Artist, Musician, Director
Phil Dadson has made art and music out of videotape, PVC pipes and rocks. Having studied at Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts and earned a Masters of Arts with honours in Australia, Phil Dadson became known for performances that used improvised instruments like PVC pipes and old lampshades. He founded long-running group From Scratch in 1974. Dadson has also directed a great many experimental films, and recorded sound for documentaries. He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005. Dadson is the subject of documentaries Sonics From Scratch and Let the Earth Hum.
I still love the sound of a good PVC pipe. For me it has a wonderful thump. It hums, you know? If you get a good set of them, they have a beautiful sound. Phil Dadson in an interview with Pantograph Punch, 18 April 2018
Kiwi avant-garde artist and musician Phil Dadson is the subject of 80-minute documentary Sonics from Scratch. Dadson has conjured sounds and experimental films from all manner of objects and locales. The documentary charts his love affair with sound, including performances with From Scratch, who created percussive music from PVC pipes. Among those appearing are some of the group's rotating ensemble of members, including Don McGlashan and cinematographer Leon Narbey. Sonics from Scratch screened at the 2015 New Zealand International Film Festival.
This series sees Kiwi artists creating a new work while the cameras are rolling, in collaboration with a community that they have a personal connection with. Hosted by musician and artist Chris Knox, the series was produced by Gemma Gracewood and Neil Stichbury, from a concept by Luke Nola. Two seasons were produced for channels TVNZ 6 (2008) and TVNZ 7 (2009). Season one was nominated for Best Format/Reality Series at the 2008 Qantas Film and TV Awards. The artists included Lisa Reihana, Michel Tuffery, Phil Dadson, Karl Maughan and Seung Yul Oh.
This series, made for use as a teaching resource in secondary schools by the NZ Music Industry Commission, was produced and directed by longtime Kiwi music champion Arthur Baysting. The full series featured 47 leading acts (including Don McGlashan, the Black Seeds, Nesian Mystik, Chris Knox and Fat Freddy's Drop) talking directly to the next generation of musicians about their music and careers. They offer intimate performances of classic songs, and heartfelt advice on subjects including songwriting, recording techniques, technology and the music industry.
Launching in 2005, Artsville was a long-running documentary slot showcasing New Zealand art and artists. The subjects ranged from painters and comic artists, to theatre and dance companies. Pieces varied from hour-long documentaries to multiple items compiled together, all for a late night slot on TV One. Among the directors commissioned were Mark Albiston (award-winner Magical World of Misery), Shirley Horrocks (Questions for Mr Reynolds) and Andrew Bancroft (Book to Box Office). Artsville was repeated on Freeview channel TVNZ6 (now defunct).
Teenage gang girl Tarnz speaks with brutal honesty about her extraordinary life in this documentary. From Maraenui, Napier, Tarnz formed her own girl gang in her teens, amassed 13 convictions and was imprisoned three times. Gang Girl - Tarnz Story was a finalist at the 2007 Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival in Canada. It was made alongside another girl gang documentary, Mob Daughters; both documentaries were produced by Front of the Box Productions and screened on TV2.
With five series and close to 100 episodes, Frontseat, produced by The Gibson Group, was the longest-running arts programme of its time. Billed by TVNZ publicity as a "topical and provocative weekly arts series investigating the issues facing local arts and culture", and hosted by actor Oliver Driver, it (sometimes controversially) took a broad current affairs approach to the arts of the day, covering "all the big events, reporting the stories, and interviewing the personalities."
Pacific 3-2-1-Zero is a record of a performance of the eponymous work by renowned percussion group From Scratch. The work was devised in 1981 as a protest against nuclear testing and waste dumping in the Pacific. Ring-leader Phil Dadson, his players and their instruments — from whirling PVC pipes to biscuit tin lids — are arranged in the shape of the peace symbol. From Scratch's rhythms are cut with footage and facts of nuclear testing by director Gregor Nicholas to make for a resonant statement. The film won the Grand Prix at Midem’s 1994 Visual Music Awards.
Kaleidoscope was a magazine-style arts series which ran from 30 July 1976 until 1989. Running for many years in a 90 minute format, the show tried varied approaches over its run, from an initial mix of local and international items — including live performances — to episodes which focused on a single artist or topic. In the early 80s Kaleidoscope collected three Feltex awards for Speciality Programme. Hosts over the years included initial presenter Jeremy Payne, newsreader Angela D'Audney, future Auckland music professor Heath Lees, and Warratahs fiddler Nic Brown.
“When old and young come together to do this, it shows the strength of their convictions.” This film is a detailed chronicle of a key moment in the Māori renaissance: the 1975 land march led by then 79-year-old Whina Cooper. A coalition of Māori groups set out from the far north for Wellington, opposed to further loss of their land. This early Geoff Steven documentary includes interviews with many on the march, including Eva Rickard, Tama Poata and Whina Cooper. There is stirring evidence of Cooper’s oratory skills. Steven writes about making the film in the backgrounder.