Tony Williams

Director

Tony Williams' contribution to the development of NZ film and television has been huge: his camerawork for John O'Shea's 60s feature-films, the nine ground-breaking documentaries he directed for Pacific Films, and his feature Solo, which helped launch the 70s new wave. After moving to Australia in 1980, Williams continued to wield a lively influence on our culture by directing many legendary commercials.

Collection

The Tony Williams Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection is a celebration of the eccentric, exuberant career of NZ screen industry frontrunner Tony Williams. As well as being at the helm of many iconic ads (Crunchie, Bugger, Spot, Dear John) Williams made inventive, award-winning indie TV documentaries, and shot or directed pioneering feature films, including Solo and cult horror Next of Kin.

Collection

The Top 10 NZ Television Ads

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Great adverts are strange things: mini works of magic, with the power to make viewers smile, cry, and even buy. Kiwi directors have shown such a knack for making them, they've been invited to do so across the globe. But this collection is about local favourites; dogs on skateboards, choc bar robberies, ghost chips. NZ On Screen's Irene Gardiner backgrounds the top 10 here.

Interview

Tony Williams: Director of our most iconic TV commercials...

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Tony Williams is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished directors; his career has spanned five decades. Williams began working with noted film producer John O’Shea at Pacific Films in the 1960s and shot two features, and directed nine documentary films. In the 1970s he directed his first feature film Solo, and a series of documentaries including Getting Together, The Day We Landed on the Most Perfect Planet in the Universe, Take Three Passions, Rally, and Lost in the Garden of the World. Though not a household name himself, Williams has directed some of the most iconic TV commercials in New Zealand. These include: Great Crunchie Train Robbery, Dear John, SPOT and the infamous Bugger commercials.

Sound the Trumpets Beat the Drums

Television, 1969 (Full Length)

The late 60s saw globetrotting filmmaker Tony Williams shoot and edit two films for Iranian director Mahmoud Khosrowshahi. Here Williams chronicles an east meets west festival held in the Iranian city of Shiraz. Williams’ love affair with music and montage helps lend pace and life to a film whose sonic interests range from Iranian lutes and Indian oboes to American Cathy Berberian, who is busy turning comic strips into song. A glimpse of cosmopolitan Iran prior to the Iranian Revolution, it includes a rare interview with New Yorker classical music critic Andrew Porter.

Takis Unlimited

Television, 1969 (Full Length)

This BBC2-screened film is a look at the European art world of the late 1960s, and a meditation on the nature of art and the pricing of art, shot by Tony Williams. The origins of this film are suitably cosmopolitan. It was initiated by an Iranian student – and underwritten by Jeremy Fry from Cadbury Fry Hudson. Its focus is Takis, a Greek artist who creates kinetic sculptures out of discarded electronic objects (at times reminiscent of Len Lye’s work), and plans to mass produce cheaper versions of his work to make his art accessible. But will it still be art?

Collection

Artists on Screen Collection

Curated by Mark Amery

For this screen showcase of NZ visual arts talent, critic Mark Amery selects his top documentaries profiling artists. From the icons (Hotere, McCahon, Lye) to the unheralded (Edith Collier) to Takis the Greek, each portrait shines light on the person behind the canvas. "Naturally inquisitive, with an open wonder about the world, they make for inspiring onscreen company."

Collection

Better Safe than Sorry

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Long before Ghost Chips, even before "don't use your back like a crane", life in Godzone was fraught with hazards. This collection shows public safety awareness films spanning from the 50s to the 70s. If there's kitsch enjoyment to be had in the looking back (chimps on bikes?!) the lessons remain timeless. Remember: It's better to be safe than sorry.

Lost in the Garden of the World

Television, 1975 (Full Length)

Cannes is the town in France where Bergman meets bikinis, and the art of filmmaking meets the art of the deal. In 1975, a group of expat Kiwis managed to score interviews with some of the festival's emerging talents, indulging their own cinematic dreams in the process. Werner Herzog waxes lyrical on the trials and scars of directing; a boyish Steven Spielberg recalls the challenges of framing shots during Jaws; Martin Scorsese and Dustin Hoffman talk a gallon. Six years later interviewer Michael Heath's debut script The Scarecrow would be invited to Cannes.

Solo

Film, 1977 (Excerpts)

Solo is a story about three people on the edge of nowhere, struggling to decide how much of themselves to share with those they care about. Young Australian hitchhiker Judy romances solo Dad Paul, who finds peace flying fire patrol planes above the forest. Paul's precocious son reacts badly to losing pole position to Judy, and takes to the air. Inspired partly by the oft-painful times when we are "more acutely in touch” with our emotions, Tony Williams' romance helped launch the Kiwi movie renaissance. But as he writes in the backgrounder, there was no fun in filming it three times.