Paul Swadel

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Still from Venice Film Festival Official Selection Accidents, Starring Marton Csokas, Rawiri Paratene, Frank Whitten [1] and Marek Sumich [2]
Production Still from the Award Winning Documentary Colin McCahon: I Am[3] Paul Swadel and Director of Photography Leon Narbey [4] do some old-school shooting with a Bolex.
The Award Winning Documentary Colin McCahon: I Am[5]
Image from CGI performance capture film Poppy set in WWI. Poppy was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles 2010, and Best in Show at SIGGRAPH Asia in Seoul.
Still from Infection – made with Animator James Cunningham (Director). In Competition Cannes Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival.
Still from Blinder made with Animator James Cunningham (Director).

Paul Swadel was a New Zealand film director and producer.

He directed and produced many successful short films which screened in competition at Cannes, Venice, New York City and Sundance film festivals to name but a few. Saatchi & Saatchi spotted his talent early in the commercials world for their New Directors Showcase at Cannes in 2000. As a TV Commercial director he produced award-winning work for Sony, Nike and had his PlayStation work picked up globally.

Swadel nurtured a filmmaking partnership with James Cunningham (Director) that spanned 15 years and four globally successful short films[6] Their Film Infection competed at Cannes International Film Festival 2000, Sundance Film Festival 2001 and 20 other international Film Festivals. Paul and James developed an indie performance capture driven CGI film Marshal with Mark Ordesky, Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings (film series). Their proof of concept short film Poppy, was shot on the Weta Digital motion capture soundstage. Poppy features Matthew Sunderland Winner of Best Actor Award at the 2008 NZ Screen Awards.[7] Poppy was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles 2010, and Best in Show at SIGGRAPH Asia in Seoul 2010.

He also developed and co-directed projects with his brother Marc Swadel, whose reel includes work with The Strokes, Sonic Youth and Iggy Pop, and his TVC work was featured in the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase at Cannes.

Swadel was a Co-Executive Producer of Headstrong with Ant Timpson and Leanne Saunders.[8] Their feature film The Devil Dared Me To had its world premiere at SXSW and screened at over 20 International Film Festivals. It has sold to Wild Bunch for the United Kingdom, Vivendi for the United States and Boll AG for rest of world. Their second feature film A Song Of Good began its festival run with a World Premiere at Rotterdam Film Festival where it sold out all of its screenings.[9] It garnered 5 nominations at the 2008 New Zealand Screen Awards, and won a Best Picture Award.[10]

He also directed a significant number of award-winning art documentaries around the world. These range in subject from Plácido Domingo at the NY Metropolitan OperaThe Understudy, to an award winning six-hour series on the history of New Zealand Art – The Big Picture presented by Hamish Keith, which garnered 3 nominations at the 2008 New Zealand Screen Awards, and won Best Series and Best Music Awards.[11]

Swadel most recently filled the role of Development Executive at the New Zealand Film Commission in Wellington, New Zealand.

He Executive Produced a cinema documentary on the 2010 /11 Christchurch Earthquakes When A City Falls [12][13] (in release) which had its International Premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival, 2012.

Swadel developed and Exec-Produced a series of films and shorts as Blue Harvest with the NZ Film Commission. He also worked at Media Design School as a Senior Lecturer for the Bachelor of Arts and Design where he taught filmmaking process.[14] Swadel died on 18 March 2016 after suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease.[15]


Paul Swadel has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film from the University of Canterbury and a Master of Fine Arts with First Class Honours in Intermedia, from the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland.




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