Gibson Group

Spurred On: NZ and Canada Passchendaele

Interactive Documentary -


The Outline

Spurred On is an interactive documentary following NZ actor Dean O'Gorman to Passchendaele, the site of New Zealand's darkest day in WW1. Dean sets out to understand what it was really like to fight through Belgium, and uncover his personal connections to those young men buried in Passchendaele’s mud.

Our Role

Direction, production management, post-production

We Collaborated With

Antica Productions (Toronto), NZ On Air, the Canada Media Fund


The Details

The documentary is structured using two real characters. Renowned Kiwi actor Dean O’Gorman (The Hobbit trilogy) and Canadian thespian Robert Thompson return to the deadly fields of Passchendaele to find traces of family history and rediscover the reality of war.

While New Zealand’s part in the Allied attack toward Bellevue Spur on October 12th lasted just a few hours, it cost 843 NZ lives, including John and Thomas O’Gorman, the worst day in national history. Canadian forces began their two-week push on October 26th, finally advancing to gain the famous ‘ridge’ where Robert’s great-uncle George Stratford was hit by a shell on top of Bellevue Spur.

In Spurred On, each actor takes a personal journey from their own corner of the globe, uncovering genealogies from the two families who both sent five brothers to the Great War. Incorporating painstakingly researched and sourced archive stills, and extensive family research, the Canadian and Kiwi stories are told through five interlinked chapters in the online documentary. Each chapter in the documentary includes interactive video, photo and text sidebars to give historical context and extra facts. The Canadian content went live in November 2017 and will also play on CBC in Canada.

TVNZ1 transmitted a broadcast version of Spurred On October 8th in New Zealand. It also screened in the national museum Te Papa Tongarewa on the centenary, and has received extensive promotion through the official channels.


Want to know more?

Get in touch!