Cowboys of Culture

Television, 1990 (Full Length)

Cowboys of Culture is director Geoff Steven's personal perspective on the Kiwi cinema renaissance of the 1970s. It traces the development of the local film industry from the ‘she'll be right' days when filming permits were unknown, and all that was needed to get a picture up were a Bolex camera, enthusiasm and ingenuity. Raw they might have been, but the films (Wild Man, Sleeping Dogs, Goodbye Pork Pie, Smash Palace) represented a vital new cultural force. The film features interviews with the major players, and clips from their movies. 

Cowboys and Communists

Film, 2007 (Trailer)

Jess Feast's debut feature documentary centres around the hip Berlin burlesque joint, White Trash Fast Food, and explores life in post-wall East Berlin: a place where libertines and die-hard communists co-exist but not always harmoniously. The Cowboy is Wally, an artist and chef, who escaped LA to live a life of freedom in Berlin. The Communist is Horst, an intelligent ex-journalist who lives upstairs from White Trash, and mourns for the old regime. Won Best Documentary by a young filmmaker at the Kassel Documentary Festival, 2007.

Holmes - Johnny 'The Māori Cowboy' Cooper

Television, 1990 (Excerpts)

In this short report for a 1990 edition of Holmes, Dylan Taite rocks back the clock to talk to New Zealand music pioneer Johnny Cooper. John Dix’s recently published history of NZ rock’n’roll Stranded in Paradise had resurrected interest in Cooper, the Wairoa-spawned singer who gained notice with a Bill Haley cover, then gave NZ its first homegrown rock’n’roll song with his tale of a Whanganui pie cart, 'Pie Cart Rock'n'Roll'. Aptly, Taite interviews Cooper at a Queen St cart where Cooper unslings his guitar once more: “Let’s rock and roll around the old pie cart!”

The Fastest Gun Down-Under

Television, 1985 (Full Length)

The stars in an Auckland harbour master’s eyes are of the cowboy variety in this documentary that goes behind the scenes of the Western Districts' Fast Draw Club. The westie club takes literal inspiration from its name, as its members — from truck drivers to accountants — meet in the basement of a dairy to recreate scenes from the American wild west. Director Greg Stitt aimed to explore, “the fantasies ordinary people need to survive”; and his partly-dramatised doco details the impressive preparation (and passion) that goes into the live shows and stunts.

Hunchin' Down the Track

Television, 1980 (Full Length)

Rodeo thrills and spills — Kiwi style — are on display in this documentary following two cowboys travelling the circuit in a 1950s Chrysler. They compete in events in Fairlie, Rerewhakaaitu and Warkworth, and encounter American and Australian stars along the way. Broncos, calves and bulls are ridden, wrestled or roped; but pride of place goes to spectacular shots of them using rodeo skills to capture deer by helicopter. A parade, the 'Cowboy's Prayer' and fearless rodeo clowns also feature. Legendary commercials maker Geoff Dixon (founder of company Silverscreen) directs.

Dixie Chicken - Episode Two

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of the 1987 "mainly country" music show starts with host Andy Anderson touting homegrown talent. Al Hunter sings about Queen Street’s neon cowboy. Auckland’s Working Holiday sing Aretha's blues number 'Won't Be Long' with harmonica player Brendan Power. Jodi Vaughan performs a plaintive country ditty. Gore’s Dusty Spittle suggests listening to Mum's advice about overdoing it, accompanied by an illustrative skit (with actors Mark Hadlow and Alice Fraser). Then it’s Andy’s favourite Kiwi singer, Hammond Gamble. All the guests jam onstage to conclude.

Snakeskin

Film, 2001 (Trailer and Excerpts)

For her first feature, writer/director Gillian Ashurst wanted a “big wide road movie; big skies; big long roads.” Cruising the Canterbury landscapes are small-town dreamers Alice (Heavenly Creature Melanie Lynskey) and Johnny (future Almighty Johnson Dean O’Gorman). But the duo’s adventures go awry after encountering a charming American cowboy. Reviews were generally upbeat: praising the talented cast, plus Ashurst’s ability to mix moods and genres. Snakeskin won five awards at the 2001 NZ Film and TV Awards, including best film and cinematography.

The Living Room - Series One, Episode Eight

Television, 2002 (Full Length Episode)

Brought to you from "the Samoan Embassy" (in reality the Naked Samoans' motel room) this episode of The Living Room follows the comedic theatre troupe during their time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Then it retreats to the wild west coast of the South Island, where acclaimed cinematographer Alun Bollinger reflects on his diverse life and career. Also featured is the first 'proper' exhibition of Illicit artists on K' Road (featuring the late Martin Edmond), and a visit to small town Mangaweka, setting for Michael Reihana's surrealist short film Little Gold Cowboy. 

Holmes - Glen Campbell tribute to John Denver

Television, 1997 (Excerpts)

On 12 October 1997 legendary country singer John Denver was tragically killed in a plane crash. Friend and fan Glen Campbell was touring New Zealand at the time, and he stopped by TVNZ's Auckland Network Centre for an interview with Paul Holmes, and a tribute performance in the atrium, with TVNZ staff gathering to watch. Campbell discusses his friend’s love of flying, desire to go into space, and his happiness in his final years. He covers Denver classic 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' and concludes the interview with a rendition of his own hit, 'Rhinestone Cowboy'.

Close Up - Big Dealers (featuring John Key)

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of current affairs show Close Up offers a fascinating portrait of the early days of New Zealand's foreign exchange market. Reporter Ted Sheehan heads into "the pit" (trading room), and chronicles the working life of a senior forex dealer, 25-year-old accountancy graduate John Key. The "smiling assassin" (and future Prime Minister) is a calm and earnest presence amongst the young cowboys playing for fortunes and Porsches, months before the 1987 sharemarket crash. As Sheehan says, "they're like addicts who eat, breathe and sleep foreign exchange dealing".