Paul Oremland has spent much of his career in London, where his directing work includes documentaries and movies Like It Is and Surveillance. Since returning to New Zealand his own life has inspired a third feature, 100 Men.
Born and raised in Auckland, Oremland began making short films at high school. University studies were soon abandoned when he got involved with Auckland filmmaking cooperative Alternative Cinema.
Around the age of 20, Oremland set off for London. Like many Kiwi arrivals, he was initially in two minds about the place. But the city's sizeable screen industry would ultimately provide a wealth of opportunities, both as an editor and director. By the mid 80s he had begun winning a run of commissions from edgy public service channel Channel 4, then new on the scene. Documentary If They'd Asked for a Lion Tamer (1984) followed British drag artist David Dale and friends; it spawned a play which Oremland produced. Andy the Furniture Maker (1986), profiled a talented and rough-edged young carpenter, who director Derek Jarman (Jubilee) had taken under his wing.
By the 90s Oremland had settled in at London documentary company Fulcrum TV. There he directed everything from book review shows to primers on science fiction (Brave New Worlds). He was also mining archival footage on a run of historical projects, including The Sixties: The Beatles Decade and 1945: The Year that Changed the World (directing three episodes of each).
There have been occasional excursions into drama. In 1990 Oremland directed dark-edged TV movie The Final Frame for Channel 4, which featured Suggs (aka Graham McPherson), lead singer of ska band Madness. Suggs played a pop star whose death at an animal rights gig helps propel a hunt for images of the event.
Documentary work at Fulcrum helped keep Oremland fed, during the long process of getting his first feature film financed. Like it is (1998) chronicles a romance for a bare-knuckle boxer, struggling to come to terms with being gay. The film won praise for its grittyness and strong performances; real-life boxer and first-time actor Steve Bell starred, with ex Who singer Roger Daltrey in a supporting role as a predatory music mogul.
Oremland's second feature Surveillance (2007) is a conspiracy thriller about a man framed for having information about a royal love affair. The film stitches together a range of imagery, some of it purporting to be genuine CCTV footage.
The odd Kiwi directing project came his way in the UK, including TV3 travel doco The Big OE, and the final Mutton Birds video, 'Pulled Along By Love'. Since returning to Auckland in 2009, he has helmed Starting Over: One Year On — which catches up with four women changing their lives — and cut award-winning doco Loving in Limbo and TV's Lion Queen.
In 2017 his third feature began winning invitations to a run of festivals (including the yearly NZ International Film Festival). Documentary 100 Men weaves together the personal and the historical, as Oremland hunts down past lovers while charting a plethora of changes in the lives of gay men — not all of them for the good.
Andy Kimpton-Nye, 'Christopher Hobbs on Derek Jarman' 400 Blows website. Loaded July 2003. Accessed 25 June 2017
Paul O'Grady, Still Standing - The Savage Years (London: Bantam Press, 2012)
'Loving life through the camera lens' (Interview) - NZ News UK website. Loaded 25 January 2005. Accessed 25 June 2017