Thanks to a father who flew Lancaster bombers in the RAF, Nigel Hutchinson grew up in various parts of England, and did time in Malta. After leaving school he played drums in the Bo Street Runners — music legend Mick Fleetwood later took over the sticks, so that Hutchinson could concentrate on a day job as a press officer at the London arm of Walt Disney Productions. He went on to join a company formed by David Hemmings, star of classic swinging 60s movie Blow-Up.
Hutchinson handled publicity on hit comedy Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1968) and historical epic Cromwell (1970). Involved with distribution and marketing, he also attended a number of film markets, including Cannes.
Hutchinson had studied film at an art school on the edge of London, and was keen to get a more hands-on involvement in filmmaking. After meeting Kiwi cinematographer Graeme Cowley, he learnt that New Zealand television was in a time of expansion. The two hatched a plan. In 1974 they returned to Wellington from London with a bunch of secondhand filmmaking gear, and launched two companies: production company Motion Pictures Limited, and rental outfit Film Facilities.
While working with the talented Geoff Murphy on a commercial on the East Coast, Hutchinson was shown a hand-written screenplay for Goodbye Pork Pie. Impressed, he offered Murphy any help he could. Hutchinson and Cowley did a deal to work on the film, and defer the costs of hiring camera equipment. Co-producing with Murphy, Hutchinson worked to bring the road movie in on a tight shooting budget of $450,000 (he also cameos on screen, as a dairy owner in Gore). Meanwhile as camera operator, Cowley found himself dangling off moving vehicles in precarious positions.
Upon release in 1981, Pork Pie became a local blockbuster, and a solid seller overseas. It was the first movie of the Kiwi film renaissance to recoup its budget in its home territory alone.
In 1981 Hutchinson produced Motion Pictures doco Jetstream, an ambitious chronicle of an international jet boat race held down under. Graeme Cowley directed. Later Cowley ran Film Facilities alone, with Hutchinson concentrating on producing and directing commercials through Motion Pictures.
Especially busy through the 1980s, Hutchinson continued to make commercials. Along the way he directed screen talents ranging from Brit imports Dennis Waterman (for Ford), Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal (Arnott's biscuits) to cricketeer Richard Hadlee (Caltex). He also picked up a number of major advertising awards, including a Gold Lion at Cannes, a Mobius and a coveted Gold Cleo.
He spent time on the board of Film New Zealand, and chaired organisation Friends of the New Zealand Film Archive.
Hutchinson was a friend to filmmaker Gaylene Preston, and provided a quiet space near his Picton home where she could work on the script for her WWll passion project Home by Christmas (2010). Hutchinson later signed on to the film as executive producer, and directed this documentary on the film's making. The opening shot of the movie was taken by him.
Nigel Hutchinson passed away on 23 March 2017. He was 75.
Nigel Hutchinson, Producer (Interview) - from Goodbye Pork Pie - Director's Cut (AMA Productions, 2005)
Jane Clifton, 'Pork Pie goes big-time' - The Dominion, 16 April 1981
James Croot, 'Goodbye Pork Pie producer passes away' Stuff website. Loaded 27 March 2017. Accessed 27 March 2017