Scott Wills began his screen career in the early 90s, with appearances in soap Shortland Street and in short films including Ouch, Permanent Wave and The Hole. In 2000, Wills was nominated for two acting awards (one for Ouch and the other for his supporting part in romantic comedy Hopeless) and also starred in feature film Stickmen, a role which earned him the award for Best Actor at the 2001 New Zealand Film Awards. Wills followed Stickmen with a run of television performances, including Interrogation and Doves of War.
This documentary showcases some of the tricks of the trade used by Peter Jackson in the making of his first feature — the aliens-amok-in-Makara splatter classic, Bad Taste. Compiled following the film's 1988 Cannes market screening, it's framed around an extensive interview with a 25-year-old Jackson at his parents’ Pukerua Bay home. These excerpts offer fascinating insight into his ingenuity: from building a DIY Steadicam, to the making of the infamous sheep-obliterating rocket launcher scene, to PJ musing on the impetus that being an only child provided him.
This was New Zealand's first big historical drama after the controversy over the cost of The Governor almost a decade earlier. Over seven episodes — set between 1895 and 1914 — it followed the life of Dunedin barrister Alf Hanlon, focussing on six of his most important cases. British actor David Gwillim played Hanlon, while Australian Robyn Nevin was cast as convicted baby murderer Minnie Dean in the first and most celebrated episode. A major critical, ratings and awards success, it immediately recouped its budget when the Minnie Dean episode spurred a big international sale.
This stylishly high camp melodrama from directors Stewart Main and Peter Wells won acclaim, after debuting at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. In the imaginary 19th-century town of Hope, draper Dorothea Brooks (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) is desperate to save her sister from the clutches of opium, sex and the dastardly Fraser. She begs hunky migrant Lawrence Hayes to help; but complications ensue. Inspired partly by 1930s and 40s Hollywood melodramas, Desperate Remedies was sumptously shot by Leon Narbey (Whale Rider). Richard King writes about the film here.
Overhearing his crush say she only likes “real island guys” is all it takes to get Adam (Neil Amituanai, in his big screen debut) packing his bags for Samoa, in this comedy by Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa (TV's Fresh). Shot largely in Samoa over two weeks, the self-funded film co-stars Samoan locals Vito Vito and Fesuiai Viliamu as Adam’s cousins, teaching him the basics of island life. Three Wise Cousins reached number eight at the NZ box office in its opening weekend, and continued to win solid audiences, despite minimal publicity. Stuff critic James Croot called it "colourful and charming".
Big business and a small, struggling rural support town are on a collision course in this good-natured comedy made on a shoestring budget with extensive community goodwill. Policeman, author and film director Stefen Harris reunites the cast from his debut The Waimate Conspiracy, but moves the action up SH1 to Temuka. An adaptation of his novel The Hydrosnipe, it features Mark Hadlow as an amoral corporate trouble-shooter threatening the town’s only petrol station after its recently deceased owner may have stumbled on a priceless scientific breakthrough.
Art department veteran Dan Hennah worked on a range of screen projects before becoming an art director and set decorator on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Five times Oscar nominated, he won an Academy Award for his work on The Return of the King. Since then Hennah has graduated to production designing on a number of features, including taking on the job for Peter Jackson's three-parter of The Hobbit.
Peter Wells was an accomplished writer/director who explored gay and historical themes in his work. Among his screen credits are groundbreaking TV dramas Jewel’s Darl and A Death in the Family. Wells also created stylish feature film Desperate Remedies with co-director Stewart Main. In later years he collaborated with filmmaker Annie Goldson for documentary Georgie Girl.
Ainsley Gardiner (Te-Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Awa) fell in love with the magic of the big screen while growing up in Whakatane, where you could find her most Fridays at the local cinema catching the latest release. Her first formal foray into film and television came in 1995 when she joined producer Larry Parr at Kahukura Productions, eventually producing low budget feature Kombi Nation (2003) and co-producing the 26-part comedy/drama TV series Love Bites (2002). Following the demise of Kahukura, Gardiner teamed up with Taika Waititi to work on Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night. Soon after that she established Whenua Films with actor/producer Cliff Curtis. Together the trio struck creative gold with World War II short Tama Tū, Waititi's debut feature Eagle vs Shark and box office hit Boy.
Producer Lloyd Phillips won an Academy Award in 1981, for short film The Dollar Bottom. South African-born Phillips was raised in New Zealand, where his first feature, Battletruck, was shot. He went on to establish a globetrotting Hollywood career, working on The Legend of Zorro, 12 Monkeys, Inglourious Basterds and Vertical Limit (also shot in New Zealand). Phillips died of a heart attack on 25 January 2013.