Before you could call her Queen Bee and ‘Royals’ became a Grammy-winning smash hit, Ella Yelich-O’Connor was a singer in Extreme and competing in the covers category of the 2009 Intermediate Schools Battle of the Bands finals. The 12-year-old Belmont Intermediate student and her band belt out covers of ‘Man on the Silver Mountain’, by British rockers Rainbow, and ‘Edie (Ciao Baby)’, The Cult’s tribute to Andy Warhol heroine Edie Sedgwick. “The gods lay at your fee-e-eet …” Ella. Post-performance Ella bemoans a “sore voice”, but Extreme take third place.
Frank Whitten won probably his biggest audience when 10 million Brits saw him play an outrageous bastard in this primetime melodrama. This first episode sees Ceci (Glaswegian actor Valerie Gogan) arriving from England hoping for a better life, and instead finding herself trapped on a rundown farm with a rapist, a bitter old man and a simpleton. NZ producers Lloyd Phillips and Rob Whitehouse won finance from TVNZ, Westpac and the UK's Central Television for the six-part mini-series, written by Brit Elizabeth Gowans. There were 118 speaking parts, most of them Kiwi.
Heart of the High Country saw NZ and the mother country getting into bed together, on and off the screen. The rags/riches/rags tale chronicles 18 years for Ceci (Valerie Gogan), a working class Brit who arrives in the South Island and fends off a series of mean-tempered pioneer males — and one long unrequited love. The Sam Pillsbury-directed mini-series played in primetime on ITV in the UK, and was funded by England’s Central TV and TVNZ. It shares storytelling DNA with earlier TV movie It’s Lizzie to Those Close; Brit Elizabeth Gowans scripted both.
In the 1930s aviatrix Jean Batten broke solo distance flying records and achieved international fame. Directed by her biographer, Ian Mackersey, Garbo of the Skies chronicles Batten's life through archive footage, interviews, narration from her unpublished memoirs and reconstructions of her epic flights. The film also reveals a lonely private world: a domineering mother, romantic tragedy, an itinerant fall into obscurity, and death in a Majorcan hotel (a mystery solved by research for the film). It screened on TVNZ, and sold to Discovery Channel and the BBC.
With more than three million song plays on their MySpace page, pop-punk rockers Goodnight Nurse led the way in Kiwi cyberspace popularity; the Auckland quartet also produced a string of Top 40 singles. The band's first album Always and Never was released in 2006 and Keep Me On Your Side followed it in 2008, which peaked at number five in the charts. Frontman Joel Little went on to produce Lorde’s smash hit album Pure Heroine, winner of a pile of Tui, Grammy and Brit awards; while guitarist Sam McCarthy went on to co-found synth pop duo Kids of 88.
The first, online-only single from Goodnight Nurse’s second album Keep Me By Your Side was its biggest selling track. As the band plays on stage, the camera focuses on the wild and wasted audience (including future Shortland Street stars Bonnie Soper and Chris Tempest) as they drink, dance, throw up and make out. Joel Little, frontman of this partytastic Auckland punk-pop outfit, produced Lorde’s album Pure Heroine, winner of a pile of Tui, Grammy and Brit awards, while guitarist Sam McCarthy went on to co-found Kids of 88.
Kaitangata Twitch follows 12-year-old Meredith, who sees eerie visions as a Governors Bay island is drilled for mining. The Māori Television series was adapted from a Margaret Mahy story by long-time collaborator Yvonne Mackay. Mahy makes a rainbow-wigged cameo in this episode where the locals protest a subdivision, and Meredith apprehends the island's 'twitch'. Newcomer Te Waimarie Kessell stars, with Charles Mesure and George Henare. The mix of the Māori concept of wairua with a willful 21st Century teenage heroine won a Remi Award at Worldfest-Houston 2010.
Created by Trophy Wife Productions, this delightful puppetry/comic book creation follows our rather plain heroine as she endures jibes from the cool crowd about her hair style. She resolves to rectify her situation using a new "Hairagami Set". The cartoon format works superbly well both as a terrific editing technique, and as pace control: drawing our attention to each cell as the action progresses. Check out the true-to-life Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield puppets.
In this award-winner from the 2007 NZ Music Awards, an intuitive wolf (actually a siberian husky) guides a teen on a dreamlike close encounter with suburbia, where men and women wrestle with poultry, their bowels, and each other. Director Sam Peacocke (Manurewa, Shihad - Beautiful Machine) keeps things cool in the fluorescent half-light. His attention to detail — the heroine's left pupil is bigger than her right — and quirky Blue Riding Hood-in-the-burbs concept enhance the song.
A talkback radio operator (Lucy Sheehan) is forced to stand in for the regular host when he walks out because of a personal crisis. In between trying to answer calls, organize a replacement and discuss odd topics with a succession of callers, the flustered operator makes a surprising connection with another lost soul. Auckland's urban soul is captured with distinctive assurance in this neglected 48-minute drama from director Alison Maclean — who wrote the script with Geoff Chapple.