Record label Flying Nun is synonymous with Kiwi indie music, and with autonomous DIY, bottom-of-the-world creativity. This collection celebrates the label's ethos as manifested in the music videos. Selected by label founder Roger Shepherd: "A general style may have loosely evolved ... but it was simply due to limited budgets and correspondingly unlimited imaginations."
This documentary tells the story of the legendary Flying Nun music label up to its 21st birthday. The label became associated with the 'Dunedin Sound': a catch-all term for a sprawl of DIY, post-punk, warped, jangly guitar-pop. The Guardian: "[it's] as if being on the other side of the world meant the music was played upside down". Features interviews with founder Roger Shepherd and many key players, the spats and the glory. The label's influence on the US indie scene is noted, and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus covers The Verlaines' 'Death and the Maiden'.
This collection celebrates more of the legendary TV moments that Kiwis gawked at, chortled with, and choked on our tea over. In the collection primer Paul (Eating Media Lunch) Casserly chews on rapper Redhead Kingpin’s equine advice to 3:45 LIVE! and mo’ memorable moments: from a NSFW Angela D'Audney to screen folk heroes Colin McKenzie and the Ingham twins.
Co-written by lead singer Fiona McDonald, 'Juice' celebrates the days when she watched morning music shows as a child. Alongside scenes of children playing outside, things take a more sinister turn indoors, with one particularly nightmarish sequence showing her younger self restrained in a dentist’s chair. 'Juice' was released paired with Chickens song 'Choppers', and won Single of the Year at the 1994 NZ Music Awards. It was originally recorded by McDonald’s other band, Strawpeople, under the title 'Dreamchild'. It featured on 1994 Strawpeople album Broadcast.
With its skittering drum loops and unsteady vocals punctuated with bursts of industrial-strength noise, Donka is an early example of Headless Chickens’ ever-evolving sound. Director Stuart Page (working with the Chickens' Grant Fell) cuts together a wild collage to echo the song’s mood swings. Chris Matthews' deadpan delivery to camera — occasionally in butoh-type face paint — provides a spot of calm amongst the blizzard of grotesque close-ups, absurd costumes, time-lapse and triple exposures. Fell wrote later that the video cost $527.55 to make.
Named after the German word for a type of gas chamber used in Nazi concentration camps, 'Gaskrankinstation' was the first single off Headless Chickens' second album Body Blow. Actor Peter Tait (Bogans, Kitchen Sink) stars as gas station attendant Ivan, whose desperate monologue drives the track, while the band play some comically tortured-looking instruments in the parking lot. Anita McNaught also makes a cameo appearance as the "lady newsreader" of Ivan's affections.
Headless Chickens forerunners and Flying Nun legends Children's Hour were best known for their student radio hit 'Caroline's Dream'. Chris Matthews, Grant Fell, Bevan Sweeney and the late Johnny Pierce formed the band in 1982, and managed four national tours and a handful of recordings before winding up in 1984. In April 2005, Children's Hour performed a then one-off reunion gig in Christchurch. The success of that performance led to shows, supporting live compilation album of Looking for the Sun.
Director Peter Jackson's second feature Meet the Feebles offers even more bad taste than his debut. The irreverent, outlandish, part-musical satire is populated almost entirely by puppets, but it is by no means cute. The motley creatures are all members of a variety show that’s working up to a major performance. They include Bletch the two-timing pornographer walrus, an obese hippo femme fatale, a drug-dealing rat, and a heroin-addicted frog — in other words, something to offend everyone. Richard King writes about the creation of New Zealand's first puppet movie here.
Screened on a TVNZ arts show, this documentary looks at how the strings were pulled on Peter Jackson's low-budget puppet movie Meet the Feebles. An old Wellington railway shed fizzes with energy and imagination as a team peppered with future Oscar-winners crafts the gleefully subversive Muppets parody. Jackson muses on his influences, processes and propensity for "savage humour" in a fascinating interview. Included is footage of his childhood films — war movies and stop motion animation made with his first 8mm camera. Richard King writes about Meet the Feebles here.
Campaign, the second film directed by Tony Sutorius, won sellout screenings at the 1999 NZ Film Festival. The documentary chronicled an early MMP election campaign. Sutorius went on to make another feature-length documentary, this time about trade unionist Helen Kelly. Sutorius runs Porirua company Unreal Films, whose diet of educational films encompasses numerous elections across Australasia.