In the beginning — of both movies and books — is the word. Many classic Kiwi films and television dramas have come from books (Sleeping Dogs, Whale Rider); and many writers have found new readers, through being celebrated and adapted on screen. This collection showcases Kiwi books and authors on screen. Plus check out booklover Finlay Macdonald's backgrounder.
Half-hour documentary Paper Boat uses off-screen interviews to follow the process of creating a book, from idea to book store. The chapters are built on interviews with an author; editor; designer; a printer and a binder; and finally a bookseller and a librarian — the latter talks about libraries as places of welcome and acceptance. The film's title was inspired by Gregory Kan's poetry collection This Paper Boat. Writer and ex librarian Alex Mitcalfe Wilson's debut film was one of three "advocating for art on the margins", which debuted on website The Lumière Reader.
Pioneering poet, author and journalist Robin Hyde was originally Iris Wilkinson. Directed by Tony Isaac (The Governor), this ambitious co-production for television mines quotations from Wilkinson's writing to dramatise her life. In a parallel plotline, a writer, actor and director wrestle with how to capture Iris on screen. For Australian Helen Morse (Picnic at Hanging Rock) playing Iris was a privilege — and her "most difficult" role to date. Morse concluded that Iris was "extraordinarily vulnerable emotionally". This excerpt includes a cameo by the writer's real life son Derek Challis.
Tony Isaac played a major hand in creating some of the key TV dramas of 1970s Kiwi television. He produced New Zealand's first continuing television drama Pukemanu, co-created Close to Home, our first soap, and was one of the main forces behind The Governor, arguably the most ambitious TV drama yet made on New Zealand soil. Isaac passed away in May 1986.
Keith Aberdein is probably best known for playing the small-town policeman who arouses Bruno Lawrence's ire, in Kiwi screen classic Smash Palace. But his screen work covers almost every angle: from covering the Wahine disaster as a reporter, to directing, to writing scripts for some of the most ambitious television dramas of the 1970s.
Veteran actor Elizabeth McRae, NZOM, is probably best-known for her long-running role as Shortland Street receptionist Marjorie Brasch. Alongside her work as a theatre actor and voice coach, her screen work includes leading roles in the Return Journey episode of anthology series About Face, and Nancy Brunning short Journey to Ihipa.
James Bartle left his native Australia to work in New Zealand in the 1970s. Bartle made a stylish big-screen debut in 1982 with gothic tale The Scarecrow. His work ranges from shooting psychological drama (Heart of the Stag) to splatter movies (Death Warmed Up). In 1987 Bartle won a NZ Film and TV award for his work on end-of-the-world saga The Quiet Earth. Since then he has worked largely on US tele-movies.
Fed up with seeing animals unintentionally mishandled on set, former farm girl Caroline Girdlestone decided to do something about it. Now one of the most respected animal trainers in Australasia, she’s worked with almost any animal imaginable across more than 500 projects – ranging from the cute barnyard animals of Racing Stripes to the horrifying ovine creatures in Black Sheep.
The varied CV of John Charles includes composing music for classic movies Goodbye Pork Pie, Utu and The Quiet Earth. Charles has worked in television on both sides of the Tasman, including time as head of entertainment for Television One, and directing duties on landmark drama series Pukemanu and comedy Buck House.
Mark Wright became one of NZ television's most familiar faces in the 1990s, by imitating other people. The drama school graduate became a a reluctant comedian in an era of skit based shows that included Issues, LaughINZ, That Comedy Show, and Newsflash. His work on Issues and Sportsnight won him two NZ Film and Television awards. Wright's CV also includes a long run of stage roles, as well as live MC'ing and film acting.