Christopher Columbus sailed 15,000 miles to find the new world: "500 years later, it turned up on the doorstep." This documentary chronicles New Zealand's hit contribution to Expo '92, held on the Seville island where Columbus apparently planned his voyages. Amidst the celebrations, come culture clashes. Reporter Marcia Russell argues that ultimately Expo is about creating consumers and brand awareness, by selling New Zealad as sophisticated, exotic, proud, and culturally mature. It is also a chance to persuade the masses that Aotearoa is actually south.
This 1991 story from magazine show Sunday profiles Logan Brewer: production designer on Kiwi TV classics (C’Mon, Hunter’s Gold), and producer of Terry and the Gunrunners and live ‘spectaculars’ like the 1990 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. He talks through his career: learning about performing at England's National Theatre, and selling Aotearoa as “the last paradise” for Expo '92 in Seville — for which he is shown wrangling an extended shot of Kiri Te Kanawa and the NZ Symphony Orchestra, promoting fibreglass pohutukawa, and working with designer Grant Major.
The ‘OE’ is a Kiwi rite of passage, but for those travelling in a Kombi van, the trip can feel “like mixed flatting in a space the size of a ping-pong table” (Peter Calder). In Kombi Nation, Sal sets off to tour Europe with her older sister and friend; they’re joined by a dodgy male and a TV crew, recording the shenanigans. Shot guerilla style after workshopping with the young cast, Grant Lahood’s well-reviewed second feature anticipated the rise of observational ‘reality TV’, but its release was hindered by the collapse of production company Kahukura Films.
An outstanding project designer, Logan Brewer first made his mark on television with ambitious period drama Hunter’s Gold. In the early 80s he went freelance, producing cop show Mortimer’s Patch and children’s drama Terry and the Gunrunners. His major project work included opening and closing ceremonies for the 1990 Commonwealth Games, and NZ pavilions at Expos in Brisbane and Seville. Brewer passed away in August 2015.
Max Cryer’s career as an entertainer has encompassed singing on stage and screen, time in the United States, and pioneering live talk shows on television (Town Cryer). After a busy decade of TV presenting beginning in the late 60s, Cryer went behind the scenes to produce a clutch of quiz shows — before a late flowering as a prolific, bestselling author, exploring his love of words and Kiwi culture.
Actor Marton Csokas came to fame in the early 90s, playing the bumbling Dr Dodds in Shortland Street. Since then he has appeared in interracial romance Broken English and coming of age story Rain, before starting a run of international roles — often as the villain — in everything from xXx to The Bourne Supremacy.
After boning up on set design at TVNZ and the BBC, Palmerston North-born Grant Major has gone on to design movies for Peter Jackson and Niki Caro. His work as a production designer on epics Lord of the Rings and King Kong resulted in a run of international accolades, including an Academy Award for Return of the King.
Tom Finlayson has worked in television in almost every capacity: as a reporter and producer in the cauldron of daily news, developing and producing classic drama shows (Under the Mountain, Mortimer's Patch) and movies, directing documentaries (The Party's Over) — as well as commissioning programmes, during a three year stint as TVNZ’s Director of Production.
Marcia Russell, OBE, blazed a trail for women working in print and screen journalism. Her TV work ranged from reporting and documentary making, to Beauty and the Beast panelist, and a key role in the creation of TV3. She was behind the award-winning Revolution series (surveying 80s Labour government reforms), and contributed to major series Landmarks and The New Zealand Wars. Russell died on 1 December 2012.
Ian Fraser made his name in the late 70s as one of New Zealand’s most respected interviewers, facing off against everyone from Robert Muldoon to the Shah of Iran. In 2002, after time spent in public relations and as head of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, he returned to Television New Zealand — this time as its chief executive.