This 1991 telefilm follows young undercover cop Tony (William Brandt) who gets in too deep when infiltrating a heroin ring in the underbelly of Wellington’s music and pub scene. The Kiwi noir tale was inspired by real-life undercover policeman Wayne Haussman, who was convicted of drug trafficking. Directed by Yvonne Mackay (The Silent One), it was made as a pilot for a series that never eventuated. At the 1993 NZ Film and Television Awards Undercover won Best TV Drama; Jennifer Ludlam was awarded for her role as Tony's ex-prostitute girlfriend. Cliff Curtis plays a musician.
This Inside New Zealand doco takes a calm, no nonsense look at one man’s encounter with heroin addiction — a habit he estimates cost him a seven figure sum. Far from being the clichéd junkie loser, Tim was a husband, father and successful businessman who remarkably didn’t think twice about dabbling with a drug that had already taken the life of one of his sisters. Nine years after it led him to detox and rehab, Tim and his mother and sister talk about his addiction and its impact on their lives — without glamorising or demonising the drug or its users.
Director Grahame McLean uses the notorious (then recent) 'Mr Asia' drug smuggling saga as fodder for this Wellington underbelly tale. Hello Sailor’s Harry Lyon headlines as a musician and ex-con who partners with a beautiful journo to investigate a global drug syndicate, in between nightclub sessions with fellow musos Beaver and Hammond Gamble. High on 80s guitar licks, Should I be Good? was made in the tax break era without Film Commission investment. McLean followed it right away with The Lie of the Land, becoming a rare Kiwi to make two movies back to back.
Dragon have produced some of Australasian pop music's classic anthems ('April Sun in Cuba', 'Are You Old Enough'). This 2015 documentary charts 40 rock'n'roll years: chart success, drugs, fame, failure, family, survival. The first excerpt looks at the band facing early success and tragedy; the second covers the impact of the 1998 death of singer Marc Hunter, especially on his brother Todd. The doco screened in the Prime Rocks slot. "Made with care and quite a lot of love", praised NZ Herald’s Greg Dixon, "by turns, sad and uplifting, which is no mean feat."
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.
In 1989 dancer Douglas Wright returned home to choreograph and form his own company. This half-hour TV documentary, marking the launch of his work Gloria, looks back on a blossoming career that began at 21 — when he took up ballet to overcome a heroin addiction. After becoming a star with Limbs, Wright joined prestigious troupes in London and New York. Now, as opening night looms, he is acutely aware of the danger of pushing his dancers too hard as he fights to get the best out of them on an ambitious, demanding piece. Douglas passed away in November 2018.
Katherine Kennard left drama school and immediately landed a role on Xena: Warrior Princess. Her big break came playing lawyer Joni Collins over four seasons of Street Legal. Since then Kennard has appeared in a range of TV dramas including Orange Roughies, This is Not My Life, Underbelly and Spartacus. She was also part of the cast of the comedy-drama Nothing Trivial.
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.
After beginning her career as a television journalist, Amanda Robertshawe has gone on to direct acclaimed documentaries on challenging issues like addiction (The Dark Side of the Moon), confronting death from cancer (My Name is Jane) and sexual responsibility (Is There Anybody Out There?). Her films reflect a fascination with the emotional consequences of life experiences.
Globe-trotting Brit Katherine Kennard began modelling in Asia as a teen. After moving to NZ she studied acting at Unitec; by 2005 she had done four seasons on Street Legal, co-starring as Jay Laga'aia's legal (and ex-romantic) partner Joni Collins. The role would win her a 2003 Television award. After time out from acting, Kennard returned to play a heroin addict in Underbelly, and ex-wife to Shane Cortese's character on Nothing Trivial.