While still at school Paul Middleditch was a repeat winner in the Spot On filmmaking competition. As a teenager he made music videos for artists including Tex Pistol and Tim Finn. He is now a highly successful commercials director based in Australia, where his work includes the celebrated Big Ad for Carlton Draught. In 2008 he returned to Wellington to direct his third feature, the Tom Scott-scripted Separation City.
I would describe myself as… a small man with a lot of energy. When I look in the mirror, I’m still the kid I was when I was 10 who picked up a camera and made home movies with my family. Paul Middleditch, in a 2010 interview with Shots magazine
Separation City is a comedy-drama about the complications that ensue as two marriages collapse. Men's groups and midlife crises in contemporary Wellington make up the world in which the multi-national cast explores, in screenwriter Tom Scott's words, "biology and human nature". This feature marks the first solo film script by political cartoonist Scott, who honed his writing skills on a run of TV projects during the two-decade journey to bring the film to the screen. Successful commercials director, Australian-based Kiwi Paul Middleditch, directs.
"Hey you, you’ve got the moves … I can’t refuse!" Aishah and the Fan Club scored a run of pop hits in New Zealand and Malaysia in the late 80s with songs like 'Sensation' and this single (which peaked at No.8 in the charts). This bold studio-set video, directed by Paul Middleditch, won Best Music Video at the 1989 New Zealand Music Awards. With paint splashes, leather jackets, shades, silhouetted choreography, Dr Martens, and slick camera moves and editing, it’s an unmistakably 80s video, coupling the crisp pop beats with a fashion shoot or dance floor vibe.
For this lush, spacious ballad, then teenage director Paul Middleditch continues the striking visual style he had established a year earlier with his video for previous Tex Pistol hit, 'The Game of Love'. Tex (Ian Morris) wears the same outfit, while his brother Rikki is clad in the reverse — white shirt and black jeans. Backing vocalist Callie Blood appears again (although she didn't actually sing on this recording), a choir of children is added, and some behind-the-scenes shots of the crew — but the set is free of surface water or falling rain this time.
After ten years performing together, Ardijah released their debut album Take a Chance to platinum sales and a 1988 NZ Music Award for Most Promising Group. One of three Top 10 hits off the album, 'Time Makes a Wine' is punctuated by clever light direction and a bright colour palette. All the way through silhouettes, smoke and an upright bass add to the video’s visual appeal. A few questionable hairstyles aside however, it’s the bright animation, reminiscent of A-ha’s classic Take On Me video (and only a couple of years after), that proves the most eye-catching.
The video for Tex Pistol's chart-topping, electro-pop tinged remake of 'The Game of Love' is a stylish triumph for budding teenage director Paul Middleditch - and one of the high points of New Zealand music video making in the 1980s. Tex Pistol, aka former member of Th'Dudes Ian Morris, is dressed in black and white with silver tipped cowboy boots and big red semi-acoustic guitar; while the soundstage, covered in a sheen of water, and blacked out except for a handful of spotlights, is all reflective surfaces for Morris and backing vocalist Callie Blood.
The penultimate Pop Mechanix single was an exploration of carnality, anchored by chiming guitars with vocals by Andrew McLennan (Coconut Rough and 'Sierra Leone'). It was one of the first music videos directed by Spot On video competition winner Paul Middleditch, who was still at school. He went on to make videos for Tim Finn and Tex Pistol, commercials, and 2009 movie Separation City. The location was a cold, disused office. “Luckily,” says bass player Paul Scott, “we were into leather jackets, big coats and damn big hair because the place was absolutely freezing”.