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Botes is best known in New Zealand for Forgotten Silver (1995), a documentary he initiated, and co-wrote and co-directed with Peter Jackson. About a fictional pioneer of the film industry, Forgotten Silver promoted considerable discussion and was proclaimed by Guinness World Records as the greatest film hoax in history.
Botes was also involved with the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, first writing a detailed précis of the Lord of the Rings books to help his friend Jackson (whom he met in 1986) pitch the idea to a film studio, then filming three behind-the-scenes documentaries about the making of the films. These documentaries were held over for a time, but eventually released with the films on August 29, 2006 in what New Line Cinema called "Limited Editions". Contractual arrangements with the LOTR actors meant the documentaries could not be released independently of the LOTR films.
Botes has concentrated on documentary work since then, directing Struggle No More (2006), about New Zealand's greatest unknown band, and Yes That's Me (2008), about a blues musician who suffers from depression.
Botes also produced and edited another documentary, Lost in Wonderland, directed by Zoe McIntosh, about Rob Moodie, a New Zealand lawyer notorious for cross dressing in court. Botes collaborated again with McIntosh in 2010, writing and producing Day Trip, a short drama that premiered at Tribeca Film Festival.
2010 saw the debut of feature documentary Candyman: The David Klein Story, about the life of David Klein, the inventor of the Jelly Belly brand jelly bean. The film had its world premiere at Slamdance early in 2010, and was an official selection at Hot Docs 2010. It won the award for Best Documentary at the Rincon Film Festival.
Botes created two new films in 2011. Daytime Tiger provided an intense up close encounter with bi-polar writer Michael Morrissey (not to be confused with the New Zealand actor of the same name), followed by The Last Dogs of Winter, about a man's fight to save the last of an endangered breed of dog in northern Canada. The Last Dogs of Winter premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2011. It was selected to screen at the IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), in November 2011 in the Best in Fest category .