The Mainland Touch was a popular regional news magazine programme broadcast from Christchurch between 1980 until 1990. In excerpts here, Christchurch Botanic Gardens welcomes the arrival of spring with a daffodil festival while local gardening groups prepare a floral carpet. The Wizard of Christchurch battles Telecom over the colour of phone boxes and joins opponents of a proposed restaurant tower in Victoria Square. Punting on the Avon is extended, and a cockatoo hitches a ride in the garden city.
Alternative rockers Elemeno P seemingly came out of nowhere in 2003, when their debut album Love and Disrespect sold 45,000 copies led by singles originally recorded in the founding members’ living room. The same year they played support for US acts Sum 41 and Good Charlotte. Three years later, and with a second album, 2005's Trouble In Paradise, under their belts, the band was named Best Group at the NZ Music Awards. Infectious single 'Baby Come On' from their third album featured on a high profile TV ad (a rock-your-cubicle concept for Telecom) and its anthemic chorus had Kiwis dancing in their living rooms.
Tony Williams is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished directors; his career has spanned five decades. Williams began working with noted film producer John O’Shea at Pacific Films in the 1960s and shot two features, and directed nine documentary films. In the 1970s he directed his first feature film Solo, and a series of documentaries including Getting Together, The Day We Landed on the Most Perfect Planet in the Universe, Take Three Passions, Rally, and Lost in the Garden of the World. Though not a household name himself, Williams has directed some of the most iconic TV commercials in New Zealand. These include: Great Crunchie Train Robbery, Dear John, SPOT and the infamous Bugger commercials.
MyStory was the first “mobisode” funded by NZ On Air. It tracks a group of young people in their ‘gap year’ between high school and university as they discover one of their friends has gone missing. The 40 x two-minute episodes screened on C4, and was able to be downloaded daily to 3G phones on the Vodafone network, or watched (as a weekly collection) on the C4 website on Sundays. Created by Gibson Group producer Bevin Linkhorn, the series was directed by Peter Salmon.
A Moment in Time is an armchair interview with historian Michael King OBE filmed in 1991. King discusses his early influences, motivation, and distinctive publications. King died in a car accident with his wife Maria Jungowska in 2004, and his reflections in A Moment in Time are testament to the tragedy of that loss: "We've got to be able to trace our own footsteps and listen to our own voices or we'll cease to be New Zealanders, or being New Zealanders will cease to have any meaning."
Someone Else’s Country looks critically at the radical economic changes implemented by the 1984 Labour Government - where privatisation of state assets was part of a wider agenda that sought to remake New Zealand as a model free market state. The trickle-down ‘Rogernomics’ rhetoric warned of no gain without pain, and here the theory is counterpointed by the social effects (redundant workers, Post Office closures). Made by Alister Barry in 1996 when the effects were raw, the film draws extensively on archive footage and interviews with key “witnesses to history”.
After starting his filmmaking career at the National Film Unit, cinematographer John Blick has shot many iconic Kiwi commercials, done extended time in Asia and the United States — and worked alongside everyone from Brian Brake and Peter Jackson (The Frighteners), to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.
Tony Williams' contribution to the development of NZ film and television has been huge: his camerawork for John O'Shea's 60s feature-films, the nine ground-breaking documentaries he directed for Pacific Films, and his feature Solo, which helped launch the 70s new wave. After moving to Australia in 1980, Williams continued to wield a lively influence on our culture by directing many legendary commercials.
The idea that New Zealanders often take for granted the depth of talent in the local screen industry is well illustrated by the career of Flux Animation founder Brent Chambers. Most Kiwis would have seen at least one example of his prolific output, yet few would be able to put a face or a name to his work. Chambers was tireless in building a competitive and viable international business, with a distinct local identity.
A background in Christchurch improv theatre prepared Matt Gibb for roles presenting long-running TVNZ kids shows Squirt and Studio 2 Live. He has gone on to host slots for youth channel TVNZ U (which he also produced), Good Morning, the live Lotto draw, and Heartland’s There and Back. A familiar face in a series of ads for Spark (formerly Telecom), in 2015 Gibb began fronting travel and homes segments for Kiwi Living.