Book Reviews » Off The Tops and Into The Trees

April 2nd 2017

DVD Stealth Films
Reviewed by Daryl Crimp
RRP $44.95
Available @

Specialist safari cameraman, Steve Couper, is the man behind Stealth Films, a small New Zealand company dedicated to producing quality hunting and fly fishing DVDs, and still photography. With a number of DVDs to his credit, including Flashing Antlers, Himalayan Tahr, and Stealth with a Fly, Steve has just released his latest, Off The Tops and Into The Trees. As with Stealth’s previous titles, the most obvious trait is professionalism: filming, editing, and production. So it is a quality product worthy of a price tag and in a different league to social media and YouTube footage. Off The Tops and Into The Trees reintroduces the viewer to hunter, Grant Banhidi, who embarks on two very different ROAR hunts: open tops stalking in Otago and a rafting hunt in Fiordland. From the outset the photography is excellent and Steve is skilled at setting the scene and building the framework of a story with the camera. He captures the essence of hunting the ROAR in disparate surroundings and with deft use of camera and editing, creates an interesting subtext of ‘man alone in the wilderness’. Grant is comfortable in front of the camera and does a good job of carrying the viewer with him through ‘piece to camera’ dialogue, useful tips, and up close encounters with belligerent stags. A difficulty with one-hunter situations and monologue, is that it does create a linear storyline that can feel one dimensional. It would be nice to see Steve introduce voice overs into his work, as I think it would add depth and richness to his nicely crafted storylines. It would also lessen the temptation to rely on ‘hunt summaries’ over the carcass, because explanation and additional information can be overlaid by a narrator, obviating the need for the hunter to explain himself after the hunt. The DVD also features a West Coast chamois hunt with Tim Buma, again a solo foray. As with the previous hunts, this is beautifully filmed, informative, entertaining, and typifies what alpine hunting is about. It also proves that Steve understands this genre, which is borne out through post production and editing: judicious use of appropriate music to set ambience, use of natural sounds to give the story texture and momentum, obvious use of quality sound equipment and camera gear, nice cut away shots, and use of flora and fauna shots to give depth to the storyline. Nicely done. Off The Tops and Into The Trees is worthy of a place in the hunter’s DVD library.