If ever a Kiwi screen product merited the moniker 'Pasifika tribal fusion', it is this 1998 performance-based short. In Ahi Ataahua veteran cinematographer Warrick ‘Waka’ Attewell (Starlight Hotel, Poi-E) directs the talents of composer Gareth Farr, choreographer Mika and percussion group Strike. The title translates as ‘beautiful fire’, and Attewell’s camera circles a furnace of Strike drummers framed by harakeke and toi toi flowers. At the core of the elemental — fire, water — set is performer Mika, whose body (dressed by Pacific Sisters) channels Farr’s score.
Douglas Lloyd Jenkins and Nick Ward's arts road trip reaches Wellington where Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis of Indian Ink Theatre Company discuss their acclaimed play 'Krishnan's Dairy'. Dancer Ross McCormack reflects on his journey from building site to dance school; and percussion group Strike incorporate movement and staging into their work. Ceramic artist Raewyn Atkinson is exploring the textures of Antarctica and there's a visit to the Dowse Art Museum to meet jeweller Peter Deckers and to view an exhibition of textile designer Avis Higgs' work.
Pacific 3-2-1-Zero is a record of a performance of the eponymous work by renowned percussion group From Scratch. The work was devised in 1981 as a protest against nuclear testing and waste dumping in the Pacific. Ring-leader Phil Dadson, his players and their instruments — from whirling PVC pipes to biscuit tin lids — are arranged in the shape of the peace symbol. From Scratch's rhythms are cut with footage and facts of nuclear testing by director Gregor Nicholas to make for a resonant statement. The film won the Grand Prix at Midem’s 1994 Visual Music Awards.
"I love the idea of bringing sexiness into the classical arena ..." Made for TVNZ's Artsville series, documentary Farr From Heaven follows Gareth Farr composing and rehearsing a variety of musical pieces, from stage plays to a piece for percussion and orchestra. Written and directed by Roz Mason and narrated by Farr, the documentary shows the versatility of his work as a classical composer and performer (including as transvestite Lilith Lacroix). The full range of his creative process is captured, from composing and arrangement failures, to successful world premieres.
This collaboration between dancer Douglas Wright and director Gregor Nicholas was one of a series of music and movement-based shorts that established Nicholas’ reputation. A dramatised film noir sequence leads to a cross-dressing dance duel between Wright and Debbie McCulloch, shifting between an Orwellian cityscape and retro nightclub. Wright choreographs the bodies, and Nicholas the bold and sensual visual rhythms (shot by Stuart Dryburgh). Nicholas went on to direct high profile commercials and movie Broken English. Wright passed away in 2018.
Kiwi avant-garde artist and musician Phil Dadson is the subject of 80-minute documentary Sonics from Scratch. Dadson has conjured sounds and experimental films from all manner of objects and locales. The documentary charts his love affair with sound, including performances with From Scratch, who created percussive music from PVC pipes. Among those appearing are some of the group's rotating ensemble of members, including Don McGlashan and cinematographer Leon Narbey. Sonics from Scratch screened at the 2015 New Zealand International Film Festival.
Released in April 1977, 'It Doesn't Matter Anymore' became Mark Williams' second number one single. The singer funks it up in bell-bottoms and afro, while circled by cameras on the set of long-running music show Ready to Roll. Abandoning the violins of the Buddy Holly/Paul Anka original in favour of percussion and horns, producer Alan Galbraith's arrangement demonstrates that breakup songs can be catchy indeed. By the end of 1977, Williams and Galbraith had decamped for Australia. Williams would ultimately take over vocals for Dragon.
In 1985 the team from kids TV show Spot On produced a charity song for that year’s Telethon. Presenter Ole Maiava took lead vocals, backed by Eastbourne's Muritai School Choir. Spot On co-presenters Sandy Beverley and Helen McGowan helped out on percussion. The song was produced by veteran TV composer Terry Gray (who wrote the 'We are the Boys' Chesdale commercial) and guitarist/commercials composer Rob Winch ( ‘Cruisin' on the Interislander’). The song reached number eight in the charts.
Wellington is given the Baraka 'time-scape' treatment in this short film by Richard Sidey, made while studying at Massey University. There's no characters or conventional narrative, but the life cycle of a city is captured in a Koyaanisqatsi-like compilation of day and night-time scenes. Clouds scud by in hyper-time-lapse and slow-motion, and Wellington landmarks (harbour, bucket fountain, turbine etc) are seen anew, cut to a soundtrack by percussion group Strike. The tone poem won best student film at the American Conservation Film Festival 2007.
NZ's first major female pop star, "Queen of the Mods", Dinah Lee is profiled in this NZBC special (one of the earliest surviving interviews with a Kiwi rock'n'roller). Her trademark pageboy-with-kiss-curls hairstyle is almost a character in its own right as she talks about the pressures of celebrity — while footage of her recording 'He Can't do the Bluebeat' reveals a singing voice that is almost a shock after the softly spoken interview. The last word goes to Lee's manager who recounts the "nightmare" repercussions of her TV appearance in Bermuda shorts.