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.
'Odyssey' is the second single for Ruby Frost (a musical persona created by Auckland singer-songwriter Jane de Jong). With a wink and nod to the DIY craft aesthetic, director Veronica Crockford-Pound’s video presents West Auckland's Bethells Beach as an alien landscape inhabited by exotic, glitter-faced creatures. Accordingly the subject matter of this electro-pop odyssey is more of the space variety than Homeric; but, for all of the astral imagery, the journey in question is actually about de Jong rediscovering her creativity after difficult times.
After-school show Nice One was a popular classic of NZ childrens television, with the show's signature theme tune ("Nice one Stu-y!") and Stu's thumbs-up salute, totemic for kids of the 70s. Host Stu Dennison played a cheeky, long-haired schoolboy who delighted children and infuriated adults with his irreverent antics. But Dennison developed the persona in short live segments for Ready to Roll (shot live at Avalon Studios, excerpted here). Prototype Stu is seen being a truant, reciting rude poetry, singing 10cc and ribbing Roger Gascoigne and 70s metrosexuals.
Che Fu’s influential debut album 2b S.Pacific (1998) melded Pasifika with reggae, soul and hip hop, to create a unique musical home brew. The first single 'Scene III' went to number four on the local charts, and this follow-up (a double A-side, paired with 'Machine Talk') got to the top in October 1998. Cinematographer Duncan Cole (Born to Dance) directs the music video, which sees a pair of Fu personas (street and club?) facing cameras in a film studio, while singing about making "the planet shake". Later Che Fu adds some comedy to a breakdance battle.
Onetime All Blacks Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge cemented their on screen partnership with late 90s show Fresh-up in the Deep End. The Touchdown series saw the pair taking their lovable, duelling larrakin personas to a variety of locations: they did time in the armed services, the circus, flash restaurant Petit Lyon, and as butler and chauffeur to model Rachel Hunter. They also launched their own political party, did the Coast to Coast, and tried a variety of dance moves. Fresh-up in the Deep End ran for two seasons.
Director, writer and actor Taika Cohen (aka Waititi) features in this episode of the stand-up comedy TV series with an off the wall performance as Gunter the German "joke" teller — a buck-toothed, bewigged persona pitched somewhere between Andy Kaufman and Sacha Baron Cohen. Fiona MacKinnon is in more conventional territory recounting her graduation and 21st, and musing about moving suburbs in Wellington. While Andrew Clay has tattoos and one night stands on his mind, and a concern that the early years of the 21st century are lacking in poetry.
The movie that won splatter king Peter Jackson mainstream respectability was born from writer Fran Walsh's long interest in the Parker-Hulme case: two 1950s teens who invented imaginary worlds, wrote under imaginary personas, and murdered Pauline Parker's mother. Jackson and Walsh's vision of friendship, creativity and tragedy was greeted with Oscar nominations, deals with indie company Miramax, and rhapsodic acclaim for the film, and newbie actors Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet. Time magazine and 30 other publications named it one of the year's 10 best films.
Christchurch born musician James Milne took Lawrence Arabia as his stage name because he wanted an outrageous persona to front his own band The Reduction Agents, after playing with The Brunettes from 2002 to 2005. He has recorded two albums as Lawrence Arabia — playing most of the instruments on both of them. In 2009, his second album ‘Chant Darling’ was the inaugural winner of the Taite Music Prize for best independently released album of the year; and his song ‘Apple Pie Bed’ (co-written with the Phoenix Foundation’s Luke Buda) won the APRA Silver Scroll.
Kiwi legends Split Enz broke moulds with their genrebending songs, onstage personas and zany art-school infused outfits. Among their many members, they introduced Phil Judd and Te Awamutu troubadours Tim and Neil Finn to the world. Formed in the early 70s, the band found mainstream success with 1980 album True Colours. Neil Finn-penned single 'I Got You' topped charts on both sides of the Tasman. The band's story was told in 1993 documentary Spellbound and in an episode of arts show Kaleidoscope. A number of reunion performances followed the band's breakup in 1984.
The Governor was a television epic that examined the life of Governor George Grey in six thematic parts. Grey's "Good Governor" persona was undercut with laudanum, lechery and land confiscation. NZ TV's first (and only) historical blockbuster was hugely controversial, provoking a parliamentary inquiry and "test match sized" audiences. It won a 1978 Feltex Award for Best Drama. Auckland Star reviewer Barry Shaw trumpeted: "It has made Māori matter. If Pākehā now have a better understanding of the Māori point of view [...] it stems from The Governor.