In Bed with the Orchestra

Television, 1993 (Full Length)

This Steve La Hood-directed documentary provides a candid, behind-the-scenes portrait of an orchestral musician's life, following the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for 13 days on a nationwide tour. Included is footage of rehearsals, travel, and concert performances. There's a glimpse of some internal politics, and insight into how the musicians relax. Holding the baton is conductor Nicholas Braithwaite; guest pianist on tour is Peter Donohoe. Rachmaninov's 3rd Piano Concerto and Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio feature prominently.

Artist

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

From modest beginnings at informal sessions at Wellington institution Deluxe Cafe (beside Embassy Theatre on Kent Terrace), the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra has ridden the crest of the diminutive instrument's revival. Live favourites around the country, they have recorded a string of EPs featuring massed ukulele renditions of 80s favourites along with the occasional dash of Kiwiana and more contemporary numbers. Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie was a founder member of the accomplished strummers.

Artist

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Following the breakup of The Mint Chicks, singer Ruban Nielson moved to Portland, launching his new career with an anonymous on-line single in 2010. His subsequent psych rock, funk and soul influenced endeavours have been released as The Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Pitchfork hailed the “unique immersive and psychedelic quality” of UMO's debut album, which was awarded the 2012 Taite Music Prize. Nielson won Best Male Solo Artist at the NZ Music Awards and UMO follow-up II was voted Best Alternative Album in 2013. Third album Multi-Love was released in 2015 to strong reviews.

It's a Heartache

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, Music Video, 2008

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra's version of Bonnie Tyler's wrenching 70s hit was the title track of their debut EP. In director Tim Capper's video, they manage to take the song to new levels of pathos with vocalist Andy Morley-Hall's quest for a slice of vegan apple and rhubarb tart. The location is a crowded Deluxe Cafe (where the ensemble emerged from informal Thursday morning sessions). Age Pryor contributes the solo and, amongst the group's massed ranks, there's a masked nod to absent member and Flight of the Conchord Bret McKenzie.

Collection

NZ Music Month

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This NZ Music Month collection showcases NZ music television, spun from a playlist of classic documentaries and beloved music shows. From Split Enz to the NZSO, Heavenly Pop Hits to Hip Hop New Zealand, whether you count the beat or roll like this, there’s something here for all ears (and eyes). Plus music writer Chris Bourke gets Ready to Roll with this pop history primer.

Collection

Kiwi Ingenuity

Curated by NZ On Screen team

'No 8 wire' Kiwi ingenuity is defined by problem solving from few resources (No 8 wire is fencing wire that can be adapted to many uses, an ability that was particularly handy for isolated NZ settlers). Embodied in heroes from Richard Pearse to PJ, Kiwi ingenuity is a quality dear to our national sense of self. It has been memorably celebrated, and sometimes satirised, on screen.

Collection

NZ Disasters

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection looks at some of New Zealand's most significant national tragedies. Spanning 150+ years, it tells stories of drama, caution, hope and recovery — from the 1863 wreck of the Orpheus at Manukau Heads, to Tarawera, the Wahine, Erebus, Pike River and Christchurch. In the backgrounder, Jock Phillips writes about the collection, and the "common sequence" to disaster.

Collection

NZ On Air Top 20

Curated by Kathryn Quirk

NZ On Air began funding local content in 1989. Timing in with the launch of a new funding system, this collection looks back at the 20 most watched NZ On Air-funded programmes over the years (aside from news and sports). Ratings information is only available from 1995, so this is how things have shaped up from 1995 to 2016 — plus some bonus titles. Most of the Top 20 has been captioned. Ex NZ On Air exec Kathryn Quirk tells us here how the complete list rated, while original NZOA boss Ruth Harley remembers how it all began.

Collection

Kiwi Love Songs

Curated by NZ On Screen team

NZ On Screen has selected this collection of 30 Kiwi love songs, which spans 50 years of music. The list ranges widely — from an early Loxene Golden Disc winner for Ray Columbus and the Invaders, to Dragon in the 70s, and in the 80s, everyone from Blam Blam Blam to Prince Tui Teka. Entries from later decades include Tiki Taane and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. That's not even the half of it: along the way, check out a trio of classics whose take on romance is positively oceanic: 'Anchor Me', 'Sway' and 'Not Given Lightly'. 

So Good at Being in Trouble

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Music Video, 2013

Ruban Nielson’s Portland-based Unknown Mortal Orchestra explores lo-fi, funk psychedelia on this bittersweet number from their second album. The video, shot by an American cast and crew at counter-culture hangout Venice Beach in Los Angeles, follows Chris Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kick-Ass) as he attempts to extricate a loved one from the clutches of a panhandling, Manson Family style cult. Former Mint Chick Nielson (in black jersey and beanie) and his fellow UMO members have cameos but can’t compete with the family members dancing in the California sun.