South Pacific Pictures marked its 30th anniversary in 2018. With drama production at its core, this collection highlights the production company’s prodigious output. The collection spans everything from Marlin Bay to Westside — including hit movies Sione's Wedding and Whale Rider — plus the long-running and beloved Shortland Street. In the backgrounder, longtime SPP boss John Barnett reminisces, and charts the company’s history.
The Five Eyes spy network was set up after WWll to monitor and share intelligence between the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and NZ. According to this interactive documentary, the network sought a new justification for its existence after the Soviet Union's collapse, and found it in digital communications. Narrated by Lucy Lawless, I Spy aims to inform viewers about just what their local intelligence agencies are up to. Interviewees include journalist Nicky Hager and former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden. I Spy was funded by a joint Canadian-NZ Digital Media Fund.
Pacific 3-2-1-Zero is a record of a performance of the eponymous work by renowned percussion group From Scratch. The work was devised in 1981 as a protest against nuclear testing and waste dumping in the Pacific. Ring-leader Phil Dadson, his players and their instruments — from whirling PVC pipes to biscuit tin lids — are arranged in the shape of the peace symbol. From Scratch's rhythms are cut with footage and facts of nuclear testing by director Gregor Nicholas to make for a resonant statement. The film won the Grand Prix at Midem’s 1994 Visual Music Awards.
The music video for this noisy Die! Die! Die! track is a collage classic from arts collective Trophy Wife. The animated scrapbook effect is like going on an OE without leaving your bedroom, by cutting up old Radio Times Coronation Street specials, National Geographic magazines and videos for Morrissey's band The Smiths. 'Sideways Here We Come' appeared on Die! Die! Die!'s second album Promises, Promises (2008), which was produced in New York by Shayne Carter. The album won enthusiastic reviews from The Guardian and NME.
Award-winning web series High Road follows the travails of Terry Huffer (Mark Mitchinson), an ex-rocker washed up in Piha where he DJs from a caravan. This third season opener heads back in time to London, to tell Huffer’s origin story: tracking a big night at a pub and what follows — a confrontation with his Oscar-winning sister, actor Emma Thompson (played by Emma Thompson), and her actor husband Greg Wise (playing Greg Wise). A fed up Thompson drops some choice swear words, compares her brother to Keith Richards, and exports him to New Zealand to sort himself out.
In 1993 Paul Holmes travelled to the UK to meet Margaret Thatcher, who had recently authored "clear and vivid" memoir The Downing Street Years. In this hour-long interview, the outspoken former PM talks NZ anti-nuclear policy (bad), Communism (evil), and sanctions in South Africa (pointless). The horrors of Bosnia, she argues, show what happens when consensus politics win out over strong leadership. An iron lady explosion is only narrowly avoided after Holmes probes Thatcher on David Lange’s comment that meeting her was like being addressed by a Nazi orator.
At 101 Arthur Asher offers a remarkable account of his experiences in World War II. Dates and events come easily to mind as he narrates his time in the North African desert war and Greece. Caught up in the gruelling battle at Bel Hamid near Tobruk, Asher was later wounded by an exploding mine. A stay in a convalescent camp felt more like being in prison to Asher, who went on to fight the German advance in Greece, shooting down a spotter plane in the process. Back in North Africa, he was hit by a car, ending his war with a broken leg and jaw. Asher died on 19 May 2017.
The Chills visited England in 1986. This video mixes a moody rehearsal room performance with reminders of London, including Big Ben, the underground and apartment buildings (British sci fi comic 2000AD can also be spied). Vocalist Martin Phillipps wears the leather jacket of the song’s title. The jacket was bequeathed to him by Chills bandmate Martyn Bull, who died of leukaemia at the age of only 22. Paired with single 'The Great Escape', the song reached number four on the New Zealand charts, early in 1987.
Dating game show Blind Date ran for more than a decade in the United Kingdom and the United States. At two seasons, the Kiwi version proved less of a long-stayer. The show’s format prioritises the importance of clever answers, over impressive looks: the person taking the hot seat asks questions of a trio of unseen contestants, before choosing who to take on a blind date. The series was presented by Dave Jamieson and Suzy Aiken (before she became Suzy Clarkson).
American-born ventriloquist David Strassman was the star of a self-titled show on TV2. These blooper clips from the Strassman Unplugged special see him and his puppets Chuck Wood, Ted E Bare and Sid Beaverman mocking each other as they get their lines wrong. However this isn't just a collection of missed lines — Chuck Wood goes heavy on the expletives to the studio audience and Ted E Bare has a bit of trouble wrangling his props. The show was made for TVNZ; Strassman has also appeared on television in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.