Sam Neill has acted in forgotten Kiwi TV dramas (The City of No) and classic Kiwi movies (Sleeping Dogs, The Piano, Hunt for the Wilderpeople). His career has taken him from the UK (Reilly: Ace of Spies) to Hawaii (Jurassic Park) to dodgy Melbourne nightclubs (Death in Brunswick). As Neill turns 70, this collection celebrates his range, modesty and style — and the fact he was directing films before winning acting fame. In these backgrounders, friends Ian Mune and Roger Donaldson raise a glass to a talented, self-deprecating actor and fan of good music and pinot noir.
"Kevin has a strict daily routine, part of which is about to be taken away — throwing his life into turmoil." The Kevin in question is Solid Gold FM DJ Kevin Black, and the essential part of his everyday routine being removed is … sleep. This second episode of the 2001 Touchdown reality series — in which varied participants deal with deprivation — sees ’Blackie' slowly but surely disintegrating over 70 sleepless hours. Despite caffeine, gym and jigsaws, his performance at memory game Simon suffers, he faces hallucinations, and the delirious results are heard over the airwaves.
New Zealand's representatives in parliament have had some of their most memorable moments captured on camera. This collection showcases their screen legacy: from stirring addresses (Kirk), feisty debates (Muldoon, Lange, Olympic boycotts), revolutions, nukes, and snap elections, to political punches (Bob Jones), and young leaders (Clark). Listener writer Toby Manhire writes about Kiwi politicians on screen here.
This 2012 JAM TV series followed media personality Jaquie Brown as she confronted the travails of 21st Century motherhood, raising her first child Leo. Directed by Jane Andrews, the series mixed a video diary (sleep deprivation, poop and occasional joy), with reenactments, interviews, and archive material. Brown had earlier written a cheeseburger crotch n’all chronicle of her pregnancy, I’m Not Fat, I’m Pregnant. The six-part series was filmed for two half-days a week, over a year. It screened on TV One on Wednesdays at 8pm.
In his early career, feature film director Roger Donaldson put himself in risky positions while filming adventure documentaries, including The Adventure World of Sir Edmund Hillary. With his friend Ian Mune, he created Winners & Losers, a landmark series of dramas based on stories by New Zealand writers, which in turn inspired the pair to adapt CK Stead’s novel Smith’s Dream into feature film Sleeping Dogs. The major turning point in Donaldson’s career was his feature Smash Palace, which screened at Cannes and earned rave reviews. Since Smash Palace, Donaldson has thrived in Hollywood, working with notable actors including Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner and Pierce Brosnan. He returned to New Zealand to make the Burt Munro biopic The World’s Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins.
Named Head of the Internal Production Department at TVNZ while still in her late 20s, Dana Youngman first worked her way up the producing ladder on lifestyle shows like Maggie’s Garden Show and A Taste of Home. Since then she has worked on New Zealand’s Got Talent and Whānau Living, and helped create a cooking show with Annabel Langbein which screened in more than 80 countries.
Justin Pemberton's work for the screen can be split roughly into two. His eclectic and award-winning run of documentaries includes motor-racing story Love, Speed and Loss and acclaimed Olympic saga The Golden Hour. He has also worked on many music projects, from music videos to documentaries about Anika Moa and the NZ Symphony Orchestra.
Wayne Tourell is a prime contender for having the longest CV of any director in local television. Tourell began as an actor and presenter. The multiple Feltex award-winner has gone on to direct documentaries (Landmarks, Moriori), drink driving campaigns, teen movie Bonjour Timothy — not to mention episodes of Mortimer’s Patch, Shortland Street, Gloss and his beloved legal drama Hanlon.
“The funniest, liveliest, most exuberant film ever made in New Zealand”. So said critic Nicholas Reid, a year after Came a Hot Friday became 1985's biggest local hit. Though Billy T’s loony Mexican-Māori cowboy is beloved by fans, he is but one eccentric here among many — as two scheming conmen hit town, and encounter bookies, boozers, country hicks, nasty crim Marshall Napier, and Prince Tui Teka playing saxophone. Until the arrival of The Piano in 1993, Ian Mune and Dean Parker’s award-loaded adaptation remained NZ's third biggest local hit. Ian Pryor writes about the film here.
A clever thinker whose love of stories bridged the gap between art and commerce, producer Don 'Scrubbs' Blakeney helped set the NZ film industry on a path of rapid expansion, and financed such pioneering films as Utu and Goodbye Pork Pie.