After relocating from the UK to Auckland, James Solomon found that Karangahape Road reminded him of home. In 2015 he was a prime mover behind K' Rd Stories, a series of 10 short films celebrating the iconic street (Solomon directed two). Earlier, he won awards for his music videos (he has directed clips for Hollie Smith and Zowie) and commercials ('Oil on Canvas'). Solomon is also a cameraman and an art director.
We wanted to celebrate it while it was still cool, kind of before that retrospective nostalgia. However, by the time we had completed the project, K Road had started to change very rapidly. I think we have really recorded a special place and time just before significant change. James Solomon on K' Rd Stories, in a March 2016 interview with website Neck of the Woods
Kicking off in an inner city laundromat, this K' Rd Story travels strange places indeed. An unassuming man is going about the business of getting some clothes washed, when he realises that his clothes have disappeared mid cycle. Opening the washing machine, surprised by what he sees, he climbs in... Grant Lahood's pedigree in quirky, low or no dialogue short films dates back to the classic Snail's Pace in 1989. Peter Tait, who stars, played the hunter in Lahood's short The Singing Trophy — which scored an award at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.
This entry in 2015 short film omnibus K' Rd Stories is billed as a “love story that’s not as simple as boy meets girl”. Directed by the multi-talented Nikki Si’Ulepa (Snow in Paradise), Aroha begins with Jade (played by K’ Rd denizen and Takatāpui presenter Ramon Te Wake) being stood up at a bar on the iconic strip. Jade’s spirits are lifted by an especially optimistic bartender (Hans Masoe), who muses about aroha, honesty and being open to experience — “I think he chickened out because he’s afraid of love”. But is the bartender’s advice too good to be true?
After a surprising opening, this short film from James Solomon unravels an edgy tale about a couple playing power games in the bedroom — games where the lines between stimulation and insult are not always easy to define. Josh McKenzie (who played Dan Carter in The Kick, and the slimy millionaire in Filthy Rich) is the man tying up his girlfriend (played by Morgan Albrecht, who also takes centre stage in Put Your Hands Together, Please, another of the K' Rd Stories). Then he gets told he is not doing a very good job of it. Warning: contains offensive language.
A light take on unfortunate circumstances, Broke offers the simple story of a not-so-simple mission to buy some milk. Armed with only the meagre change he can scrape from his messy apartment, Billy (Dan Veint) is affronted on his numerous trips to and from the dairy by a homeless man (Bruce Hopkins) asking for the spare coins he doesn't have. Conflict is brewing. Broke was inspired by a real life incident experienced by writer/ director James Solomon — who first came up with the idea of the K’ Rd Stories series of short films. Billy also turns up in another K' Rd Story, The Event.
A woman running an Auckland laundromat finds herself accosted by a drug addict. A frustrated customer struggles with a machine that is out of order and ruining her expensive clothes. Somewhere across the city police are on their way to a drug bust. However all is not what it seems on Karangahape Road, and the consequences look to be life altering. The three tales in this film were made as part of NZ On Air funded K’ Rd Stories, a collection of short films which all tell stories set around Auckland’s most legendary, notorious, and arguably most beloved street.
K' Rd Stories was a 2015 series of shorts celebrating one of Auckland’s most colourful strips. In this entry, Dan and Dwayne are “two lovable hustlers with an entrepreneurial spirit trying to scratch a living on the fringes of K Road”. $cratch documents the pair’s efforts to gain entry to the Las Vegas strip club, set up a pop-up tinny shop, and find a girlfriend (“a lot of girlfriends I had in the past gave me nothing but children!”). Dwayne is played by Dwayne Sisson, who co-starred with $cratch director Clint Rarm in Zoe McIntosh’s 2013 rogue-life tale The Deadly Ponies Gang.
After overhearing a parental argument which shows no signs of ending, a young boy (Nico Mu) decides to wander out onto the streets. Soon he is caught up in the K Road nightlife, clutching his sushi. Then a chance meeting with a talkative homeless woman (Verity George) and her dog offers him a new perspective. Inspired by an old woman who gave out mussel fritters to bus drivers, writer/director Karyn Childs set out with this short film to show K Road as a place where people of many backgrounds can feel they belong. Fritters was one of ten K' Rd Stories made in 2015.
Jane Sherning Warren’s satirical portrait of the artist as a young woman was one of a series of short films exploring life on the colourful K Road strip. Jaded Arlette (Morgan Albrecht) endures a barrage of art-speak as her posse saunters from her Artspace exhibition opening to Verona Cafe. When the ridiculous art theory of her partner leaves truth far behind, she challenges his cred, and a chase ensues. A drag queen with a pool cue comes to her rescue, and she (and the audience) get an unexpected lesson in how people's identity is a performance.
A trio of mysteriously bloody and bruised women order tea in a cafe in Auckland's St Kevin's Arcade. The sugar debate gets a K Road twist as they talk boobs, revenge porn, and wonder if the sugar bowl has drugs hidden in it (riffing off a local urban legend). A trip to the toilet before last orders sees the cafe transforming into a dance floor, providing a groovy testimonial to the imaginative powers of the sugar hit. This edition of the series of short films exploring life on K’ Rd was directed by Roseanne Liang (My Wedding and Other Secrets), and stars the actors from her web series Flat3.
Waking up with a vicious hangover after a big night out, Seff (Dahnu Graham) wanders Karangahape Road in need of keys to get into his house. Seeking only his flatmate and a flat white, Seff finds himself harrassed by all about a lewd act he has no memory of. Matters are made worse by the dubious company of Jeremy, who provides a running commentary while playing constant guitar. The black comic short was made as part of the K’ Rd Stories series, which celebrate the quirks and qualms of Auckland’s most notorious, and beloved road. Warning: contains some offensive language.
Writer Stephen Sinclair’s feature directing debut was inspired by a Russian couple who sailed to Aotearoa in a lifeboat. From there, he created this witty and unusual love story about Mischa (Stephen Papps) — an uncompromising filmmaker fallen on hard times — and his wife, looking for a country more appreciative of his art. But Mischa also has to reconcile his art with his humanity — with help from his neighbour (Stephanie Tauevihi, in an award-winning performance). The 15 minute making of documentary offers a cautionary tale for creatives looking to work with poultry.
A young taxidermist lures her unsuspecting prey deep into a copse before flaying him alive - yes it's another stunning, if not a little macabre offering from the Fish'N'Clips stable. In this gorgeously shot clip, James Solomon presents a grisly affair, complete with bird butchery, knitwear and glass eyes, while the band acquit themselves extremely well with formidable performances all round.
Gary Cradle (Gareth Reeves) wants to go straight, but has to face up to a drug habit, family dysfunction, and the burden of guilt over a past sin. Gregory King's redemptive recovery yarn debuted at the Rotterdam Film Festival. King's second feature won Qantas Film and TV Awards for the best film made for under $1 million, and Ginny Loane's camerawork. Actors Reeves and Ian Mune (playing his far from supportive father) were also nominated. In February 2009 the film gained media attention after being made available to watch free online, for 24 hours.
Thanks to its control of light and texture, this is surely one of New Zealand's more luxurious music videos. As the song progresses, performer Hollie Smith takes on the persona of the central figure in a series of classic artworks — from the Mona Lisa, to a portrait of Frida Kahlo, to Edouard Manet's 1882 painting of a Parisian barwoman at the Folies-Bergère nightclub. Director James Solomon was later the prime mover behind 2015 web series K'Rd Stories.