotional connection someone might have to their reanimated loved ones. Rarely does a zombie movie consider a functioning society where zombies are a regular nuisance, and what precautions you'd teach your kids around them. This film does both. A solid script, great premises and plenty of clever ideas, the film remains completely believable until you guess the age of the mum. It's a bit of a stretch to consider it a 'star crossed lovers' movie as mum only shows up for one scene and is not really a core focus. Nonetheless, it's a brilliant movie and completely worthy of it's 3rd place win.

Random silliness abound! This is a great, lighthearted romp that doesn't take kidnapping too seriously. It's full of glitches, sound problems, and sometimes didn't make sense, but that kinda contributes to the fun. This was a very well-received film, and it's clear that everyone involved was having a great time.
It might be a bit lacking in story, but it was presented well enough to be quite enjoyable to all.

Cyborgs Are Our Future is a mixed bag. It's got great camerawork, but a lack of variety and only tripod shots, forced acting, but some great moments, a lot of unanswered questions, but enough to understand the film. This is clearly a talented team, but I think this year's entry was ultimately held back by the film's pacing. It's a bit slow, and there's not really much happening for most of the film. Some foley, a good microphone, and some shot/location variations might help, but even then they probably could have cut the film down to 3 minutes and kept everything they needed
Still, it was well received and the audience liked it.

There's a lot of talent here, Goopy Productions present a good premise and a clear level of film making ability in Mission Botanical. It's a basic premise, but seems full of questions. Why set two thieves competing against each other? What is their history? Why leave the flower?
The pacing seems off in places, which affects the comic timing, and the music doesn't quite suit the tension needed for the most part. With a tighter edit, and some sound effects it could be improved nicely. However, the cinematography is good and it's still quite enjoyable.
This looks like a team to keep an eye on.

One of the great formulas for comedy is to take something odd and have someone normal deal with it, or take something normal and have someone odd deal with it. The scenario of someone getting paranoid about everyday technology isn't new, but is tackled well here. Silas does a great job here, acting out paranoia over normal things with absolute conviction.
A few technical issues such as wind in the microphone and focusing the camera are apparent, but overall the audience likes it, and it's quite well done.

Why tell a complete story in 5 minutes when you can do it in 2? A sentient pear gets put into a bucket of apples, and without saying a word a story is told. This is a brilliant example of using your required elements as part of the narrative.
Fish out of water = Pear out of bucket.
Establishing the faceless human character with gumboots, footsteps and the puddle.
The ominous door slam.
Using the shadow to show the pear being out of place and 'Pear Shaped'.
Just putting eyes on the pear establishes that it's a character, and burying it among the apples (along with a great choice of music) really sells the feeling or being out-of-place.
Cute, simple, and effective with a subtle depth and multi-layered effect. Lots of cinematography for such a tiny location. A great demonstration that you don't need huge teams, complex stories and a giant budget to make something effective.

We have no idea what this movie looks like, but the title sounds awesome.
Hopefully they upload it so we can see what they made.

This movie would have been great if they'd handed something in.

Two characters reminise as the end of the world approaches. It's a great premise, looks lovely and has great stop-motion animations.
It's thought provoking and sweet; there's a lot more in this than first meets the eye. It's a bit slow to establish at the start, and the repetition of the loudspeaker is a tad annoying, but ultimately has a fulfilling, charming story. A bit of info about why the world is ending would have been helpful though. Slamming the door and covering it with exclamations is a great way to show a fight without breaking the tone. Ending with 'Fin' is a nice touch too.

A beautiful collage of some of cinemas greatest rom-com references. Love Figuratively has a good opening, and has charm, but seems to rely more on the references than establishing the story. It's an technically brilliant mix of great cinematography and sound, that suffers from minor, but glaring issues from timing, awkward delivery, and editing. The poem at the end is great and the actress in the puddle is very satisfying, but the overall effect feels like something is missing throughout.

The big issue with this film is that the characters are all stuck in one tiny room, while discussing all these interesting places to be. Dunedin has more brilliant locations than many other areas to film in, and to film in one room for almost the whole duration really prevents this film from optimising an interesting premise. There are good performances from Maegan and Rachel, but going round a circle and doing introductions is not enough of a story to carry the film. A stronger script with a three-act structure and some variation in filming locations could have made this quite an interesting watch.

I think there were two standout moments in this film; The door slam was well executed and was actually a slam as opposed to most teams just closing a door. It was edited in well and was a brilliant transition between scenes. It's this kind of moment that film making really has an edge over the likes of theatre, the ability to break a reality and pull it back together.
The other was the 'ran out of time' comment at the end. So much of low-budget film making is covering up errors well, and it was a great way to cut short the ending in a way that the audience will fully appreciate. Viewers on youtube won't ever be able to appreciate that reference like the audience did, and I think that's fantastic. Moments like these are wonderful to see, the well thought-out, well executed, planned out moments, and the last second, improvised pull-together.
Unfortunately though, without a real ending, it's still an incomplete story. We really needed to know how the tale ends. It's a great premise, and could be really interesting to see pan out.

This was one of my favourite films of the year. I've had the song stuck in my head for weeks. Great colourful, bright optimistic opening! They really direct the audience experience well and you don't take long to emotionally attach to the dog. The bad man is also great, though being Ultra really needed to be another animal or a child. The death of the dog certainly provoked a reaction!
These are very talented film makers, and I'm already looking forward to what they come up with next year.

One of out judges felt that this was the first film to offer an actual character introduction. So great stuff! From there it kept a steady pace and revealed the story well. Sound issues and lack of cinematographic variation made immersion difficult. The RHCP logo on the T-Shirt is a copyright issue, and such predominance of such a logo in a shot is a big no-no. We can't see their lips moving for most of the conversation, and we need to. There's a missed chance to establish a lot about the characters while they talk.
Good pacing and a pretty complete story. This team could do quite well with some more experience.

It had it's moments. If we didn't get the 'What if your phone was your life?' card at the start, we'd have had no idea what was going on. Even then though, it was difficult to understand. Shaky camerawork and audio difficulties also didn't help. Nonetheless, there were good moments, such as the crying for the laptop and the sober drunk.
We were wondering if the battery level was metaphor like 'running out of spoons'?
There's potential in the idea.

Cute, effective, and direct story. The black at the start (while important for the plot), is a poor start though. We need something visual there or some kind of context first. There's a lot of storytelling that happens visually while people are talking independently of the dialogue.
Even without this, it's a brilliant, well-told film. Dwarf Shortage seem to have a knack for great, engrossing stories.

Great movie, BOTU always put on a good show. Probably the best team intro in a long time.