In 1979, Red Mole was arguably New Zealand's best-known alternative theatre troupe. During two seasons in New York they wowed audiences with their Dada-influenced shows. The Villager wrote: "All possible elements of theatre and spectacle are employed by the skilful members of the group." In this 49 minute film, Red Mole take a surreal journey through actual and imaginary New Zealand. Sam Neill had done time as a travelling actor in schools before directing this for the National Film Unit. He collaborated again with editor Judy Rymer on NZ screen history Cinema of Unease.
Shoes is a refugee's story told with rhythm and shoes. A woman seeking shelter in a new country arrives at a railway station troubled by turbulent thoughts of her past. Walking past a shop window, she sees some familiar-looking, worn-out shoes which trigger more memories. Pairs of dancing shoes eloquently recreate her journey from dance hall to war zone. Directed by Sally Rodwell, founding member of alternative theatre troupe Red Mole, Shoes screened at international festivals including Montreal and Hof.
“You get the impression that Wellington wants an audience but doesn’t want to be seen to be trying too hard to get one”. This report surveys 1982's local music scene, framing tensions between an energetic politically-conscious underground, and commercial rock and pop (i.e. Auckland). Not all is positive, with complaints about lack of venues and promotion, and violence at gigs. Interviewees include Mocker Andrew Fagan, Nino Birch (Beat Rhythm Fashion), Dennis O’Brien, Ian Morris, promoter Graeme Nesbitt (in Radio Windy sweatshirt) and punk singer Void (Riot 111).
When German director Peter Falkenberg moved to Christchurch in the 1970s, he faced disdain from conservative locals after setting up avant-garde theatre company Free Theatre. The group was still going strong almost four decades later. Director Shirley Horrocks spent six years capturing their colourful and controversial history, and filming them in action. Interviewees in the 76 minute documentary include director Stuart McKenzie, who reflects on how out there the group was in the early 1980s, and founding member Nick Frost, who recalls when people tried to shut them down.
After making music overseas as part of theatre troupe Red Mole, Jan Preston and Neil Hannan headed home and founded the band that would be known as Coup D'Etat. Preston took lead vocals on this, their debut single. The video — by cinematographer Leon Narbey — sees her performing in a little red dress, while ex Hello Sailor guitarist Harry Lyon continues the colour theme. Then they head out on the highway. 'No Music on My Radio' proved a sadly apt title: local radio showed little interest. The band soon hit the airwaves (and the top 10), with 'Doctor I Like Your Medicine'.
Coup D'Etat was launched by two members of theatre troupe Red Mole (Jan Preston and Neil Hannan), who were soon joined by guitarist Harry Lyon (on a break from Hello Sailor). They are best remembered for Preston's single 'No Music on my Radio' and Lyon's hit 'Doctor I Like Your Medicine' (a NZ Music Awards Single of the Year). After one album they disbanded in 1982. Preston composed soundtracks and reinvented herself as a boogie-woogie pianist; Lyon returned to Hello Sailor; Hannan founded label SDL Music.
Coup D'Etat were a short-lived band featuring Harry Lyon (during a Hello Sailor sabbatical) and Jan Preston (from travelling theatre act Red Mole). The band's second single is an ode to "the dangers of having too much fun". The bright, breezy number was written by Lyon, with the familiar Ponsonby reggae beat favoured by Hello Sailor. Peaking at nine on the charts, it won Best Single at the 1981 NZ Music Awards. The pedestrians in Leon Narbey’s video are near Auckland's Civic Theatre on Queen Street. In the same period, Narbey shot the short film of the same name.
This short documentary about freestyle skiing was directed for the NZ Tourist and Publicity Department by Sam Neill (who would shortly achieve fame as an actor). This was one of several docos directed by Neill while at the National Film Unit; other subjects included the Red Mole theatre troupe and architect Ian Athfield. The skiers put on daring displays of their 'art' in locations including Mount Hutt, Queenstown and Tongariro National Park. 70s snow-styles (and beards) abound. The film was translated into French, Japanese, Italian, German and Spanish.
Fane Flaws has popped up in all kinds of places: on the Blerta bus, holding a paintbrush, and behind a guitar and video camera.
Although better known as a songwriter and a spirited champion of New Zealand music, Arthur Baysting made a number of contributions to the screen. In the 1970s he was a scriptwriter on breakthrough dramas Winners & Losers and Sleeping Dogs, while his white-clad alter ego Neville Purvis graced both cabaret stages and a short-lived TV series. He passed away on 3 December 2019.