This documentary backgrounds the process of turning Murray Ball's comic strip into New Zealand's first animated feature. Who will voice the iconic Dog? Pat Cox, the original producer, stays off-screen; but there are interviews with perfectionist Footrot creator Murray Ball, fellow Manawatu scribe Tom Scott and John Clarke, who argues he narrowly beat Meryl Streep to provide the voice of Wal. Amongst the making of footage, the late Mike Hopkins (who won Oscar glory on Lord of the Rings) lends his feet to the sound effects. Tony Hiles writes about the making of the film here.
Cannes is the place where art meets schlock on the French Riviera. A year before Jane Campion's The Piano shared the festival's top prize, NZ-made documentary Cannes '92 managed to snare almost everyone standing, from Voight to Van Damme — including NZ entrants Alison Maclean (with her movie Crush) and Nicky Marshall (Mon Desir). Vincent Ward mentions the 14 companies involved in his Map of the Human Heart. Baz Luhrmann promotes Strictly Ballroom; Paul Verhoeven completely forgets the question after his Basic Instinct star Sharon Stone interrupts proceedings with a kiss.
Opera in the Outback offers a wry, fly on the wall view of the lead-up to a most unusual event: the first concert by Kiri Te Kanawa in the Australian outback. Kiwi director Stephen Latty and writer Michael Heath realise the people are the story, from affable locals to those preparing for 9000 joyful, sometimes drunken arrivals. The inhabitants of Beltana — population roughly 12 — risk building a new racetrack for visitors less operatically inclined, while Australian National Railways send all the rolling stock they can. Some of the Kiwi film crew were awake for 52 hours, trying to capture it all.
Valley of the Stereos is a comic face-off that starts tinny, but gleefully escalates to bass heavy, as a not-so-zen hippy (Danny Mulheron) gets caught up in a vale-blasting battle with the noisy bogan next door (Murray Keane). Made by many key Peter Jackson collaborators, the near-wordless pump up the volume tale was directed by George Port, shortly before he became founding member of Jackson's famed effects-house Weta Digital. Ironically Weta's computer-generated miracles would help render the stop motion imagery seen in the finale largely a thing of the past.
Sound designer Mike Hopkins worked on more than 20 feature films. Along the way he won wide respect for his craft and the humble dedication he applied to it. He won awards for his work on Kiwi classics Illustrious Energy, Crush and Heavenly Creatures, and Oscars for his sound editing on King Kong and the second Lord of the Rings movie. Hopkins died in a rafting accident on 30 December 2012.
“The funniest, liveliest, most exuberant film ever made in New Zealand”. So said critic Nicholas Reid, a year after Came a Hot Friday became 1985's biggest local hit. Though Billy T’s loony Mexican-Māori cowboy is beloved by fans, he is but one eccentric here among many — as two scheming conmen hit town, and encounter bookies, boozers, country hicks, nasty crim Marshall Napier, and Prince Tui Teka playing saxophone. Until the arrival of The Piano in 1993, Ian Mune and Dean Parker’s award-loaded adaptation remained NZ's third biggest local hit. Ian Pryor writes about the film here.
Tim White began his career producing fellow student Vincent Ward’s A State of Siege, and later joined him on the epic Map of the Human Heart. With a penchant for working with emerging talent, he has produced a run of films on both sides of the Tasman. His long slate — from Heath Ledger breakthrough Two Hands, to the acclaimed Out of the Blue — has established White as a leading Australasian producer.
The distinctive deep voice of veteran broadcaster Dick Weir, QSM, is known to generations of Kiwi kids as a longtime Radio New Zealand National presenter (The Dick Weir Sunday Show, Ears). On screen he has narrated everything from election campaigns to Erebus docudramas to Wild South. Weir was also the inaugural presenter of 80s after-school news programme The Video Dispatch.