Biographer Michael King takes us through the life of pioneering writer Frank Sargeson: from puritanical parents to self-discovery in London, through to decades encouraging an emerging tide of New Zealand writers. The documentary’s most priceless moments are the tales told when four of those writers return to Sargeson’s fabled fibrolite bach, in Takapuna. Kevin Ireland calls it an “oasis, this marvellous place where books ruled supreme”. Sargeson’s purposefuly minimalistic writing style, the doco argues, helped NZ literature find its own voice.
Poet, activist and soon-to-be Mayor of Waitemata, Tim Shadbolt explores the often-maligned art of graffiti in this 1981 special for documentary slot Contact. Shadbolt searches for wit and inspiraton from school desks and court holding cells, to the bathrooms of trendy restaurants. Some of these scribbled sentiments — like “Rob Muldoon before he robs you” — have passed into legend. The best material however, comes from a group of high school girls, encouraged by their right-on English teacher during a class of well-supervised rebellion: “castrate rapists — have a ball!”
In the beginning — of both movies and books — is the word. Many classic Kiwi films and television dramas have come from books (Sleeping Dogs, Whale Rider); and many writers have found new readers, through being celebrated and adapted on screen. This collection showcases Kiwi books and authors on screen. Plus check out booklover Finlay Macdonald's backgrounder.
Aussie import Gavin Strawhan is a screenwriter who has had a hand in many of our recent TV drama successes. After assisting with the set-up of Shortland Street, Strawhan then teamed with writing colleague Rachel Lang to create the drama series Jackson's Wharf, Mercy Peak, Lawless, and This is Not My Life. Strawhan has worked on Burying Brian, Go Girls, and Outrageous Fortune; and co-created the kidult drama Being Eve. He also helped develop a number of feature films such as Crooked Earth, Whale Rider, and Jubilee.
Judy Callingham has had a long and varied television career as a reporter, presenter, and writer. She first appeared on our screens as a continuity announcer, but then moved on to reporting on the 1960s regional programme Town and Around. Callingham then developed her skills as a television drama writer on shows such as Close to Home, Gloss, Shark in the Park and Shortland Street.
Actor and writer Tim Balme has played an integral part in the NZ film and television scene for longer than he chooses to remember, having portrayed good guys, bad guys, the guy next door, creepy guys, dopey guys, lovable guys, clever guys and almost every other guy in between. Lately, Balme has diversified his portfolio and worked as a writer and in drama development.
Paolo Rotondo was born in Italy and has lived there and in New Zealand. In 1997 Rotondo starred in local feature The Ugly winning praise from Variety and The Times, and awards at Rome's Fantastic Film Festival. Following TV appearances in Street Legal and Jackson’s Wharf, he went on to star in urban underbelly feature Stickmen, before writing and directing short film The Freezer. Rotondo returned to the small screen as Dr Andrew Solomon in Kiwi soap Shortland Street, and also appeared as Tim in The Insiders Guide to Happiness. His work as director and writer of Dead Letters won him Best Short Screenplay at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards.
Murray Grindlay first rose to prominence as the lead singer in the 60s blues band The Underdogs. Since then he has written the music for a number of feature films, such as Sleeping Dogs, Once Were Warriors and Broken English; as well as countless TV commercials, including the classics Dear John and the Great Crunchie Train Robbery. Currently Grindlay is producing a web-based kids music show The One Winged-Bee Called Emily.
Film and television writer/director Michael Bennett has been involved with some of New Zealand’s favourite TV dramas, including Street Legal, Mercy Peak and Outrageous Fortune. He has written and directed two acclaimed short films – Cow and Kerosene Creek, and penned the feature film Jubilee. In 2010 he directed his first feature - Matariki.
After countless romances, breakups and revelations — plus the odd psycho and crashing helicopter — Shortland Street turned 25 in May 2017. Made on the run, sold round the globe, the Kiwi soap opera juggernaut has provided a launchpad for dozens of actors and behind the scenes talents. Alongside best of clips, the very first episode, musical moments and favourite memories from the cast, Shortland star turned director Angela Bloomfield writes about how the show has changed here, while Mihi Murray backgrounds how it began — and how it reflects New Zealand.