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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
As the Operations Manager for Womad (World Of Music, Arts and Dance) in New Plymouth, Chris Herlihy performs the essential but often mundane jobs that make this large-scale outdoor event an annual success story. This half-hour documentary follows Herlihy and his crew as he oversees the pop-up city that is Womad 2011 — from looking after VIPs and fixing ticket problems, to mopping up the loos. New Plymouth has fully embraced Womad. Herlihy's love for the festival and his colleagues shines through as he power walks around the beautiful Brooklands Park site.
Russian composer Igor Stravinsky visited Aotearoa in 1961 for a series of performances with New Zealand's National Orchestra. This co-production between the NFU and the NZ Broadcasting Service shows Stravinsky at the Wellington Town Hall, guiding the orchestra through the finale of his work, The Firebird Suite. Stravinsky has his own particular style of conducting: no baton, and emphatic hand and arm movements. The applause is rapturous. Stravinsky appears delighted with the occasion; the orchestra (later renamed the NZ Symphony Orchestra) shower him with flowers.
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.
Bressa Creeting Cake's jaunty calypso romp, described by the band as "a very happy holiday song full of gaiety, summer, and love for one's fellows", gets a suitably madcap treatment in this video directed by Michael Keating and band member Edmund McWilliams (aka Ed Cake). Actor and comedian Jonathan Brugh (What We Do in the Shadows) gets to mug for the camera while the band lurks in the background in their "sinister suits". Auckland's Little Shoal Bay, near the Harbour Bridge, is the opening location, and elsewhere, a guitar is used as a percussion instrument.
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.