Miranda, Gordon, Roz and Sharon deal with the life-threatening realities of obesity. Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2002 NZ Television Awards, Big explores their daily routines and difficult relationship with their size. Miranda is severely overweight and can't dress or wash without help; Roz is upfront about her bingeing and its origins in low self-esteem; Gordon undergoes lap band surgery in the hope of curing his tendency to retain weight. Big’s most poignant moments come from Miranda and Roz’s determination not to let their struggles affect their children’s well-being.
This 2006 documentary is a portrait of one of New Zealand politics' most contradictory figures: unionist Ken Douglas. At the time of filming Douglas occupied numerous board positions (eg Air New Zealand, the NZ Rugby Football Union), but early on he was a truckie and Marxist. Rob Muldoon branded him 'Red Ken'. For 15 years until 1999 he led the Council of Trade Unions. Directed by Monique Oomen for Top Shelf Productions, the film is framed around interviews with Douglas and his colleagues, and asks whether he is a turncoat or a strategic realist moving with the times.
Years before it became a national health crisis, star UK broadcaster David Frost hosted this audience discussion on NZ’s “battle of the bulge”. And far from his later interrogation of Nixon, Frost’s form here is loose and relaxed. Analysis makes way for his wry examinations of such du jour weight-loss products as portable saunas, laxative pills, “Easy-Slim” underwear, and the Slendermatic: a muscle vibration unit modelled by a bikini-clad lass reclining on a sheepskin rug. This was one of six Frost Over New Zealand specials filmed over a whirlwind four-day shoot.
Former pro wrestler Wilbur McDougall was battling addiction and self-imposed isolation before undergoing gastric sleeve surgery. For this serio-comic documentary, he let university mate J Ollie Lucks film his journey of transformation. McDougall needs a new wrestling persona — and the "happiness and self-acceptance that has eluded him for so long". Will his friendship with Lucks survive, as the filmmaker jumps at the story from the top rope? Lucks and Julia Parnell's feature began in 2015 as a short film for Loading Docs. The long version debuted at 2017's Doc Edge Festival.
Wilbur Force was once a warrior in the world of NZ pro wrestling, but he has fallen on hard times and is back in his hometown, living on the dole and mattress rather than on the mat. This edition in the second season of Loading Docs short films sees director J Ollie Lucks chronicling his ex-university classmate (real name William McDougall) battling the demons that have kept him from the ring. But McDougall soon questions his director’s motivation. Wilbur Force was selected for the 2015 NZ International Film Festival. A feature film inspired by the wrestler was released in 2017.
Star English interviewer David Frost was international television royalty when he jetted into New Zealand in 1973 to host a series of six hour long shows which were produced by Des Monaghan and directed by Kevan Moore (the longest duration he’d worked on). In the NZBC’s most ambitious undertaking up until then, the six episodes were recorded in just four days. The series began with political leaders — Prime Minister Norman Kirk and Leader of the Opposition Jack Marshall. The other subjects were abortion, obesity, champion athletes, marriage and children.
Roger Hall began writing and acting on television in the late 1960s. In 1976 his debut play Glide Time became a sellout. Later Hall turned this satire of bureaucrats into Gliding On, arguably New Zealand's most successful sitcom to date. Play Middle Aged Spread became a film in 1979. Hall went on to write marital comedy Conjugal Rights for English television. He remains the country's most successful playwright.
Bruce Morrison's extensive career as director, producer and sometime scriptwriter has crossed the gamut: from innovative arts programming and pioneer music videos, to the long-running Heartland series — plus feature films variously involving fast cars, riotous teens and a glamour-struck Donogh Rees.
Robyn Scott-Vincent, MNZOM, is longtime producer of Attitude, the globetrotting series that focuses on people living with a disability. Scott-Vincent has an extensive background as a journalist. Since 1992 she has headed her own production company, Attitude Pictures.
Mark McNeill has been making documentaries for over 20 years. Along the way he has shown a knack for offbeat factual programming, including work with Te Radar and psychologist Nigel Latta. In 1999 McNeill launched company Razor Films. He and Latta went on to reshape The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show for a primetime Australian slot. In 2018 McNeill become the first Kiwi producer to make a series for Netflix.