Psychology graduate Justin Pemberton's screen persona can be split into two. His documentary work includes two Qantas award-winners: motor-racing story Love, Speed and Loss and 2007's The Nuclear Comeback, plus acclaimed Kiwi Olympic saga The Golden Hour. He has also worked on many music projects, from the video for Bic Runga hit Drive to docos on the NZSO and Anika Moa.
Its makers deserve gold medals ... this was our Chariots of Fire. Just hope they show it to the team in London. Russell Baillie reviewing The Golden Hour, NZ Herald 26 July 2012
This documentary tells the story of NZ sport’s ‘golden hour’, when on 2 September 1960 in Rome, two Arthur Lydiard-coached running men won Olympic gold: 21-year-old Peter Snell in the 800m, and Murray Halberg in the 5000m shortly after. The outlier triumph tale mixes archive footage with recreations and candid interviews (Halberg’s battle with disability and doubt is poignant). NZ Herald critic Russell Baillie praised the result as “riveting” and “our Chariots of Fire”. It screened on TV prior to London 2012 and was nominated for a 2013 International Emmy Award.
Frequent collaborators singer Anika Moa and director Justin Pemberton cross paths again for the music video of Moa's 'Standing in this Fire' from her 2008 album In Swings the Tide, her first, slightly countrified album for EMI. In a tastefully furnished room, Moa wakes in a bed of chocolate satin sheets only to find the day is nearly done for her and the mysterious bedmate sleeping next to her. Moa exhorts her lover, “please don't be mean to me 'cos I really tried ...”, before stripping the duvet off the relationship to see what's underneath.
A documentary about motor-racer Kim Newcombe, who turned heads in the 70s on a König motorbike he developed and designed himself. He was killed racing in 1973 and posthumously came second in that year's World 500cc Grand Prix. The film mixes interviews and underdog triumph on the track scenes, with Super 8 footage of family life on the circuit, and poignant wife-of-maverick reflections from his widow Janeen. Love, Speed and Loss won best documentary at the 2007 Qantas TV Awards and Air NZ Screen Awards for best documentary, directing, and editing.
The Shipwreck series told dramatic stories of mystery, heroism and tragedy at sea while exploring eleven of the notable shipwrecks in NZ's maritime history. In each episode tales of buried treasure, massacre, death and survival are evocatively retold, and presented by actor Paul Gittins. Wreck stories included The Boyd, The Orpheus and The Ariadne. This Greenstone Pictures production won Best Information Programme at the 2000 Qantas Media Awards.
When Bic Runga broke out in 1996, 'Drive' was the lead single off her hit album of the same name. Opting to stay with the simplicity of her original demo paid off, with the song earning then 20-year-old Runga the APRA Silver Scroll Songwriting Award that year. Director Justin Pemberton wisely creates a video that matches the song. Alternating black and white with colour gives a moody feel without drawing attention to itself, leaving Bic to deliver a delicate performance on a song that would have a major impact on her career.
Director Justin Pemberton takes this love song by Paul Casserly and Fiona MacDonald (from the fourth Strawpeople album) and transforms it into an exercise in noir influenced, brooding unease. His video takes place over a night at a rural motel (with MacDonald as a receptionist and Casserly up to no good with a range of medical equipment). A tarot card-reading, yoga-practising new-ager, a traveller with unexplained cages, and random appearances from stringed instrument-playing senior citizens contribute to the growing sense of disquiet.
Condemned as "designer news" before it had even been to air, Newsnight was TV2's foray into late night news for a younger audience (with one eye on the success of TV3's Nightline). Strongly influenced by the celebrity and human interest focus of women's magazines, it received an unsuccessful BSA complaint for not covering a major story (a teacher's strike). Simon Dallow made his TV debut alongside Lorelei Mason and then Alison Mau — while Marcus Lush's idiosyncratic take on the world earned the show a degree of cult (if not always critical) success.