Low-tech legend Chris Knox is an accomplished musician, animator, writer, cartoonist, and filmmaker. The former punk shaman brings a consistently energetic eclecticism to all his work no matter what medium it forms in, his particular genius taking full flight in the DIY aesthetic of his films and videos.   

Shambling amateurism, possibly endearing, definitely homemade and unique. Knox, when asked asked how a good friend would describe his style

Screenography

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Funny Business - Excerpts

1988 - 1991, Animator - Television

A selection of sketches from this award-winning skit based comedy series featuring Willy de Witt, Ian Harcourt, Peter Murphy and Dean Butler (with occasional animation by Chris Knox). The Hoons display their all of their charm and tact at the beach — but cruising for action (in a car truly worthy of them) results in a heated confrontation with one of their rivals. The classic Norman the Mormon also features, alternative Dunedin bands of the 1980s are lampooned and Lucy Lawless makes her TV debut in an ad spoof that anticipates her future role in Spartacus.

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Radio with Pictures - 17 June 1984

1984, Subject - Television

RWP presenters past (Barry Jenkin aka Dr Rock) and present (Karyn Hay) discuss clips selected by Jenkin whose choices very much reflect his musical epiphany at the hands of punk in the late 70s. This segment features three local acts and provides the opportunity to see a somewhat distant Johnny Volume (guitar in the Scavengers on their classic 'Mysterex') and to observe Chris Knox's considerable musical and visual progression from the punk of the Enemy to the altogether more experimental Tall Dwarfs (with one of Knox's classic animated clips). 

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bro'Town - Morningside Story

2005, As: Chris Knox - Television

This hit animated series about five Auckland school kids was created by Elizabeth Mitchell and theatre group Naked Samoans. This episode sees Vale (Oscar Kightley) dealing with deadlines, punch-ups and prima donnas as he rushes to write and direct the school musical. In the audience are HRH Prince Charles, Chris Knox, Scribe and Helen Clark, who all end up joining in during a showstopping final number about togetherness. "Stop the violence. We're honkies and Asians, horries and curry munchers. Morningside for life."

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The Joy of Sex

1999, Director - Music video

Wild bright colours, manic animation, and a “where do babies come from?” message makes this clip seem like a freaky, grungy version of a health education video. But being Knox it’s not going to be a message seen in a classroom anytime soon!

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Not Given Lightly

1989, Director - Music video

Chris Knox directs his own face in this video for his classic Kiwi love song. The camera gradually pulls out from an extreme close up of Knox's face to a living room full of family and friends. Jump-cutting on the beat, Knox, with trademark simple-but-effective style, effectively fuses lyrics, song and an impassioned performance. Interestingly, in his ScreenTalk interview, Knox says he now regrets using a solarising video effect in the later part of the clip.  

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Nothing's Going To Happen

1981, Director - Music video

Chris Knox mines his 1981 surroundings for this stop-motion clip, including setting fire to his lounge. On the telly are the Springboks and protests, newsreader Tom Bradley and a Stars on 45 countdown. A full two decades before Final Cut Pro made homespun hip, and when directors like Michel Gondry started popularising the craft aesthetic. Legend.

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The Face of Fashion

1990, Director - Music video

Indie legend Chris Knox puts the posturing of Movember to shame in this animated single-frame clip. Knox goes from long hair to no hair, hairless to hirsute, bald to bearded, and every style in between. Has there ever been a more effective choreographing of one’s own personal style and grooming? A DIY high concept masterclass of Knox's directing talents. Brilliant!

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Caroline's Dream

1983, Director - Music video

Directed by Chris Knox, this performance-based video features assorted strange props including a doll, a mannequin and half a pig's head. The song title is Caroline's Dream, and the video has a dreamlike quality, or should that be nightmare? And what is Chris Matthews doing writhing about on stage with his pants undone?

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Zilch!

1989, Composer - Film

This Richard Riddiford-directed comedic thriller plays out in pre-crash 80s Auckland with the CBD skyline changing daily, brick-sized phones, shadowy corporations on the rise and the share market on everyone's lips. With a second harbour crossing due to be announced, a telephone operator (future events maestro Mike Mizrahi) and a waitress moonlighting as a dominatrix (Lucy Sheehan) become ensnared in a web of corporate greed and blackmail. Chris Knox contributes the soundtrack, and extensive outdoor sequences include a memorable chase scene at Kelly Tarlton’s.

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My Only Friend

2000, Director - Music video

Chris Knox has described this love song as being “about as naked as I get” and “utterly heartfelt in a way that ‘Not Given Lightly’ only hints at”. So it’s no surprise the video is perhaps his most personal, with striking images of his long-time partner Barbara Ward’s face, sometimes projected on and merged with Knox’s own image. Mix in some classic low-tech Knox animation and the simple big red heart image of the Beat album cover - and it’s a poignant little gem.

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Godzone Sheep

1995, Subject - Television

A wry tribute to sheep in NZ culture. Thoughtful but humorous interviews with David Geary, Chris Knox, Dick Frizell and Michael Parekowhai pull the wool away from our collective eyes and examine NZ's much-ridiculed relationship with sheep. Ovine artists' images, souvenirs, pets, shows for tourists, and songs and plays feature. The doco also examines their foundational role in the country's economy. This was one of the first documentaries made by Greenstone Pictures, which has gone on to become one of NZ's top TV production houses.

