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Spotlight

Don McGlashan - The Don

Curated by the NZ On Screen team . 14 Items

If anyone could claim to be a genre-crossing Godfather of Godzone screen and song it’s Don McGlashan: from Blam Blam Blam (‘There is No Depression in New Zealand’), to musical theatre group The Front Lawn (classic comedic short films Walkshort, the Lounge Bar, Linda’s Body) and beloved band The M...

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Walkshort

Short Film, 1987 (Full Length)

This classic short film provides an unusual showcase for the founding talents of musical theatre group The Front Lawn — Harry Sinclair and Don McGlashan. The duo play every character in this slice of life set amongst the pedestrians of Auckland's Karangahape Road. The narrative unravels like a baton relay. Walkshort was directed by editor Bill Toepfer. Sinclair would go on to do some directing of his own (Topless Women Talk about their Lives), while as lead singer of the Mutton Birds, McGlashan sang an ode to another famous Auckland street, Dominion Road. 

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The Lounge Bar

Short Film, 1988 (Full Length)

The zenith of Don McGlashan and Harry Sinclair's legendary Front Lawn collaborations, this iconic Kiwi short follows two men and one woman on a rainy night at a deserted bar. Pivoting on amnesia and woven together by music, two timeframes are seamlessly combined and a darkly humorous plot unfolds. The film had a wide international release (Ireland to Norway, Germany to the USA) and was a finalist in the inaugural American Film Festival.

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Linda's Body

Short Film, 1990 (Full Length)

Performance group The Front Lawn (Don McGlashan, Harry Sinclair) stretch all of their prolific talents in this kooky Truly, Madly, Deeply style short. An eerie body-shifting whistled tune precedes Ben (McGlashan) finding his partner Linda (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) dead in bed. Then things get stranger: Linda’s ghost catches up with an old lover Victor (Sinclair) and faces a life-changing dilemma, while her body — awol with a tennis player on Tamaki Drive — has other plans. The surreal romance was made for TVNZ; it won best short at the 1990 NZ Screen Awards.

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Collection

The Waitangi Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Jock Phillips begins his journey through our Waitangi collection by recalling an awkward encounter with a security guard at the treaty grounds. Wandering 50 years between the first film in this collection and the last, Phillips explores changing attitudes to the Treaty. Discover everything from Mike King on the treaty trail, to trench warfare, waka-building and epic drama.

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Making Music - Don McGlashan

Short Film, 2005 (Full Length)

Former Blam Blam Blam, Front Lawn and Mutton Birds member, Don McGlashan takes time out from making his first solo album to talk about songwriting in this episode from a series made for high school music students. McGlashan is passionate in exhorting his audience to write their own songs and make their own voices heard. Acoustic versions of his classic 'Dominion Road' (written about a neighbouring street) and another Mutton Birds number 'White Valiant' (based on a dream) underline his enthusiasm for writing about immediate surroundings, not faraway places.  

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Bill Sevesi's Dream

Television, 2011 (Full Length)

This Artsville TV documentary plucks its way through a Kiwi-focused history of the ukulele, from Waikiki to Wellington, using the dream of “godfather of Polynesian music” Bill Sevesi as its starting point: namely “that the children would be playing the ukulele all over the country.” Presenter Gemma Gracewood (of the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra) reveals the instrument’s Pacific adoption and burgeoning popularity, and meets acolytes of ‘the uke’: from Herman Pi’ikea Clark to Jennifer Ward-Lealand, to Sevesi strumming with onetime pupil Sione Aleki.

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Interview

Don McGlashan: On composing for film and television...

Interview - James Coleman. Camera and Editing - Leo Guerchmann

Don McGlashan is one of New Zealand's foremost singer/songwriters. He was a member of Blam Blam Blam, and The Mutton Birds, and has recorded as a solo artist. He was also a part of the acclaimed musical theatre act The Front Lawn. Through his work with The Front Lawn, McGlashan moved into the film world with the quirky short Walkshort. He has worked as a film composer on An Angel at My Table, No 2, and Dean Spanley.

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The Heater

The Mutton Birds, Music Video, 1994

This slow burning tale of a domestic appliance with a mind of its own was The Mutton Birds’ only number one hit. The sinister, surreal and partly animated video — the band’s fourth with director Fane Flaws — hints at the short films of Don McGlashan’s other project The Front Lawn. A furtive, nerdy McGlashan takes the lead with Elizabeth McRae (in her prime as Marj on Shortland Street) as his mother; the other Mutton Birds have cameos as a seedy second hand dealer (David Long) and a Salvation Army brass section (Ross Burge and Alan Gregg).

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Don't Fight it Marsha, It's Bigger Than Both of Us

Blam Blam Blam, Music Video, 1981

Blam Blam Blam’s second hit from 1981 was angular and artsy, hook-filled but unsettling: all qualities captured in a theatrical video, directed by Andrew Shaw. Clowns, magicians, fire-eaters and trick cyclists join the band, while actors play out the saga of ‘Don’t Fight It, Marsha’. The actors — including Phillip Gordon (Came a Hot Friday), Michael Hurst and Donogh Rees (Constance) — were directed by Harry Sinclair, who would later join Blam band member Don McGlashan in The Front Lawn. The Len Lye-style scratch effects were by Jenny Pullar, the Blams’ lighting designer.