Auckland company thedownlowconcept specialise in screen material with a quirky bent. Downlow broke into television with music quiz Pop! Goes the Weasel, inspired by their radio series. They made their name with a run of award-winning short films, including Only Son, the first 48 Hour film to win at the Qantas TV Awards. Alongside long-running panel show 7 Days, they created acclaimed dog-racing comedy Hounds, and were asked to write a project for US cable network FX. Debut movie Gary of the Pacific was released downunder in March 2017. It follows a real estate agent who becomes chief of a sinking island.
I loved everything about Hounds. It felt like every scene, every character, every line, and every detail has been agonised over. NZ Herald writer Chris Schulz after watching the final episode of Hounds, 13 July 2012
Pork Pie is a rare local remake — the source material is the 1981 movie which first got Kiwis lined up in blockbuster numbers, to see themselves on screen. This time round, the mini-driving rebels are played by James Rolleston (Boy), Dean O'Gorman (who also hit the road in Snakeskin) and Australian Ashleigh Cummings (TV's Puberty Blues). Writer/ director Matt Murphy is the son of Kiwi film legend Geoff Murphy, who directed the original Goodbye Pork Pie. The "reimagining" became the fourth highest grossing film in local release, during its first five days in New Zealand cinemas.
In the first feature film from high-flying creative collective thedownlowconcept (7 Days, Hounds), the company's longtime 'muse' Joss Thomson plays a struggling real estate agent who becomes the chief of his family's sinking Pacific Island — while simultaneously striving to offer his girlfriend Chloe (American actor Megan Stevenson) her dream wedding. Shot largely in Raratonga, the film also features Dave Fane and Matt Whelan (Go Girls). The trailer promises male corsets and fat jokes, plus plenty of deadpan downlowconcept mayhem.
This 2012 comedy series follows city slicker lawyer Will (Toby Sharpe) who inherits guardianship of his half-sister Lily, a stately house, a greyhound (the notoriously named Lundydixonwatson) and its live-in trainer Marty. Will’s life goes to the dogs as he enters the low-rent world of greyhound racing. The downlowconcept production won wide acclaim; On the Box’s Chris Philpott thought it New Zealand's best scripted TV comedy to date, as did the Herald's Chris Schulz. Hounds won Best Comedy at the 2012 NZ TV Awards. The six-part season screened at 10pm Fridays on TV3.
In this acclaimed comedy series the life of a lawyer goes to the dogs, when his father’s death throws him into Auckland’s low-rent greyhound racing scene. In the second to last episode, Will’s mongrel crew have a new dog, trainer Marty does community service and Will takes on a retail job. Thedownlowconcept production screened late Friday nights on TV3. Stuff television critic Chris Philpott thought it the best scripted comedy New Zealand had produced to date. Hounds won Best Comedy at the 2012 NZ TV Awards.
The humble letterbox is targeted in this Aotearoa award-nominated science show, as radio DJ James Colman and music video director Greg Page attempt to “turbo” an everyday object. Their challenge is to move the mail 50 metres from postbox to household as quickly as possible. Coleman glimpses nirvana when he scores a rocket scientist for his team. Battle lines are soon drawn between big bang theory, and slower and steadier. In the pyrotechnics and rocket love that follow, Page sounds almost plausible when he claims his big truck solution as the cleaner, greener option.
With a large helping of Kiwi ingenuity and a hint of James May, broadcaster James Coleman and director Greg Page host this popular science series where they attempt to supercharge everyday objects. Aided by people who actually know what they’re doing, Page and Coleman’s targets include toasters, letterboxes, BBQs, juicers and lawnmowers. There’s a natural chemistry between the pair. At times they look like they’re having just a bit too much fun: the show might have its practical science angle but it also channels their inner 10-year-old boys.
In Only Son Sydney (Josh Thomson from 7 Days) tries to court the girl of his dreams, but is hampered by unwanted advice from his dead father. This short comedy was made for — and won — the 2010 48 Hours filmmaking competition. The bawdy rom-com twist on the father-son relationship comes from prolific production team thedownlowconcept (7 Days, Pop Goes the Weasel and several 48 Hour successes). Only Son went on to be an upstart winner at the 2010 Qantas Awards, winning for best short and best screenplay — the first time a 48 Hour film had done so.
Since debuting in 2009, award-winning panel series 7 Days has introduced a range of Kiwi comedy talents to television audiences. Three's show takes an irreverent look at the past week in the news, with regular segments like “my kid could draw that” and “what’s the taxi driver talking about”. Jeremy Corbett hosts; the two teams of regular and guest comedians have included Paul Ego, Dai Henwood, Ben Hurley and Urzila Carlson. The show echoes the format of Britain's long-running Mock the Week. Corbett has described 7 Days as the comedy show he's always wanted to make.
Well-received comedy panel series 7 Days debuted on TV3 in 2009. The show takes an irreverent look at the past week in the news with such regular segments as “my kid could draw that” and “what’s the taxi driver talking about”. Jeremy Corbett hosts, and there are two teams of regular and guest comedians including Ben Hurley, Jeremy Elwood, Dai Henwood and Paul Ego. This episode’s special guest is Flight of the Conchords star Rhys Darby, and Labour MP Darren Hughes features in “politician in the hot seat”.
Banned by TVNZ, Headlights won Best Video and Best Use of Exploitative Tactics at Handle the Jandal 2008. "The original idea was much worse and read like a bad Charles Bukowski story. We decided we'd end up in jail if we attempted to film this terrible, terrible idea. We had to bribe 30 kids with lollies. When sugar madness kicked in they became undirectable. We then bribed them with toys which they used to hit us and each other." Jarrod Holt of thedownlowconcept - March 09
This video certainly has an out of the box concept: cameras follow the band as they spend a day at races, gambling the money given to them by NZ On Air to make their music video. The hope is that they they will win big and be able to afford an even better clip. Cue the finale, where the band don silly costumes and let loose with a bunch of fireworks. I'm Lame was nominated for a b-net Award, and came second at the Night Vision Film Competition in Dunedin. The song appeared on both EP PEP Sounds and The Sneaks' 2007 self-titled album.
Pop Goes the Weasel was C4's twisted answer to iconic British pop quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks, embracing a shambolic DIY approach with oversized props, lots of ribbing and an oiled up man in tights (the Weasel) handling the judging. It's fair to say that not every joke has aged well. This trans-Tasman stoush pits a young Dai Henwood and Evan Short from Concord Dawn, against Scott Owen from The Living End and a DJ called 'the Doctor'. Overseeing it all is quizmistress supreme, Jaquie Brown. Director Toa Fraser pops in to embarrass Henwood with a prank call.
Tim Porch (Josh Thomson) aspires to be the world’s first Polynesian badminton champion — but a Samoan has already taken the title, so Tongan will have to do. This mockumentary following the ups and downs of his quest won the 2006 48 Hours film making competition. Entrants that year were required to include a mirror, a character called Robin Slade, an eternal optimist, and the line “that’s what I’m talking about”. The team behind it, thedownlowconcept, would go on to win the contest again in 2010 — and pick up a couple of NZ Film Awards in the process — with their short Only Son.
Pop Goes the Weasel started life as a radio quiz on Channel Z and Kiwi FM, before winning a spot on youth TV channel C4. The fast and loose game show ran for three seasons. It marked production company thedownlowconcept's first foray into television. The collective would go on to create critically acclaimed comedy series Hounds and long-running hit 7 Days, another panel show adapted from radio beginnings. Quiz mistress Jaquie Brown presides over teams of comedians and musicians while a greased up, squealing human 'weasel' awards the points.