A son of the country's top cartoonist is proving to be equally talented in his own artistic field, making waves in Hollywood.
New Zealand's leading cartoonist Rod Emmerson spotted the creative talents of his son Angus with a camcorder at the age of 12. Skip forward more than a decade and his son's mega-successful career in Hollywood is in full flight. He's worked with some of the industry's biggest names, including Simon Cowell, Melissa McCarthy and Meghan Trainor.
"Film and TV first piqued my interest when my brother and I would film skate videos on our street after school," Emmerson jnr tells Spy from lockdown in Los Angeles.
"I quickly realised I enjoyed filming much more than skating itself. My dad encouraged me to look into film school. I'm so grateful he was able to see the potential in a 12-year-old with an old camcorder.
"Next thing you know, I was graduating from South Seas Film and Television School with a degree in Post Production."
After graduation, Emmerson caught a break in TV when a friend's dad, producer John McDonald, offered him a job working on New Zealand's Next Top Model.
"At the ripe young age of 18, I had no idea what I was doing on the job, but one thing became imminently clear — I wanted to be an editor," he says.
Within a year, Emmerson became the in-house editor for TV3.
"It was an incredible experience, as I got to be hands-on with all facets of TV. I discovered my new loves: directing and shooting. I moved onto larger international formats, such as The Block and the X Factor."
This is where the young gun says he established his brand, "the effects-heavy supertease editor." Network Executives shoulder tapped him on X Factor Australia and after a couple of years, Emmerson received an email from production powerhouse Burnish Creative in Hollywood offering him a job. Three years later, the 27-year-old, who thought he would have to build a reputation in London before hitting it big in the States, is the company's head of production and says he has definitely found his new home.
"I would have never anticipated my job taking me to a complete different country once more within the span of a couple of years. Hollywood has always been the end game for me.
"I was 24 when I got on the plane. I had never set foot in the States and didn't know a single soul. I just celebrated my three-year anniversary of moving to LA and as of recently became a partner at Burnish. Luckily, it all worked out for me in the end, and I've found my new home."
His work roster of late includes Netflix's Tiger King and Hyperdrive, America's Got Talent, American Idol, The Masked Singer, Little Big Shots with Melissa McCarthy and his most recent project, Some Good News with John Krasinski.
"The news cycle has been dominated by not-so-great news, especially as of late. John had always been wondering why there was never a news show entirely about uplifting news, and took it upon himself to start one. He shot the footage on a Friday and by Sunday evening we had something up on YouTube. I worked around the clock to get it ready, but it was worth it to see the video become the No 1 trending video on YouTube."
What does his father think of all this success?
"My dad is very proud of me and loves to tell all his Facebook friends he has a son living in Lala Land—much to my chagrin. As embarrassing as it might be for me, it's one of the best feelings in the world to know you've made your parents happy. Dad has always taught me that contrary to popular belief, you can build a career out of something creative. I learned from him that you don't have to sacrifice passion or happiness in your work life, if you are driven enough to make it happen."
In the past couple of years, Emmerson has started to transition more into directing too. With projects ranging from a music video for Meghan Trainor and Sean Paul (which is just about to eclipse 100 million views) to a global ad campaign for Tinder.
Lockdown hasn't been easy as editing is not the most mobile-friendly line of work.
"On the technological side, it requires robust computers, able to handle massive amounts of footage and heavy graphics work. LA had a real, drop-everything-and-go home moment, which meant we had to adapt quickly. It was very tricky for us as we have, at any given time, 100 editors accessing footage and material that lives at Burnish HQ servers,"
"We quickly invested in about 50 small computers that can run our editing software, plugged them in at Burnish HQ, sent about 50 other iMacs out across LA so now our editors are controlling computers that are sitting at Burnish, that are connected to our servers! We are now completely remote while our 1400sq m. offices sit dormant."
What a career we say and the young creative doesn't stop there. He loves to do passion projects on YouTube to keep his creativity alive.
Trips to Asia resulted in sense-stimulating clips called Lost in Taiwan and This is Hong Kong, which are both well worth checking out.