Director and producer Mark Beesley has worked on some of New Zealand's most high profile series, including Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street, The Blue Rose and The Almighty Johnsons. Beesley also worked on the big American shows Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: Legendary Journeys. He also wrote and directed the 'Westie' feature film Savage Honeymoon, which some credit as an inspiration for Outrageous Fortune.
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 Savages are a working class West Auckland family who like drinking, and living by their own rules. Savage Honeymoon is a celebration of their passion and leather pants - and a snapshot of a couple worried their children may not be as lucky as them. Mark Beesley’s debut feature won good reviews (The Herald praised its “self-confident swagger”) – and headlines, after being downgraded from an R18 to R15. The film pre-dated the Westie family of Outrageous Fortune - though Beesley then hated the Westies label, disliking the word’s negative connotations.
The stars in an Auckland harbour master’s eyes are of the cowboy variety in this documentary that goes behind the scenes of the Western Districts' Fast Draw Club. The westie club takes literal inspiration from its name, as its members — from truck drivers to accountants — meet in the basement of a dairy to recreate scenes from the American wild west. Director Greg Stitt aimed to explore, “the fantasies ordinary people need to survive”; and his partly-dramatised doco details the impressive preparation (and passion) that goes into the live shows and stunts.
Politician Paula Bennett proudly proclaims her West Auckland roots in this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday. Bennett talks about how hit show Outrageous Fortune was important in helping Kiwis reclaim pride in being a bogan — and a Westie. She also praises the show's strong yet vulnerable matriarch Cheryl West. Robyn Malcolm, who played Cheryl, remembers early days in the role, before Outrageous Fortune became "the show where New Zealanders fell in love with themselves". Outside of Shortland Street, it became part of the country's longest-running drama franchise.
Self-described as “Ewen Gilmour’s not-so-special”, this episode from stand-up showcase Pulp Comedy praises Gilmour's beloved West Auckland. Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey even presents his Cultural Ambassador with the coathanger to the city. Nothing escapes the late comedian’s warm-hearted bogan barbs, from cerebral palsy to the Avon River. Also included are an ode to hitchhiking, George Mallory’s claims to have beaten Hillary, the love-making benefits of a goatee, flying high, stoned semen, westie Halloween and using the SPCA as a cattery.
Sean's prize possession is a 1958 red and white Ford Fairlane. His sister Annie works in an auto paint shop. But Annie is sick of playing shotgun, while her brother drives. What she wants is Sean's trust, and the chance to use her spraypainting talents to give the Fairlane a new look. After the Fairlane is stolen, the pair find themselves caught up in an adventure which tests their relationship. Writer Debra Daley based the script on a short story she had written about growing up in the ‘car culture' of Henderson, in West Auckland.
A prequel to classic TV3 series Outrageous Fortune, Westside travels back in time to meet young Rita (Antonia Prebble), Ted (David de Lautour) and their son Wolf West, on the make in West Auckland. This first episode opens with Ted leaving Mt Eden prison, then sets him on a safe-cracking plot that is aided by the 1974 Commonwealth Games. Prebble played Loretta West in Outrageous, and first took on the role of Rita in flashbacks from season four. Devised by Outrageous creators James Griffin and Rachel Lang, Westside won acclaim: "all the hallmarks of a classic", said Stuff.
Filmmaker Tom Reilly went to Graham Gordon’s West Auckland wrecker’s yard to buy car parts. He soon found himself chronicling Gordon’s battle with the former Waitakere Council trying to clear his 100 acre property (nicknamed Gordonia) of car wrecks, and a small army of colourful but largely destitute men camping there. The result was a documentary capturing the gulf between Gordon’s cheerful but dogged non-conformity and a council determined to enforce its by-laws at all costs. The soundtrack is by guitar legend and occasional resident Billy TK Senior.
Outrageous Fortune ran for six seasons, and lodged itself in New Zealand pop culture forever. The series tells the story of Cheryl West and her attempts to turn her Westie family away from a life of crime. A ratings hit for TV3, Outrageous Fortune proved that New Zealand television drama could hold its own against overseas productions.