In Scarfies, five Dunedin students find themselves in a free squat, and a dark place, after taking a criminal captive in their basement. The debut feature from Robert Sarkies starts as a comic tribute to Otago student days, then turns into a psychological thriller. Outside of the two Warriors movies, Scarfies was the most successful Kiwi release of the 90s on home turf. It went on to scoop best film, director and screenplay awards at the 2000 NZ Film and TV Awards. This excerpt sees the scarfies torn between dealing with the crim and a footy match at Carisbrook.
Keen to discover "the real essence" of his country, filmmaker Ryan Fielding spent two months travelling around New Zealand with camera in hand. The short film that Fielding came up with is a mosaic of Aotearoa and its people, dotted with moments of beauty and celebration, but precious few signs of wealth: rundown shops, quiet pubs, children larking around in the ocean, and a number of locals who appear slightly worse for wear.
Directed by Peter Burger (Until Proven Innocent), this top-rating tele-feature dramatised the life story of legendary comedian Billy T James. Billy screened on 21 August 2011 as a Sunday Theatre drama on TV One, 20 years after Billy T’s death, aged just 42. Actor Tainui Tukiwaho (Step Dave) plays Billy T. Touted as revealing "the man behind the chuckle", the drama traverses Billy T’s life from childhood. This excerpt follows Billy as he reaches the peak of his career, fronting TV skits and pub stand-up. It was adapted by Briar Grace Smith and Dave Armstrong from the Matt Elliott biography.
When his father dies, soldier Will Bastion (Temuera Morrison) returns home after 20 years. Tradition dictates he take on the mantle of tribal chief, but he's not interested. His brother Kahu (Lawrence Makoare) seizes the opportunity, but he's a drug-dealer with grand plans to get stolen land back. Worried about Kahu's provocative approach, Will must choose whether to face off against his brother. Melding horseback action and indigenous land rights, Crooked Earth marked the first NZ film for director Sam Pillsbury since 1987's Starlight Hotel. Variety called it "handsomely mounted and compelling".
This long-running series tails working dogs and their handlers, who are helping protect New Zealand’s streets, borders, prisons and national parks. This opening episode of the second season sees dog squad member Dan "come a cropper", while chasing thieves; one prison visitor leaves with an unusual gift from inside (while other visitors are worried about their drugs from the night before); and Auckland Airport sniffer dogs snuff out some unwanted imports. Dog Squad's first two seasons were produced by Cream Media, shortly before the company was taken over by Greenstone TV.
Shark in the Park was New Zealand’s first urban cop show. In this second season opener, Inspector Flynn (Jeffrey Thomas) and his team face restructuring and cutbacks from HQ, and a gang prospect (Toby Mills) is interrogated about a hit and run. Among the impressive cast of cops are Rima Te Wiata, Nathaniel Lees, and Russell Smith (It is I, Count Homogenized). This was the first episode made by Wellington company The Gibson Group, as Kiwi television entered an era of deregulation (Shark's previous series was one of the last made by TVNZ’s in-house drama department).
K' Rd Stories was a 2015 series of shorts celebrating one of Auckland’s most colourful strips. In this entry, Dan and Dwayne are “two lovable hustlers with an entrepreneurial spirit trying to scratch a living on the fringes of K Road”. $cratch documents the pair’s efforts to gain entry to the Las Vegas strip club, set up a pop-up tinny shop, and find a girlfriend (“a lot of girlfriends I had in the past gave me nothing but children!”). Dwayne is played by Dwayne Sisson, who co-starred with $cratch director Clint Rarm in Zoe McIntosh’s 2013 rogue-life tale The Deadly Ponies Gang.
Jeremy Wells made his broadcasting debut on student radio station 95bFM, reading the news on Mikey Havoc’s breakfast show. The pair teamed up again for Havoc, a talk and music show on the fledgling MTV, before hosting travelogue/social commentary shows Havoc and Newsboy's Sell-Out Tour, and Havoc's Luxury Suites and Conference Facility on TVNZ. Wells then worked with producer/director Paul Casserly to produce seven seasons of the media satire show Eating Media Lunch, which won Best Comedy Programme at the Qantas Film and Television Awards in 2008. He also presented the satirical series The Unauthorised History Of New Zealand in 2005, and an episode of Intrepid Journeys in 2007.
Te Radar (aka Andrew Lumsden) began his screen career competing on stand-up show A Bit More After 10.
Peter Rowley was in his early 20s when David McPhail asked him to audition for new comedy show A Week of It. Rowley talks in this Funny As interview about his long career, performing with Billy T James, and other subjects, including: Working as a stage manager at Christchurch's Court Theatre, before getting his break on A Week of It in 1977 — "It was just sensational, and it was groundbreaking" First meeting Billy T James in a corridor, and clicking with him straight away Giving up stand-up comedy in Australia to write and act in The Billy T James Show, and moving into Billy's house to write the series Hanging out of a helicopter for The Billy T James Show, and having "the most fun a guy could ever have" on accidents will happen comedy Letter to Blanchy Being a "bit difficult" while co-starring on comedy Pete and Pio in the 1990s Wearing an $8,000 wig for 2018 movie Mortal Engines (in which he played a slave trader) Note: For more on Billy T, check out this Funny As interview with Rowley and Billy T's former minder Rick Harris.