Hutt Valley-raised actor Cameron Rhodes has had an award-winning stage career, including starring as Cyrano de Bergerac in Adelaide and touring NZ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Aside from theatre and coaching work he has also done his share of screen roles, including an award-nominated turn in I’m Not Harry Jenson, the evil Prince John in NZ-shot adventure series Dark Knight, and the counsellor in 2014 hit Housebound.
John's vain, arrogant and immature, a bit of a spoilt brat. He wants Ivanhoe dead, so that he can have complete control of England. Cameron Rhodes, on playing King John in TV series Dark Knight
Billed as "an unusual mix of realism and absurdity", Penny Black follows a materialistic supermodel (Astra McLaren) who is forced to become guardian to her superhero-obsessed sister. When the two set out from Auckland for Wellington so Penny Black can try to win back her modelling contract, they meet an anarchist who offers them a whole new angle on what really matters. Partly crowdfunded, partly improvised on location across the North Island, the chalk and cheese tale marked the big screen debut of Joe Hitchcock, who based it partly on road trips he'd taken as a teen.
Described as “bloody brilliant” by horror legend Peter Jackson, Housebound follows a woman dealing with the triple threats of house arrest, potential ghosts, and having to live with her mother. Morgana O’Reilly (TV movie Safe House) is the criminal facing eight months home detention with an annoying Mum (Rima Te Wiata). Jaquie Brown Diaries director Gerard Johnstone’s film debut won near universal praise, and the remake rights sold to New Line in the US. Fangoria loved its mixture of "fantastic comedy" and mystery and it was nominated for ten Moas, including Best Film.
Web series The Factory is the largely light-hearted tale of one South Auckland family, and their love of music — though not everyone in this family agrees which type of music deserves loving the most. A $50,000 talent prize is up for grabs, and the Saumalu family are keen to compete, on behalf of the textile factory where their father and grandfather Tigi work. Only Tigi wants them to perform a traditional Samoan number. The kids would rather freestyle. The 20-part web series was first born as a hit stage musical from theatre group Kila Kokonut Kollective.
This musical retooling of the ill-fated love story began life as a concept album by ex Screaming Meemee members Peter van der Fluit and Michael McNeill. In 2010 they sent 38 songs to director Tim van Dammen, who decided to retell Shakespeare's classic romance as "a sort of trash opera — like an updated John Waters type thing". A caravan park is the canvas for a cast of beautiful young things, pop, rap, knives and beer crates. NZ Herald's Dominic Corry praised the film for its "emotionally-assured grasp of what makes this famous story so enduring".
When this popular TV One comedy-drama about misbehaving real estate agents debuted in 2013, it copped flak from real estate bosses for perpetuating negative stereotypes about the industry. Agent Anna follows Anna Kingston (played by Robyn Malcolm, who also came up with the series idea), whose husband has left her and their two teenage daughters. Needing work, Kingston turns to selling houses in Auckland's cutthroat market. The programme ran for two seasons. Theresa Healey (Shortland Street), Adam Gardiner (movie Hopeless) and Roy Billing (Old Scores) co-star.
Tigi Saumalu (Ben Taufua) has worked at an Auckland textile factory for so many years, he is presented with a useless plastic key by his palangi boss to mark the occasion. But Tigi is more excited about getting his grandchildren to represent the factory in an upcoming talent contest. That way he can “pass on the old ways” — and the old Samoan songs — to them. Only the Saumalu children are busy freestyling to a very different sound... Web series The Factory began as a hit stage musical from South Auckland-based theatre and music group Kila Kokonut Krew.
In this episode of the 2014 web series, South Auckland family the Saumulus finally make it on stage to perform in a best-of-the-factories talent quest. Tensions rise before the family debut, with teenager Tavita late to arrive. The Saumalus sneak through, but one of the judges warns that their act needs an upgrade: “this is X Factory not the History Channel.” Later a fish spill threatens to expose Tavita’s after hours work, as events at the laundry heat up. The Factory was inspired by the Kila Kokonut Krew musical stage show.
This 2014 web series follows a South Auckland family who set their sights on winning a best-of-the-factories talent quest. In the seventh episode the Saumalus have just snuck through to the next round of the quest, but patriarch Tigi doesn’t seem to have heeded the judge's advice to come back with something from “this century”. Factory boss Keith makes a shock announcement about the factory’s future: the sale of the factory threatens half the workforce. As discussions continue on how to respond to the news, Tavita gets the Romeo and Juliet blues.
In the eighth episode of this tale of family, factory and music, the Saumalus protest the sale of Murdoch Textiles and expeted loss of jobs. Indian-Kiwi student Dev (Shaan Kesha) enlists Moana in his plan to break into the boss’s office and make the workers' voices heard. Even if Dev’s blundering scheme doesn’t impress Moana, it does enable subtle marketing use of the show’s sponsorship from Telecom (now Spark) — “what’s your phone number again? 027 SHITFORBRAINS?”.
In the ninth episode of this web series, Dev (Shaan Kesha) tries to make up for his protests over the factory's impending sale to Chinese buyers: including a spraypainted message in the boss's office, calling him a 'ballbag'. Uni accounting studies pay dividends, as Dev persuades factory boss Keith (Cameron Rhodes) to call the sale of Murdoch Textiles off. There are even more surprising developments to come, after Moana introduces Dev to a Saumalu family dinner. Actor Rhodes was also seen in acclaimed 2014 horror film Housebound.
