Morton Wilson began composing for film while playing in band Schtung. Hagen and fellow band member Andrew Hagen went on to provide music for a quartet of Kiwi movies, including The Scarecrow and Kingpin. In 1981 they moved to Hong Kong and got even busier, composing commercials. Wilson went on to oversee Schtung sound studios in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, while Hagen launched Schtung in Hollywood.
The industry is changing but ultimately it comes back to the writing, the tunes — whether it’s for a movie, a commercial or a single. If in doubt, just pick up your instrument (unless you’re a pianist, of course) and see what happens! Morton Wilson
This Depression-era road movie tails teen runaway Kate (Greer Robson) as she tags along with World War I veteran Patrick (Aussie actor Peter Phelps) — himself on the run after assaulting a repo man. The odd couple relationship grudgingly evolves as they often narrowly escape the law, and head north across the southern badlands. Director Sam Pillsbury's on the lam tale won wide praise, with Kevin Thomas in the LA Times calling it "pure enchantment". Robson's award-winning turn as the scamp followed up her breakthrough role in Smash Palace.
Kingpin was the second of a trilogy of films from Mike Walker about troubled New Zealand youth (the others were Kingi's Story and TV movie Mark II) Filmed at, and inspired by residents of Kohitere Boys Training Centre in Levin, the bros-in-borstal tale follows a group of teens who are wards of the state. Kingpin focuses on the bond between Riki (Mitchell Manuel) and Willie (Fafua 'Junior' Amiga), who along with the other kids are terrorised by Karl (Nicholas Rogers), the Kingpin of the title. It was directed by Walker, who co-wrote the script with Manuel.
In this tale of an English servant woman doing it hard down under, Lizzie (Sarah Peirse, who won a Feltex) finds herself trapped on a rundown Canterbury sheep farm alongside three men: one mean, one silent, and one simple-minded (Bruno Lawrence, in one of his favourite roles). Directed by David Blyth between his edgy debut Angel Mine and splatter-fest Death Warmed Up, this pioneer tale was written by English author Elizabeth Gowans. Newbie scribe Fran Walsh later extended the film to tele-movie length, from its original incarnation as A Woman of Good Character.
This was the last music video made by 80s band The Crocodiles before they left NZ for Australia. The clip features new band members Jonathan Swartz, Barton Price (who later found success with Aussie band The Models), and future solo star Rikki Morris, then aged 20. Singer Jenny Morris is in leopard print and pink lycra, and Rikki wears a very 80s combo of high-waisted white pants and argyle sweater, as the band clown around in a supermarket (now a Hutt Valley McDonalds). Dave Dobbyn makes a cameo appearance dressed in drag as Morris's mother.
Praising novel The Scarecrow, one critic argued that author Ronald Hugh Morrieson had melded genres together into “a brilliant, hallucinatory mixture distinctively his own". The movie adaptation is another unusual melding; a coming of age tale awash with comedy, nostalgia, and a touch of the gothic. Taranaki teen Ned (Jono Smith) is worried that the mysterious arrival in town (US acting legend John Carradine) has murderous designs on his sister. The masterful narration is by Martyn Sanderson. The result: the first Kiwi film to win official selection at the Cannes Film Festival.
This film documents Auckland's Round the Bays run. In 1980 jogging was booming, with coach Arthur Lydiard and a band of Olympic champs (Snell, Walker, etc) inspiring the way. Here, participants run and reflect, from a blind runner, to children and an army squad. Slo-mo sweat, sinew and samba shots frame the 70,000 runners as members of an infectious cult chasing the piper around the waterfront. Adidas, terry towelling and facial hair make the film a relaxed 70s update on Olympiad; directed by Sam Pillsbury it won awards at Chicago and Torino festivals.
Richard Turner made Squeeze to break the "conspiracy of silence" about homosexuality. A pioneering early portrait of Auckland's LGBT scene, Squeeze centres on the relationship between a young man (Paul Eady) and the confident executive (Robert Shannon) who romances him, then mentions he has a fiancée. The film was discussed in Parliament after Patricia Bartlett campaigned against the possibility it might get NZ Film Commission funding (it didn't). Kevin Thomas in The LA Times praised Squeeze's integrity and the "steadfast compassion with which it views its hero".
The three day Nambassa Festival, held on a Waihi farm in 1979, is the subject of this documentary. Attended by 60,000 people, it represented a high tide mark in Aotearoa for the Woodstock vision of a music festival as a counterculture celebration of music, crafts, alternative lifestyles and all things hippy. Performers include a frenzied Split Enz, The Plague (wearing paint), Limbs dancers, a yodelling John Hore-Grenell and prog rockers Schtung. The only downers are overzealous policing, and weather which discourages too much communing with nature after the first day.
Eclectic ensemble Schtung flared briefly in the late 70s. This music video sees the band clutching umbrellas and briefcases, and forming their own brigade of conservatives in suits. Occcasionally betraying their love of silly walks, they stride through Wellington Railway Station, dash madly around the wharves, and climb the steps of Parliament. The (minimal) lyrics allude to politicians failing to fulfill their promises, although they can also be read as being about a failing romance. The song's final seconds include the lines "Pour on water", from nursery rhyme 'London's Burning'.
Seventies genre-shifters Schtung hit the road in this energetic clip for their first single, donning their white boiler suits and cramming into an open-top Morris Minor. Along the way there are glimpses of one of Schtung's genius moments: signing their record deal underwater. The video was shot in Shelly Bay in Wellington, although there is a brief jump indoors when the band go latino, and Andrew Hagen grabs the microphone from vocalist Paul Jeffery. After that watch for possible slips in the space-time continuum, involving moving saxophonists and the band swapping vehicles.