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Inside Story

1993, Director - Music video

Scenes of ordinary domestic activities such as cooking, knitting and doing the washing feature with the pixelated face video effect usually reserved for criminals and the like. Knox doesn't appear in the video, but directs in his usual simple but slyly clever way.

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The Brain that Wouldn't Die

1984, Director - Music video

The video for this track from the Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster EP features expressionist shadows, odd science experiments in the basement, Frankenstein-like freaks, a flickering TV set, and an amateur brain transplant — demonstrating clearly that grunge-master Chris Knox is a major horror fan.

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Half Man, Half Mole

1995, Director - Music video

A plasticine masterpiece by Chris and sculptor Barbara Ward (with whom he shares two children) comes in the twisted style we have come to know and love. High/low-lights include a gruesome impaling and spit roasting, self mutilation on a grand scale (including extreme acupuncture) and general addled paranoia. God bless CK.

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Get A Life

1993, Director - Music video

Chris Knox wears a Madonna head-set mic and John Lennon sunglasses, with a t-shirt and bright yellow shorts, as he walks along Auckland's Ponsonby Rd singing and playing guitar. In background inserts Knox himself plays a mad air-guitar-playing chorus and censor. Very simple, but full of cheek and characteristic CK energy. 

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Stumpy

1997, Director - Music video

In 1994 Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate decided they needed more dwarfs. Having released dozens of songs as duo Tall Dwarfs, they asked fans to send in rhythm tracks, then used selected results as creative fuel for their 1997 album Stumpy. This short film brings the Dwarfs' gleefully low-fi approach to the world of album promotion. Knox and Bathgate alternate performances of various tracks from the album (including some naked keyboarding from Knox) with appearances by various offspring, mates and musicians, free-associating on the word stumpy.

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Turning Brown and Torn in Two

1987, Director - Music video

Chris Knox's grungy but gorgeous single frame animation suits this mournful song perfectly. the sequence offering multifarious images of what “turning brown” might mean - from a deep tan to race-swapping - is a particular delight. The shot of Knox's daughter Leisha as a toddler, with the scratched in message "there is always hope" gives the clip a surprisingly poignant ending. In his ScreenTalk interview, Knox says it was a technical problem that led to him scratching the film in the style of his hero Len Lye.

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My Dumb Luck

1990, Musician - Music video

Chris Knox's partner, artist Barbara Ward, directed this promo for 'My Dumb Luck' (from the LP Seizure) - a fun black and white animation featuring a troupe of crazy skeletons. Dem bones disperse, disintegrate and do their discombobulating thing in this delightful dance clip set to the manic beat of Knox's song.

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Phil's Disease Day 1

1984, Director - Music video

A simple line drawing animation for this little ditty from the Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster EP. The video features smoking sharks, animated versions of the Slugbucket character, Alec Bathgate, and Chris Knox himself. It’s fitfully low-tech as usual, but the clip still manages to use correct apostrophes throughout!

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One Fell Swoop

1995, Director - Music video

More DIY ingenuity from the man who has made an art form out of simplicity. Who would have thought such a basic idea as type-written words flashed on the palm of an opening and closing hand could make such a mesmerising music video?

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Fragile

1998, Director - Music video

NZ On Air funding gave director Chris Knox a little more budget than usual and it looks like he enjoyed the experience. Knox and Alec Bathgate perform with bandaged balaclava-like heads and weird painted face masks - English Patient meets a K-Road flower cult - while an upside down world flickers in the background. Mad but great.

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The Slide

1988, Director - Music video

This is one of Chris Knox's earlier video making efforts, and, like many Knox clips, was shot on location in his own Grey Lynn backyard. Knox and fellow Tall Dwarf Alec Bathgate feature in flickering TV screen images, as do scenes of ordinary domestic life. The strange comedy and tragedy face masks look like they're carved out of mouldy orange peel: a very Chris Knox attempt at making composting fun!

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Phil's Disease Day 4

1984, Director - Music video

More doodle-tastic animated craziness for another short track from the Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster EP. This one is slightly more complex and Len Lye-ish than its partner Phil’s Disease Day 1.

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Fork Songs

1991, Director - Music video

A compilation of four short ditties from the Tall Dwarfs’ Fork Songs album - ‘Wings’, ‘Lowlands’, ‘Oatmeal’, and ‘Two Humans’. The linked clips all feature assorted forms of stop frame animation and film scratching - Wings has a hand-drawn animated border; Lowlands uses the phone book as a background for a range of animated doodles; Oatmeal does unspeakable things with two raw chickens and other meat products; and Two Humans flickers through what seems like hundreds of different human faces. Simple but clever, as is the Chris Knox way.

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Gluey Gluey

1998, Director - Music video

Gluey Gluey is an ode to snot and other gross bodily functions - and the clip illustrates this theme with disgusting relish. Like a Roald Dahl story imagined with song: giant nose-picking shots, snot eating, underpants itching, and more. Not for hygiene freaks or the generally faint-hearted.

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Backch@t

1998 - 2000, Presenter - Television

Backch@t was a magazine-style arts and culture show that appealed, from the opening acid-jazz theme tune, to a literate late-90s arts audience. Fronted by media personality Bill Ralston, the show included reporters Mark Crysell and Jodi Ihaka, and Chris Knox appears as the weekly film reviewer. In keeping with Ralston’s journalistic background, Backch@t took a ‘news’ approach to the arts, debating topics in the studio and interviewing the personalities, as well as covering the sector stories.