Despite the misleading numbering, this October 1942 film marked the first of the National Film Unit's long-running Weekly Review series. The NFU had been established a year earlier to promote the war effort via newsreels screened in movie theatres. In a meta first clip, Kiwi soldiers watch an NFU film in a makeshift outdoor cinema. Then war readiness is demonstrated via army exercises — including on Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where “Māori and Pākehā are working together, mounting machine guns for their common defence.” Finally: Red Cross parcels are prepared for NZ prisoners of war.
The Screaming Meemees (named for a 1960s toy machine gun) formed at Rosmini College in Takapuna and were at the forefront of a post-punk wave of new bands from Auckland’s North Shore in the early 80s. The band’s first proper release ‘See Me Go’ became the first NZ single to enter the charts at No.1 (helped by pre-sales and delivery delays) and was immediately deleted. A massively popular live act, they recorded one album If This Is Paradise, I’ll Take the Bag (a nod to TV's It’s In The Bag game show) for the Propeller label but disbanded in 1983.
Producer/director Michael Firth first made his mark directing ski movie Off the Edge. A key early film in the NZ 'new wave', the documentary earned an Academy Award nomination in 1977. Firth went on to direct dramatic features Sylvia, Heart of the Stag and Vulcan Lane. But he loved the outdoors best: he went off the edge again in 1987 with zany adventure movie The Leading Edge, and was behind internationally successful TV series Adrenalize and fishing show Take the Bait.
This documentary tells the epic story of helicopter deer culling in the Southern Alps. Introduced deer had become destructive environmental pests; in the 60s entrepreneurs shifted culling from ‘man alone’ to machine-driven hunting, as deer were shot then later captured alive from helicopters. Deer Wars — Top Gun in choppers, over the beech forest — revisits the heady ‘gold rush’ days, when heli-cowboys calculated often fatal pay-offs between risk and reward. It features interviews with survivors and fearsome footage of men hanging from helicopters and leaping onto deer.
Director Peter Jackson's second feature Meet the Feebles offers even more bad taste than his debut. The irreverent, outlandish, part-musical satire is populated almost entirely by puppets, but it is by no means cute. The motley creatures are all members of a variety show that’s working up to a major performance. They include Bletch the two-timing pornographer walrus, an obese hippo femme fatale, a drug-dealing rat, and a heroin-addicted frog — in other words, something to offend everyone. Richard King writes about the creation of New Zealand's first puppet movie here.
Screened on a TVNZ arts show, this documentary looks at how the strings were pulled on Peter Jackson's low-budget puppet movie Meet the Feebles. An old Wellington railway shed fizzes with energy and imagination as a team peppered with future Oscar-winners crafts the gleefully subversive Muppets parody. Jackson muses on his influences, processes and propensity for "savage humour" in a fascinating interview. Included is footage of his childhood films — war movies and stop motion animation made with his first 8mm camera. Richard King writes about Meet the Feebles here.
English-born journalist Gordon Bick arrived in New Zealand in 1964. Within two years he was producing current affairs show Compass. His Kiwi career came to an abrupt halt when he resigned in protest over claimed government interference in a special about decimal currency. Bick put his side of the story in book The Compass Affair, and crossed the Tasman to produce current affairs for the ABC and Channel Nine.
Peter Rowley has performed alongside many Kiwi comedy legends, including David McPhail, Jon Gadsby and Billy T James. After debuting on hit 1970s sketch show A Week of It, he joined the ensembles of McPhail and Gadsby and (in 1985) The Billy T James Show. In 1994 Rowley won equal billing alongside comedian Pio Terei on Pete and Pio, before going on to co-star in McPhail and Gadsby's Letter to Blanchy.
Part of a well-known Kiwi arts family, Josh Frizzell’s screen apprenticeship involved props and design; one early gig saw him delivering prop machine guns up the Shotover River by helicopter. He went on to direct a run of music videos in the 1990s, including award-winners for Emma Paki and Shihad. Frizzell has gone on to helm episodes of The Brokenwood Mysteries and Fresh Eggs, plus TV movie Ablaze, about the 1949 Ballantyne's fire. His advertising work includes multiple inflight safety campaigns for Air New Zealand, and a break-in at the Tui Brewery. He is one of the owners of Trans-Tasman commercials company Eight.