An Interview with the Producer of New Zealand’s First Horror Anthology

H2Ow Productions have released New Zealand’s first ever horror anthology series, Ao-Terror-Oa.

The Ao-Terror-oa anthology (A play on Aotearoa – the indigenous Māori name for New Zealand) is a delightfully dark and perverse look at everything Kiwi – from Rugby (New Zealand’s brutal national sport) in Haka Atua, the great outdoors in The Ranger or ‘fun in the sun’ with series closer Burn Time – after you see Ao terror-oa nothing about New Zealand will appear the same again.

Jointly funded by NZ on Air and Google/Youtube as part of their Skip Ahead fund, series producer Hweiling Ow describes Ao-Terror-Oa as an incredible opportunity to tell horror tales that are impossible to set anywhere else, while still presenting them directly to horror fans worldwide.

Ao-Terror-Oa is directed by Peter Haynes (T is for Talk, AFK) and Nick Burridge, and co-produced by Johnathan Guest, Jocelyn Bunch and Monique Hoseason.

We chatted with Ao-Terror-Oa producer Hweiling Ow to get the lowdown on the creative process for the series.

What is it about the horror genre that interests you creatively?
I love horror because you can write horrible stories about things that go wrong with people, and know it’s not real. Its great therapy.
My brain is pretty wired up to come up with weird creepy gross stuff – so horror is a natural medium for me to lean towards.

How did Ao-Terror-Oa come into being?
We (Johnathan, Nick, Peter and I) made a short horror for the ABCs of Death anthology as part of their worldwide competition and came in as one of the finalist. From there, the short had a bazillion views (not literally) but it was really successful – successful enough that we qualified for NZ On Air and Youtube funding to do more of these. We thought that doing some short horrors that specifically Kiwi could be quite interesting.

You’ve had experience both in front of and behind the camera prior to Ao-Terror-Oa. How has your experience in the NZ film industry assist with creating the series?
It’s one of those things that the more you do, the better you become at it. The whole No.8 wire mentality is an awesome philosophy to live by.

In your opinion, what are the essential elements for a genuinely scary horror film?
Unpredictability and doing something that no-one’s ever done before. Sound is a big thing and extremely important in horror.

What scares you?
Horror movies – ironically. It Follows was terrifying. After watching it, I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking that there was a naked man at the foot of my bed (unfortunately not Chris Hemsworth!) dribbling goo out of his mouth.

What’s more terrifying: having writer’s block, or having one of your creations come to life?
Having one of my creations come to life is probably worse for me. I would have to check myself into an institution.

What can fans expect from you in the future?
I don’t even know what I can expect from me in the future! In the short term to answer this question, I am making a short film with the NZ Film Commission which should be extremely fun because it involves pregnancy, cravings and babies. The short is called Vaspy.

View the shorts and signup for updates from the production team at

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