Half a century behind the camera, give or take

Christchurch based Frank Film is owned by award winning film-maker Gerard Smyth.

Gerard has produced and/or directed over 60 documentaries, both in and outside of New Zealand. He has extensive experience producing, directing, filming, and writing documentary films. His early training, at firstly the NZBC and then TVNZ, was as a cameraman. (1969-1981.)

In 2012 Gerard was awarded  ‘Best Director Documentary’ at the New Zealand Television Awards for his feature ‘When a City Falls’. This grass-roots tale of the Christchurch Earthquakes also won the TV Guide’s ‘Best on the Box’ People’s Choice award for best documentary. 

In 2014 he was a finalist in the New Zealand Film Awards in two categories, (Best Director and best Cinematography,) for his documentary ‘Aunty and the Star People.  In 2008 he was a finalist "Best Director Documentary" in the NZ Qantas Film and Television Awards for his biography ‘Barefoot Cinema –the life and art of cinematographer Alun Bollinger’. He has been highly commended in the New Zealand Media Peace Awards (2004-Out on a Limb), a finalist in the 2004 Qantas Awards (Out of Sight, Out of Mind, editing) and winner of the English based 'CEVMA' awards for best documentary for 'Sonya Talking.' 

"[When a City Falls] will still be being watched, 50 years from now."

28 NOVEMBER 2011

"My ancestors are of the Irish Diaspora that sent storytellers to the ends of the earth. Most of my working life has been spent telling stories. Far off locations;–Africa, India, Ireland, USA, the Pacific Islands, have all had cameras carted to them. My documentaries have screened in many lands on many channels:- Discovery, European Networks-Australian television and countless times on New Zealand television."

“Common themes rise from those worlds found on the fringes of society.  In these grass-root lands live the dreamers and the visionaries;-the agents of change.” 

"[When a City Falls] will still be being watched, 50 years from now."

28 NOVEMBER 2011



Christchurch Dilemmas - Series 2

Publishing RNZ, Stuff, and www.chchdilemmas.co.nz site from April-August 2017. 


Christchurch Dilemmas - Series 1

This interactive documentary web series encourages and empowers both residents of Christchurch and those interested in the city's fortunes to engage with the shifting landscape. Made by and for Christchurch locals, and those interested in her fortunes. The aim is to energise residents to participate in our own recovery.


Aunty and the Star People

82” Feature Documentary. 

2014 NZ Film Festival.  


Finalist Best Director/Best Cinematography. 2014 NZ Film Awards. 

At age 50, Jean Watson sold her Wellington house to buy land for a children’s home in Tamil Nadu, Southern India. In 2013 filmmaker Gerard Smyth spent two months in India, chronicling Watson and some of the many lives she has changed. 


Christchurch: From the Streets

Television series about the Christchurch rebuild for TVNZ, CTV, Maori TV.


Four years on from the first earthquakes we ask: what could be for our people, our city? A 13 episode documentary series focusing on the stories of the people and communities at the heart of the post-quake rebuild. 


When a City Falls

106”  Feature Documentary. Christchurch earthquakes. NZ Cinema release. TV3.  

Producer/ Director/Cinematographer.  

Best Director/ Best Editing Documentary NZ Film Awards 2012.

Voted top 10 ’Best of the Fest’ 2012 Melbourne Film Festival.

This acclaimed documentary about the Christchurch earthquakes is the story of people coping — for better or worse — with the huge physical and emotional toll that the quakes, and continuing aftershocks, inflicted on them, their homes and their city. 


Pounamu - the Stone in Our Bones

44” Documentary TVNZ, Artsville. 

Producer, Director, Cameraman. 

This one hour documentary screened on Television New Zealand's Art Series 'Artsville' in 2010. As the title suggests, it is a series about artists and their works. Chosen are two pounamu carvers; Lewis Tamihana Gardiner and Joe Sheehan. 

Both artists have been chosen for this documentary for their new and innovative works.  


Barefoot Cinema - The life and art of New Zealand Cinematographer Alan Bollinger

74" feature documentary. 

Producer, Director, Interviewer, Cameraman (shared). 

TVNZ. 2008 NZ Film Festival. Finalist ‘Best Documentary’ 2009 Qantas NZ Television Awards. 

This is a personal story of an unassuming New Zealander - a South Island West Coaster whose art work is instantly recognised in New Zealand and around the world. 


Endangered Species

15" - An Artist/blacksmith is commissioned to forge a sculpture of an endangered native bird. 

South Canterbury’s Noel Gregg is one of the last of a breed who work metal in a way that has changed little in a thousand or two years.


Out of Sight, Out of Mind

46" - Last days in an institution for the disabled. TVNZ.  

Producer, Director, Writer, Cameraman.  

Finalist Qantas “Best documentary” NZ TV Awards. 

Norm Madden’s journey South sheds light on a dark slice of little known New Zealand history;-the Eugenics Movement.


Out on a Limb

46" documentary about a New Zealander's response to an Indian earthquake. Aucklander Nikki Sturrock organises hundreds of limbs to be dispatched to the victims of the 2001 Bhuj Earthquake in Gujarat. 

TVNZ, Discovery Channel Australia. 

Finalist 2003 NZ Media Peace Awards. 

Writer, Director, Cameraman.


Standing Strong

A manual for victims of sexual abuse explaining the court process. Designed to assist those considering or about to appear in a court room. Available on DVD in libraries through-out New Zealand. Updated 2015.



Inside Out

60x half hour documentaries about disability TVNZ. 

Producer, Director, Interviewer, Cameraman (shared).


Out of Sight

1 hour documentary. 

Producer, Director, Cameraman. 

1996 NZ Film Festival. 

Observational Documentary. 8 months spent at the Templeton Centre, home  to 480 intellectually disabled residents live in timeless seclusion on the Canterbury Plains. 


Sonya's Story

1994, Director, Writer

1 x half hour documentary. Young woman’s last days. 

Prime time Netherlands Public Broadcasting. 

Co-Producer, Director, Cameraman. 

“Best Documentary” (1996) London CEVMA Film Festival.  

Option in USA schools curriculum.  


One Day for Africa - Operation Hope

1 hour documentary for TVNZ.  

Producer, Director, Cameraman (shared) Ethiopian Famine. 

"It's a gift from the people, to the people".

New Zealand sends a ship load of aid to the war and famine stricken North Africa. Is what was sent of use to these desperate people? 


Romper Room

You've got to start somewhere. 

When NZ’s second channel arrived in 1975, TV One stayed with the BBC format Play School as its pre-schoolers’ programme while newcomer SPTV made a local version of American show Romper Room. Participation from a young (and sometimes startled) studio audience was a hallmark of the show.

Directed 400 episodes.