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Hero image for Don Blakeney: The early days of NZ film...

Don Blakeney: The early days of NZ film...

Interview – 2011

Don 'Scrubbs' Blakeney has a background in finance. After working overseas in the 1970s, he met Kiwi producers Grahame McLean and John Barnett. Disillusioned with the corporate world, Blakeney ended up drifting into the film industry, initially as a caterer on Sleeping Dogs. In 1979, his background in both finance and film made Blakeney the ideal first Executive Director of the newly-established NZ Film Commission. He later produced Geoff Murphy’s classic Utu. Producer John Barnett is Blakeney's guest interviewer.

In this ScreenTalk, Blakeney talks about:

  • How he got the film Commission’s first Executive Director job
  • How the commission first began
  • The early filmmakers the commission nurtured and funding philosophies back then
  • The importance of marketing New Zealand films
  • Producing Utu for director Geoff Murphy
  • How luck went against Utu with both its local and international releases
  • How early Film Commission optimism is reflected in some of today’s Kiwi feature film releases
This video was first uploaded on 1 April 2011, and is available under this Creative Commons licence. This licence is limited to use of ScreenTalk interview footage only and does not apply to any video content and photographs from films, television, music videos, web series and commercials used in the interview.
Interview - John Barnett. Director - Pat Cox. Editing - Alex Backhouse
The films that we made like Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Goodbye Pork Pie, Sons for the Return Home… these films had less than half the money put up by the film commission. The other money came from private investors and from contras and sponsorship.
– Don Blakeney on the role of the film commission in the earlier films