'No 8 wire' Kiwi ingenuity is defined by problem solving from few resources (No 8 wire is fencing wire that can be adapted to many uses, an ability that was particularly handy for isolated NZ settlers). Embodied in heroes from Richard Pearse to PJ, Kiwi ingenuity is a quality dear to our national sense of self. It has been memorably celebrated, and sometimes satirised, on screen.
Peter Jackson has gone from shy fanboy to master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood. With six journeys into Middle-earth now behind him, he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking. Led by early 'behind the scenes' docos this collection pays tribute to PJ's journey, from re-making King Kong in his backyard to err ... re-making King Kong in his backyard.
This documentary showcases some of the tricks of the trade used by Peter Jackson in the making of his first feature — the aliens-amok-in-Makara splatter classic, Bad Taste. Compiled following the film's 1988 Cannes market screening, it's framed around an extensive interview with a 25-year-old Jackson at his parents’ Pukerua Bay home. These excerpts offer fascinating insight into his ingenuity: from building a DIY Steadicam, to the making of the infamous sheep-obliterating rocket launcher scene, to PJ musing on the impetus that being an only child provided him.
Pre-dating Peter Jackson's arrival (Bad Taste) by three years, New Zealand's first horror movie sees Michael Hurst making his movie debut as he fights mutants (including Bruno Lawrence) on Waiheke Island. Hurst's character is out to avenge the mad scientist who forced him to kill his parents. A grand prize-winner at a French fantasy festival (with cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky on the jury), David Blyth's splatterfest marked the first of many horrors funded by the NZ Film Commission. It was also the first local showcase of the smoothly-flowing Steadicam camera.
Graeme Cowley is a cinematographer with an impressive line-up of features to his credit including Smash Palace, Utu, and Carry Me Back (which he also produced). Cowley also set up pioneering equipment hire company Film Facilities with Nigel Hutchinson, to bolster the range of camera equipment available to independent filmmakers. He was a prime mover behind the restoration of Utu, Utu Redux.
Peter Salmon is a Kiwi drama director with a trans-Tasman career. He began with a series of well-received short films: Playing Possum, Letters About the Weather, and Fog. Since then Salmon has directed a number of TV dramas in both New Zealand (Being Eve, Outrageous Fortune, This is Not My Life, Nothing Trivial); and Australia (Mr and Mrs Murder, Secrets and Lies, Offspring).
Richard Bluck began working as a cameraman at the Avalon Television Centre in the 1970s. Alongside a host of other projects, he has brought his skills as director of photography to features Black Sheep, What We Do in the Shadows, Second-Hand Wedding and many short films.
Cinematographer John Cavill was trained in the glory days of state television. After entering the industry at the age of 17, he went on to film everything from comedy to sports — then from the late 1990s, globally successful shows like Hercules, Xena and Spartacus. His CV reflects his experience in shooting action and visual effects. In 2018 Cavill won a Daytime Emmy for Chinese-American production Scars of Nanking.
James Bartle left his native Australia to work in New Zealand in the 1970s. Bartle made a stylish big-screen debut in 1982 with gothic tale The Scarecrow. His work ranges from shooting psychological drama (Heart of the Stag) to splatter movies (Death Warmed Up). In 1987 Bartle won a NZ Film and TV award for his work on end-of-the-world saga The Quiet Earth. Since then he has worked largely on US tele-movies.
Colin McKenzie joins Rudall Hayward and Ted Coubray as one of the earliest New Zealanders to make feature films on Kiwi soil. McKenzie was a technical innovator, responsible for a number of international filmmaking firsts. His unfinished epic Salome finally premiered in 1995, six decades after his death.