If the Wool Board rocked, Steriogram’s ‘Walkie Talkie Man’ video would be the result. It uses wool to create people, instruments and tall buildings. A King Kong-like character scales Hollywood’s Capitol tower to kidnap singer Tyson Kennedy: inevitably, this warm fuzzy has to unravel. The ingenious stop-motion animation was made in New York by Frenchman Michel Gondry (director of feature Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and notable promos for Radiohead and Beck). The video – and the song’s use in an iPod advert – brought Steriogram worldwide exposure.
This 2015 edition in the Loading Docs series explores the past, present and future of Crystal Palace, a dilapidated but stately theatre on Auckland’s Mt Eden Road that has been drawing the curtains since the 1920s. Co-directed by Karl Sheridan and Robin Gee, who work under the Monster Valley moniker, the documentary canvasses the spilled Jaffas, dances, surf film screenings and local legends of the venue — and is also a plea to bring the ballroom and cinema back to life. In March 2016 Monster Valley answered their own call, and took over management of the theatre.
The American dream of so many New Zealand bands became a reality for Steriogram. In 1999 Whangarei’s Jake Adams and Brad Carter teamed up with Tyson Kennedy and Tim Youngson of Auckland. Kennedy, the drummer, impressed with his rapping, and they became known for manic energy, melodies and putting the fun into funk. Early use of the net built a wide fan base, and after a US talent scout saw a video for ‘White Trash’ online they signed to Capitol Records. Their 2004 debut Schmack! also contained ‘Walkie Talkie Man’; 2010 saw their third album, Taping the Radio.
This promo, directed by Simon Ward, showcases a single from Wellington’s Disasteradio. The bespectacled "D-rad" broadcasts a soup of synth-pop from the safety of his bedroom bunker via walkie talkie to his bandit girl, stranded outside in a post apocalyptic landscape. She fends off zombie marauders after her dog; he eats - and gets infected by - a pizza ... and talks to his hand. And his hand talks back.
This classic kids’ adventure tale follows a 13-year-old boy on a quest to find his father, missing amidst the 1860s Otago gold rush. When it launched in September 1976, the 13 part series was the most expensive local TV drama yet made. Under the reins of director Tom Parkinson, the series brandished unprecedented production values, and panned the Central Otago vistas for all their worth. Its huge local popularity was matched abroad (BBC screened it multiple times); it showed that NZ-made kids’ drama could be exported, and helped establish the new second television channel.
Apparently it's not that New Zealand has a bad image in the USA, more that it has no image. In an attempt to remedy this situation, cameras follow New Zealand's favourite mid-70s country rocker Kenny Rogers (pre-'The Gambler') and his band the First Edition on tour on a Road Services bus. All western shirts, shaggy hair, beards and satin jackets, they see the sights, meet the people (many of them older, rustic characters), play baseball, put down a hangi, break into song and admire the country's slower, more dignified pace. If only it had a McDonalds...
Remembered by his colleagues as “the leader in capturing New Zealand scenery on film from 1923 to 1954”, Bert Bridgman began his career as a cameraman in the days of silent film, and later directed the Centennial film One Hundred Crowded Years. He served as a war correspondent in the Pacific for the National Film Unit and was chief colour cameraman at the time of his death.
Legendary filmmaker Rudall Hayward, MBE, directed seven features over five decades — decades in which the concept of Kiwi movie-making was still an oxymoron, or meant a foreigner was in charge. Inspired by NZ’s cross-cultural history, Hayward remade his own Rewi’s Last Stand in 1940. Later he married Rewi star Ramai Te Miha, launching a filmmaking partnership that lasted until Rudall’s death in May 1974.
Geoffrey Scott, MBE and OBE, oversaw the Government's National Film Unit for over 20 years, until his retirement in 1973. Scott began his film career playing piano over silent movies. During his command of the unit, the organisation won 141 awards.
The son of a Canterbury mayor and lay preacher, Winter Hall turned his early love of acting into a long and steady Hollywood career. He used friendships forged in Australasian dramatic companies to gain entrée into the silent film world, and became a valuable, “poised and distinguished” supporting actor in over 100 films, including 1925 silent epic Ben-Hur. His career continued unabated through the introduction of the ‘talkies’. Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, B-158-009 (detail)