The Italian Job meets cheap jugs and a student union gig in this early heist tale from Geoff Murphy (Goodbye Pork Pie). The plot follows some university students — short on exam fees and beer money — and their scheme to crack a campus safe. Murphy enlisted $4000 and a bevy of mates (including Bruno Lawrence in one of his earliest screen roles), and made it over nine months of weekends. It sold to local television (as well as the ABC in Australia). Its deliberately low key, naturalistic acting stood in stark contrast to the stage-influenced television dramas of the time.
Pop Goes the Weasel was C4's twisted answer to iconic British pop quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks, embracing a shambolic DIY approach with oversized props, lots of ribbing and an oiled up man in tights (the Weasel) handling the judging. It's fair to say that not every joke has aged well. This trans-Tasman stoush pits a young Dai Henwood and Evan Short from Concord Dawn, against Scott Owen from The Living End and a DJ called 'the Doctor'. Overseeing it all is quizmistress supreme, Jaquie Brown. Director Toa Fraser pops by to embarrass Henwood with a prank call.
A salient public safety segment in this edition of the National Film Unit’s long-running magazine series looks at 'prudence at home', and the ways that stoves, jugs and fires can be dangerous to children. Other segments include a visit to a Gisborne health camp where youngsters are finishing their seven week course of dietary and exercise lessons. And a jaunt to Canterbury’s frozen Lake Ida for skating, pies, and ice hockey concludes that ‘winter can be fun’. A car-drawn toboggan looks it — though the ice rescue demonstration will not convince all viewers.
This edition of the National Film Unit newsreel series promotes a newly established New Zealand industry: the manufacturing of domestic ware. It shows the process of producing a cornucopia of Crown Lynn-like crockery — plates, cups, saucers, teapots, vases, etc. Machines make and glaze plates, while technicians cast irregular shaped vases, make prototypes for items such as Toby jugs, hand paint, and apply transfers. For, as the title suggests, the potter's wheel and handiwork still have their place, even in the age of mechanical reproduction.
Train enthusiast David Sims captured the dying days of steam trains in this 1968 National Film Unit short. It features arresting images of a Kb class locomotive billowing steam as it tackles the Southern Alps, en route from Canterbury to the West Coast. Kb Country was released in Kiwi cinemas in January 1968, just months before the steam locomotives working the Midland Line were replaced by diesel-electrics. Sims earned his directing stripes with the film. As he writes in this background piece, making it involved a mixture of snow, joy and at least two moments of complete terror.
Christopher Plummer went from playing punk music to cutting film, first at TVNZ editing documentaries, and then on a slate of award-winning films. They include the shorts Sure to Rise (Niki Caro), and Possum (Brad McGann); and feature films Channelling Baby, In My Father's Den, Black Sheep, No.2, Vincent Ward doco Rain of the Children, and Taika Waititi's breakout hit Boy.
After starting his career commentating local rugby in Palmerston North, Hamish McKay went on to become one of New Zealand's best-known sports broadcasters. The longtime TV3 sports anchor commentated over 70 rugby test matches, including TV3’s coverage of the 2007 and 2011 World Cups. He also presented on travel series Time of Your Life, and was a repeat victim on Pulp Sport. McKay left TV3 in April 2016.
Piha-based Marc Mateo spent more than two decades in the camera department, where he did turns at every job going from gaffer (chief electrician) to cinematographer. Mateo specialised in lighting. From 2002 he was director of photography on a number of music videos, shorts (including the fantastical Meniscus) and commercials, plus two features for cult director David Blyth: Wound and Ghost Bride. Mateo died on 12 June 2015.