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Greg Stitt


Auckland born, Australian-based Greg Stitt has directed both documentaries and short films.

Stitt studied English and History at Auckland University. In the mid-70s he joined the Government-funded National Film Unit, where he would take on multiple roles including editing and directing. Among the films Stitt worked on was the Sam Neill-directed Architect Athfield (as editor) and was one of the trio behind this film on the development of the Beehive building in Wellington.

In the early 80s Stitt went freelance, and contributed to a number of short films. His extensive documentary work includes directing 1979's A Fair Deal, which examines the rise of poverty in New Zealand. Produced for Corso, the film met a hostile reaction from then PM Robert Muldoon.

In 1983 Stitt wrote and directed episodes of The Adventure World of Graeme Dingle for the education department, and The Fastest Gun Down-Under for television, though worries over violence meant the later production took 18 months to reach the screen. Stitt said that he was forced to make "a large number of arbitrary cuts ... The Head of Programme Standards thought that the programme was too violent and didn't explain its intentions clearly enough." Fastest Gun follows members of a club in Auckland's western suburbs who meet to dress up as cowboys, and stage fake gunfights. The half-hour film intercuts documentary material with club members recreating scenes from the Wild West.

Three years later Stitt was one of seven filmmakers invited to contribute to anthology TV series About Face (1986). The series of one-off films was made to showcase rising filmmakers, and give them valuable drama experience. Stitt's project, A Fitting Tribute, was amongst those chosen from around 150 scripts. Co-written with Alan Smythe and based on a story by noted writer CK Stead, A Fitting Tribute is a mockumentary about the myth-making behind a Kiwi flying legend who has disappeared.

Stitt has spoken of being interested in "the fantasies ordinary people need to survive". The director's most ambitious Kiwi project is probably 50-minute comedy drama Just Me & Mario, the tale of a Mario Lanza-obsessed young man who discovers a woman may actually be interested in him romantically. The film marks a rare lead role by comic actor Mark Hadlow.

Just Me & Mario's $250,000 funding was secured from the New Zealand Film Commission, on Stitt's third attempt. After his final script was completed - working with Scarecrow scribe Michael Heath - Stitt was encouraged by the Commission to rework it into a feature. He didn't.

"I like films with a tight structure," Stitt told Onfilm writer Shelley Clement in 1989. "You can't just add 20 minutes onto something. It would have meant starting all over again."

He also directed one-off TV drama Coal Face (1997), which centres on the madam of a masage parlour fighting to keep her business afloat.

Stitt's documentary work includes pieces on possum trappers, sexuality, and photographer Peter Peryer. He directed The Dark Forest, a Work of Art doco chronicling the creation of a dance work by Michael Parmenter. In 1987 he and Peter Hawes shared a local Gofta award for writing documentary Goldie: A Good Joke.

Greg Stitt has also worked as first assistant director on a number of New Zealand's more challenging feature film shoots, including Vincent Ward's big-budget The Navigator, and the stylish Peter Wells/Stewart Main collaboration, Desperate Remedies. Assistant Directors carry out logistical duties for the director, which can include helping organize scenes, calling crew to the set, and contributing to film schedules. Stitt later served as associate producer on Wells' The Mighty Civic.

Now based in Australia, Greg Stitt has often worked on history-related projects for Iguana Films. His Australian work includes Diverted to Delhi. This 2002 documentary on international call centres in India has sold to 20 countries. Stitt also co-directed (with Iguana founder Jenny Ainge) 2008's The Sexual Life of Us, which examines changing attitudes to sexuality in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald called the two-parter "a sensitive, intelligent documentary on a subject few would find uninteresting".

Sources include

Greg Hassall, 'The Sexual Life Of Us'(Review) - Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March 2008
Lawrence McDonald, Genre Benders & Grandes Buffs - A Revisionist Micro-history of 25 years of New Zealand film (Exhibition Catalogue) (Wellington: City Gallery, 1994)