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The Making of Sleeping Dogs

Short Film (Full Length) – 2004

Roger came from the school of "if you want it done properly, do it yourself" so consequently he was a bloody nuisance as a director because he would do everybody's jobs for them.
– Ian Mune describes Roger Donaldson on the set of Sleeping Dogs
The crew was small and what happened was everybody was everybody, so I was a general dogsbody, I was also the props, I was also the art department, I was this, that and everything else... we were just always flying.
– Crew member Shelly Lodge remembers the work of the Sleeping Dogs crew
We were in search of nationhood and part of that somehow was, we need our own image of ourselves and Roger was there and delivered the f***king thing at the time we needed it.
– Geoff Murphy on the place of Sleeping Dogs in Kiwi cinema history
I mean the film in a way, it's not really anti-authoritarian but the film, it's a warning to authority and yet the film is being totally backed by institutions and organisations which represent the establishment in New Zealand.
– Roger Donaldson on how the themes in Sleeping Dogs contradicted the support it received
We knew it was a serious risk; Roger Donaldson, Sam Neill, Ian Mune, all of whom are household names now, were not so well known in the mid 1970s.
– Film backer and former banker Don Brash recalls the financial risk of bankrolling Sleeping Dogs
Well Roger, this film you've made, it's causing me a little bit of anxiety, I think I should see it. Would you organise a private screening for me?
– Roger Donaldson remembers a request from Prime Minister Robert Muldoon
He did it against the odds, you know. I mean anybody who knew the scene would have said "don't try boy, you'll never make it". But he did.
– Smith's Dream author CK Stead on Roger Donaldson's determination and drive in adapting his novel to screen
There was a feeling that this could never happen in our safe little, sheep shorn country and then a few years later something like that was happening, so that was interesting.
– Production crew member Shelly Lodge on the similarity between the riot scene in Sleeping Dogs and the 1981 Springbok Tour protests
We were both scared. He was more scared than me. He had a little flask, I can't remember if it was brandy or scotch now, and we drank this whole half bottle...
– Actor Donna Akersten remembers shared nerves before her and Sam Neill's sex scene
It was an endless party if you like, but we all worked, probably 14 hours a day, plus the time to prepare.
– Sleeping Dogs production manager Grahame McLean remembers the work hard party hard atmosphere
I'd picked up a copy of Smith's Dream from, I think, a book shop in Wellington at the airport and I couldn't put it down. I thought "shit this would be a terrific movie" and I'd say "Roger you've got to read this book, this is terrific" and I'd just give it to him and say "do it".
– Bob Harvey remembers badgering his friend Roger Donaldson to adapt CK Stead's novel Smith Dream
What I will say is I was clearly attempting to express myself as a New Zealander on-screen. I was sort of looking for a way to act like a New Zealander, I think.
– Sam Neill on playing Smith in Sleeping Dogs
We smashed the car. now we have to get another car! Drama! Hell! Of course maybe I got flak for it.
– Stunt driver Jerry (Popov) Kostic recalls the day he almost wrote off the film's 'hero' car
No one from New Zealand had had a screen career before me. When I left, I was like a message in a bottle. I threw myself off the cliff and who knew where I’d end up.
– Sam Neill on how his career changed after acting in Sleeping Dogs, Metro, 24 March 2016
National Party leader Don Brash ... helped finance the film as chief executive of investment bank Broadbank. Dr Brash, seeing the film for only the second time, pronounced his second viewing "much more enjoyable" than the first. That was because of the company he was in. The first time time he saw it was at a private screening with prime minister at the time Sir Robert Muldoon, who had been told Kearns' malevolent despot was a thinly veiled portrayal of himself.
– Dominion Post article on a 30th anniversary screening of Sleeping Dogs, 31 January 2009