Hardly the kind of person who lounges around waiting for the next gig to arrive, Simon Price demonstrated a knack for getting busy from an early age. By the time he began film school at age 23, Price had already acted on stage and television, directed a 40 minute kung fu short, and written a book about filmmaking.
Dunedin born and raised, Price began acting at high school. As a teen he travelled with the school acting troupe to Japan for a theatre festival, and appeared on kidult series Wildtrack to do a nature rap, during his first visit to the building in Dunedin most associated with television: the historic Garrison Hall on Dowling Street. Price later returned to Garrison Hall for an ongoing gig on skit-based children’s show The Trivia Company, created by ex TVNZ staffer Ross Johnston.
By now Price was studying history at Otago University. Somehow he managed to finish with first class honours, inbetween varied stage and television roles, and courses in theatre and film. He later adapted his history thesis into 1996 book NZ’s First Talkies - Early Film-Making in Otago and Southland.
The following year Price created his first film for Otago University’s Mothra student filmmaking contest. The edit was done on two linked video recorders, thanks to exhaustive use of the pause button. Planning to follow it with an “epic B-grade Kung Fu comedy pastiche”, Price stumbled upon the Korean prison set in Queenstown, built for Disney movie The Rescue (1988). “We dressed everyone as ninjas and ad-libbed the whole 40 minute featurette in about four days over Easter”. Avenging Master took away Mothra's top prize.
In 1998 Price won a place in the documentary course at the Film and Television School at Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts. His short B.A.S.E won best top prize at an Australian adventure festival, while Turangawaewae, an experimental short about travel and home, scored him an Australasian ATOM award, and helped him win ‘Most Daring and Innovative Graduate’.
Price spent the next eight years in Melbourne, balancing documentary and corporate projects with exhibitions of his video art — including a showing in Beijing. Alongside fellow VCA graduate David Vadiveloo he founded a media school in Alice Springs, returning annually to make films with at-risk aboriginal youth. Price and Vadiveloo also went bush for documentary In the Footsteps of Our Ancestors, based around interviews with members of the Eastern Arrernte tribe. Price’s silent comedy Busting played in a number of Australian festivals.
Back in NZ to help edit Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Price found himself earning his first front and centre editing credit on a feature, thanks to stranded in the woods thriller Blackspot (2008). Director Ben Hawker had already shot the spine of the film when Price joined; together they concocted new story elements, and ultimately won a best editing award for their work at the Rhode Island Film Festival.
In 2009 Price edited behind the scenes doco Flight of the Conchords: On Air. But it was over the next year or so that the high profile editing credits really began mounting up: with award-winning short films Day Trip and Ellen is Leaving, alongside cross-cultural drama Desert — and five weeks in Samoa, getting a taste of the culture for acclaimed feature The Orator / O Le Tulafale.
Back in a Wellington editing suite, Price and Samoan director Tusi Tamasese took up “two complimentary positions” while honing the material. “Tusi’s primary focus was ensuring the film would work for Samoan audiences and language speakers. My position was that of the outsider: how the film was working to intrigue someone who knows next to nothing about Samoa.”
Price also helped edited feature Tatarakihi - The Children of Parihaka, which chronicles a hikoi taken by children descended from inhabitants of the village of Parihaka. He also took on multiple duties (including directing) on Last Men Standing, which has had multiple Anzac Day screenings on TV3. The documentary was born from footage Chris Hay shot of Kiwi veterans returning to Italy, to commemorate the battle of Cassino.
2013’s Antarctica: A Year on Ice, a portrait of living at an end of the earth, was marshalled from a decade of location shooting by Antarctic veteran Anthony Powell. The film has won broad acclaim and multiple awards.
Price has also spent time in a crammed hotel room in Phnom Penh, sifting through over 150 hours of footage while honing Cambodian language feature Ruin. The semi-improvised fable was invited to many festivals including Venice, where it won a Special Jury Prize in its section, and the Asia-Pacific Film Festival, where it won for best editing.
Having completed editing work on John Maynard-produced revenge drama Fell, Price is also working on a number of his own directorial projects: among them are the feature-length The Wildebeest, which looks at the world from the perspective of a two-year-old boy.
Simon Price, ‘Editing on the Edge’ - Onfilm, August 2013, Page 14 (Volume 20, Number 2)
‘Last Men Standing on TV2’. Throng website Loaded 24 April 2011. Accessed 5 May 2014
Ruin press kit