Jills Angus Burney during filming of the She Shears documentary. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

BECKIE WILSON
beckie.wilson@age.co.nz

Shearing a sheep is said to be one of the hardest jobs in the world, and that is what documentary director Jack Nicol hoped to prove in his new movie, She Shears.

Following the life of five female shearers gunning for glory at the Golden Shears, the portrayal of each woman is “quite delightful”, according to Masterton-based champion shearer Jills Angus Burney.

Angus Burney is one of the five whose story is told in the movie, produced by Miss Conception, which will be shown to the public for the first time next month at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

“Part of my role is the narrator, because I’m the old bag who retired,” she said.

Angus Burney has been with the movie from the beginning since speaking with Nicol about his plans in late 2015.

“I said to him, you haven’t really understood [shearing] until you’ve been to the Golden Shears.”

Since the 2016 Golden Shears, Nicol had been working with the women and their communities to get a grasp on the industry and what it means to live in rural New Zealand.

She Shears director Jack Nicol.

Nicol, a self-confessed townie, said it took about a year of reading and talking to people before filming began.

Shearing was fascinating to him, especially the concept of women shearing “back in the day”, which was not really the done thing – but that’s all changing, he said.

“In all the shearing books you come across these chapters on female shearers, and they are wedged in there and are just a few pages.”

Angus Burney said the film included amazing photography of the region and the Golden Shears competition.

Having only watched it for the first time two weeks ago, she admitted she had not known what to expect.

“But I really like the fact that he followed us and what was going on for us.

“He looked at it from the perspective of how women cope and how they adapt, and how they are accepted or not accepted.”

The movie had some “iconic and ironic moments” which showed off “cool, quirky and funny things” in the daily life of the shearers, Angus Burney said.

Nicol said it was fun to “hang out with a bunch of shearers”.

“I just fell in love with the people, they are what hold the documentary together.”

As an up and coming director, Nicol believed he and his crew had “pulled off something world class” despite the film only costing about $300,000 over the three years.

The film was funded via crowd funding, and some of its main sponsors included Rural Women New Zealand, Trust House and Farmlands.

The film will show in Wellington on August 8 and 9 before a nationwide release on October 11.