Peter Jackson has gone from shy fanboy to master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood. With six journeys into Middle-earth now behind him, he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking. Led by early 'behind the scenes' docos this collection pays tribute to PJ's journey, from re-making King Kong in his backyard to err ... re-making King Kong in his backyard.
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.
Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce both got their starts in TV comedy after stints at broadcasting school, before joining forces in 2012 to create long-running hit show Jono and Ben. Here they talk about their careers, including: Hating M*A*S*H but loving SportsCafe — and how Jono and Ben was a loose version of Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge's TV partnership, only without the athleticism or business smarts Early forays into broadcasting, including a young Jono harassing Mai Fm DJ Robert Rakete until he was allowed on the radio, and Ben Boyce’s haphazard attempt at rugby commentary as a 19-year-old Ben discusses early creative endeavours including making movies on a farm as a kid, writing the "show us your crack" advert, and creating an early version of Pulp Sport at broadcasting school The perks of working with your best mate everyday on Jono and Ben, and getting to see younger talents from the show succeed — e.g. Guy Williams, Rose Matafeo, Laura Daniel and Jordan Watson (How to Dad) The challenges of transitioning from their 10pm time slot after 7 Days, to an hour of prime time at 7:30pm — and how Jono and Ben was hitting its stride in its seventh and final season How the internet is changing how comedy is viewed, and the difficulty of advertising executives always requesting “a viral video”
Jesse Griffin is probably best known for Wilson Dixon.
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.
Based on a classic novel by Margaret Mahy, The Haunting of Barney Palmer is a fantasy about a young boy who is haunted by his great uncle. Young Barney fears that he has inherited the Scholar family curse; a suite of 80s-era effects ramp up the supernatural suspense. The TV movie was a co-production between PBS (United States) and Wellington's Gibson Group. American actor Ned Beatty (Deliverance, Network) was part of the cast. Mahy based it on her Carnegie Award-winning novel The Haunting; it marked an early fruitful collaboration between her and director Yvonne Mackay.
Bret McKenzie is one half of musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. McKenzie and Jemaine Clement found international fame with the cult HBO comedy, which followed the duo's fictional efforts to 'make it' in New York. An Oscar-winner after writing songs for The Muppets (2011), McKenzie's screen career began after a brief role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy helped win him a cult following.
A proud son of the West Coast, Peter Hawes was a fixture on New Zealand television in the late 70s and early 80s. After writing for A Week of It, he presented Yours for the Asking, giving free rein to his irreverent wit and fondness for wordplay as he answered viewer questions. Hawes also wrote extensively for the theatre and authored a number of well-received novels. Hawes passed away on 29 October 2018.
New Zealander Bill Gavin began his film career in the United Kingdom. After arranging finance for everything from The Killing Fields to Sid and Nancy, he returned home in the 90s to produce a number of features, including What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? and Jubilee. During two years as Head of Feature Films at South Pacific Pictures, he helped develop and finance 2002 hit Whale Rider.
Jemaine Clement is the bespectacled half of folk-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, who achieved international cult status in their own HBO series. Clement's screen career began after he appeared on 90s sketch shows Telly Laughs and Skitz. Following his big screen debut in Tongan Ninja, he starred in misfit romance Eagle vs Shark. In 2014 he co-directed and acted in hit vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows.