With its mix of quirky characters, lush scenery, and medical drama, Mercy Peak proved to be a winning formula. Produced by John Laing for South Pacific Pictures, and starring a host of NZ acting talent (Tim Balme, Jeffrey Thomas, Renato Bartolomei, et al), Mercy Peak follows the highs and lows of Dr Nicky Somerville (Sara Wiseman), who leaves the big city after discovering her partner’s infidelity. Taking up her new role at the hospital in the tiny town of Bassett, Nicky soon learns that life is full of complexities no matter the population.
Luscious fruit, truckies, and Lucy Lawless feature in this Christine Parker short. Sal (Tania Simon) is gifted a peach and meets a saucy tow truck driver (Lawless) en route home to her toddler, and domestics with boyfriend Mog (Joel Tobeck). Mog’s truckie mates arrive for beers, including the nameless driver, whose presence (and peach-eating advice) stirs up desire. “Watch it rot, or taste it when it’s ripe.” A roster of leading NZ film talent worked with Parker on the film, and Lawless' turn hints at the cross-sexual appeal of her breakthrough role on Xena - Warrior Princess.
This motors and mullets documentary focuses on a group who are obsessed by stock car racing. Shot by Stuart Dryburgh (Once Were Warriors) and Richard Scott, it follows a group of drivers and their crews and families, as they ready for Saturday night racing at Onehunga's Waikaraka Park Speedway. Hours are spent preparing and repairing the one-and-a-half tonne cars, which travel at up to 112 kilometres an hour in one of the few full contact motor sports. Passion, ego and cunning fuel the drama. Injuries and personal sacrifices are the price for the part-time petrol heads.
Produced by John Laing and featuring a star-studded cast (Sara Wiseman, Tim Balme, et al), South Pacific Pictures' award-winning 'seachange' series Mercy Peak hit just the right note with its down-home sincerity and quirky-but-complex characters. In this excerpt from the first episode, Doctor Nicky Somerville (Sara Wiseman) discovers the cheating ways of her partner (a deliciously oily Simon Prast) and decides it's time to get out. On her way to finding her bliss in the tiny town of Bassett she has an inauspicious beginning: a minor collision with the town's iconic pig.
Three friends cruise inner-city Auckland in a 1946 Ford pickup, as they cope with the changing dynamic of their friendship and encroaching demands of the adult world. In the tradition of American Graffiti it captures the hope promised by a night on the town and a reality that struggles to meet expectations — punctuated by hoons, officious cops and dodgy tow truck operators. Queen Street is a fascinating look at Kiwi car and street culture in the pre-boyracer era, and a snapshot of a downtown that has changed markedly since 1981 when the film screened on TV.
Eight years after debuting on TV sketch show Funny Business, Lucy Lawless won international fame for her starring role on Xena: Warrior Princess. The series won her a devoted fan following, and invitations to guest-star on everything from The Simpsons to Bro' Town. Since the end of Xena's six season run, Lawless has mainly acted for American television, including a role as bad girl Lucretia in locally-shot series Spartacus.
Wesley Dowdell auditioned for his first play in an attempt to get out of a maths class at Onehunga High School. It was love. At 17 the “born Westie” began the first of many roles with Auckland’s Massive Theatre Company. In 2007, a guest turn playing a gormless tow truck driver on Outrageous Fortune blossomed into an ongoing role. In 2014 he got behind the drumkit — playing Knuckles in comedy series Coverband.
Robyn Malcolm is one of New Zealand television’s best-loved actors. An accomplished stage performer before moving into screen roles, she is best known for six seasons as Outrageous Fortune matriarch Cheryl West. Malcolm has appeared in television (Shortland Street, Agent Anna, Upper Middle Bogan), movies (The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell) and documentaries (Our Lost War).
John Leigh won a legion of fans with his first television role, as nice guy cafe owner Lionel Skeggins on Shortland Street. After five years the character finally went missing in 1999 — presumed drowned — while fleeing dodgy wife Mackenzie Choat. Leigh won further fans as Sparky the pyromaniac in Outrageous Fortune. He has amassed dozens of screen credits, often playing well-meaning but offbeat characters. His screenography includes the bar-owner in Stickmen, an angry scriptwriter in soap satire Serial Killers, ongoing roles in 800 Words, The Almighty Johnsons and Mercy Peak, and a range of voiceover work.
At high school Craig Parker was "the world's most uncoordinated kid". After discovering that taking drama would mean less time in PE, he picked acting. The decision launched a 30+ year career around the globe. His screen roles include Shortland Street, Mercy Peak, and TV movie Shackleton's Captain. Since winning a keen fan base for a bit part in Lord of the Rings, he has also acted in Spartacus and Reign.