For this short documentary made as part of the Loading Docs series, director Ygnacio Cervio explores mental health awareness from the perspective of someone "who encourages people to make a change, but finds his own struggles on that journey". After losing some close friends to suicide, barber Sam Dowdall decided to take an epic road trip across New Zealand, trading his skills for goods and services and starting conversations with Kiwi men about mental health. With only his dog for company, Dowdall opens up about his own bad days when he has to "eat his own medicine".
This episode of the te reo Māori anthology series follows a scandalous relationship between Siva (Pua Magasiva), a 19-year-old Samoan man, and Haka (radio DJ Ngawai Greenwood) a 45-year-old Māori poet. Unable to contain their passion, the couple's public lovemaking hits the headlines. Siva's family take matters into their own hands. This episode marked the first on-screen starring role for Magasiva, who would make his name as nurse Vinnie Kruse in Shortland Street. Director Paora Maxwell later spent three years as Chief Executive at Māori Television.
Pete is 27, but according to his exasperated father, he still acts 'like a 17-year-old'. Brown Boys covers similar comic territory to breakthrough 2006 PI big screen comedy Sione's Wedding. It's a born and bred Auckland story exploring themes like male friendship, PI-Kiwi cultural expectations and tough life decisions. Actor Hans Masoe (Aroha) stars as Pete, the smooth, romantic 'player'; the film also marks his first outing as writer and director. Pete's dad is played by Eteuati Ete, one half of legendary PI-Kiwi comic duo Laughing Samoans.
Viewable in full, comedy/drama Hopeless is a portrait of Wellington 20-somethings attempting to get along with crushes, exes, and never weres. Well-meaning Ben (Phil Pinner) finds himself becoming relationship therapist to two friends, despite possessing a dangerously unstoppable mouth. Hamstrung by an advertising campaign highlighting Pinner sitting on a toilet, Hopeless won warm reviews. It also offered impressive movie debuts for Mia Blake (No. 2), Scott Wills (Stickmen) and a hilariously unhinged Adam Gardiner (Agent Anna). Spin-off TV series Lovebites followed.
Go Girls starts from a twist, a beach and a promise. The twist is that this femme-dominated tale is narrated by a male (Jay Ryan). The promise involves four friends having a drink on the beach, and agreeing to make a major life-change within a year. Amy (Anna Hutchison) wants to be rich; whacky bartender Britta (Alix Bushnell) seeks fame; straight-talking Cody (Bronwyn Turei) wants a hubbie. The intentionally "optimistic, kind" hit show stretched to five seasons. In the backgrounder, co-creator Rachel Lang writes about the show's origins and difficult, rain-sodden birth.
"How would your relationship with your best friend change if they were to change gender?" This is the intriguing proposition that led director Louise Leitch to make this 2016 Loading Doc. Best friends Neil (Leitch's husband) and Byron have been longtime climbing companions, but Byron’s shift from a male to female gender identity at 50 years old provides a challenge to their mateship that differs from any mountaineering obstacle. The mini documentary screened on SBS in Australia. The Spinoff’s Alex Casey called it a "moving, honest examination of an evolving friendship".
Kingpin was the second of a trilogy of films from Mike Walker about troubled New Zealand youth (the others were Kingi's Story and TV movie Mark II) Filmed at, and inspired by residents of Kohitere Boys Training Centre in Levin, the bros-in-borstal tale follows a group of teens who are wards of the state. Kingpin focuses on the bond between Riki (Mitchell Manuel) and Willie (Fafua 'Junior' Amiga), who along with the other kids are terrorised by Karl (Nicholas Rogers), the Kingpin of the title. It was directed by Walker, who co-wrote the script with Manuel.
A New Zealander of Lebanese descent, Steve La Hood joined TVNZ in the early 70s. He went on to direct on everything from Close to Home and Shortland Street, to an acclaimed documentary on Bruno Lawrence. He also produced The Marching Girls (1987), one of the first dramas to highlight contemporary women characters on NZ television. La Hood now creates museum exhibitions at company Story Inc.
Peter Wells broke ground as one of the first New Zealanders to tell gay stories on-screen. Aside from his work as an author, he explored gay and historical themes in several acclaimed drama and documentaries — including pioneering TV drama A Death in the Family, colourful big screen melodrama Desperate Remedies and Georgina Beyer documentary Georgie Girl. Wells died on 18 February 2019.