This 2014 web series follows a South Auckland family chasing a talent quest title. In this 10th episode (out of 20) the Saumalu family debates Moana’s shock announcement that she is getting engaged to Indian-Kiwi Dev. The head-girl and student DJ are a South Auckland Romeo and Juliet. Dad Kavana wants to send Moana home for some ‘Fa’a Samoa’ (‘Samoan way’) education. Meanwhile Moana finds out that Dev is already engaged, and decides to move things to the next level. The series was based on the hit stage show that debuted at the 2013 Auckland Arts Festival.
This documentary examines an unusual Aotearoa first encounter: between Māori and Russians in 1820, when Queen Charlotte Sound was visited by Fabian Bellingshausen aboard the sloop the Vostok. Alongside reenactments of crew diaries, presenter Moana Maniapoto gets a history lesson from Tipene O'Regan, and visits Russia to look at traded taonga and archive material — and also find out what the famed Antarctic discoverer was doing in Ship Cove shortly after Napoleon was sent packing from Moscow. The doco screened on Māori TV and at Australia's Message Stick Festival.
Kiwi-born Keith Park commanded the Royal Air Force division which defended London during the Battle of Britain. His command is dramatised in this Greenstone telemovie. Historians Stephen Bungay and Vincent Orange offer accounts of what happened, alongside archive footage from World War ll. This excerpt sees Park hosting Winston Churchill as his forces are stretched to breaking point by a German attack. After returning home, Park went on to chair the Auckland International Airport Committee and serve as an Auckland City Councillor. John Callen directs and narrates.
In this dark whodunit Gareth Reeves (The Cult, A Song of Good) stars as a crime writer who goes bush with strangers, while on a break from researching a story on a serial killer. Soon there’s death in the muddy Waitakere backblocks. The film marked the big screen debut of filmmaking partners James Napier Robertson and Tom Hern, en route to their high profile drama The Dark Horse. The results won support from a strong ensemble cast (Ian Mune, Ilona Rodgers), an invitation to the NZ film festival, and praise from NZ Herald reviewer Peter Calder for "smart writing and good acting".
From the duo (Matt Heath and Chris Strapp) behind bad taste TV series Back of the Y, this feature follows Randy Cambell's rocket car driven mission to be "NZ’s greatest living stuntman". Gross and petrol-fuelled palaver ensues en route to a date with speedway destiny, as Cambell romances a one-legged female Evil Knievel, and fights a not-so-death defying family curse. Scott Weinberg (Cinematical) praised this low budget "cross between The Road Warrior, Mad Magazine and Jackass" as "loud, raucous and adorably stupid" when it premiered at US fest SXSW 2007.
Created by superhero fan Stephen J Campbell, this light-hearted adventure series follows teen Ben Wilson (Carl Dixon) who discovers his father and grandad have done time as superheroes. Still getting to grips with the basics of being one himself, Ben enlists family and friends to help fight assorted villians. The show ran for three seasons, and spawned web series The Wired Chronicles and Origins. Nominated for awards in Rome and New Zealand, it picked up one in Korea. The eclectic cast included the tried (David McPhail) and the new (Hannah Marshall from Packed to the Rafters).
With its mix of quirky characters, lush scenery, and medical drama, Mercy Peak proved to be a winning formula. Produced by John Laing for South Pacific Pictures, and starring a host of NZ acting talent (Tim Balme, Jeffrey Thomas, Renato Bartolomei, et al), Mercy Peak follows the highs and lows of Dr Nicky Somerville (Sara Wiseman), who leaves the big city after discovering her partner’s infidelity. Taking up her new role at the hospital in the tiny town of Bassett, Nicky soon learns that life is full of complexities no matter the population.
A Twist in the Tale was one of a series of kidult shows launched by The Tribe creator Raymond Thompson, after he relocated to New Zealand. The anthology series spins from a storyteller (Star Trek's William Shatner) introducing a story (often fantastical) to a group of children, some of whom appear in the tales. The show featured early appearances by many young Kiwi thespians, including Antonia Prebble, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Dwayne Cameron and Michelle Ang. Although the writing team were British, some of the directors and most of the crew were New Zealanders.
This series centred on a weekly TV current affairs programme in mid-90s Wellington. Katie Wolfe stars as stroppy journalist Amanda Robbins: lured back from Australia for her tabloid style in an effort to boost the show's ratings. Tackling timely storylines and shot ‘handheld’ in the NYPD Blue-inspired style, the TV3 series was well reviewed but faced its own ratings struggles (a later series screened on TV One). It was Gibson Group’s second foray into producing a TV drama series, after Shark in the Park. A pre-Lord of the Rings Fran Walsh was a series writer.
The Gibson Group drama series centres on a team of TV journalists working on a weekly current affairs programme. Katie Wolfe plays stroppy journalist Amanda Robbins, who has been lured back to Wellington from Australia by a network boss hoping her tabloid style will help ratings. Her workmates are not so confident. In this excerpt from the start of the first episode, Robbins hits the news (literally) as she runs into a disturbed nightclubber (Katrina Hobbs) on a rainy night. A pre-Lord of the Rings Fran Walsh was one of the series writers.
In 1992 Australian soap star Craig McLachlan (Neighbours) landed in NZ, to tackle one of his only starring roles in a movie to date. McLachlan plays Ed — a WWll soldier who goes AWOL — in a story 74-year-old writer James Edwards drew from his own life. When Ed is shipped overseas with no leave, he feels obliged to make sure that his recently pregnant wife Daisy (Katrina Hobbs) is OK before he departs. But then the days become weeks. For director John Laing the road movie offered a chance to explore changing gender roles, as women discovered life beyond house and family.