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Peter Wells: Desperate Remedies and making queer films...

Posted on 12 May 2014

Peter Wells is an accomplished writer and director who has explored gay and historical themes in his work. Among his television and film credits are the ground-breaking TV dramas Jewel’s Darl and A Death in the Family. Wells also created the feature film Desperate Remedies with co-director Stewart Main. In later years he has collaborated with filmmakers Annie Goldson (Georgie Girl) and Garth Maxwell (Naughty Little Peeptoe). 

In this ScreenTalk, Wells talks about:

  • The idea for My First Suit coming from his co-director Stewart Main
  • Knowing that the TV drama Jewel’s Darl would enrage people
  • How actress Georgina Beyer was made for the role of Jewel
  • Filming a scene in front of a real protest against homosexual law reform
  • Having a huge problem with TV censors over the drama
  • How a personal experience lead to the film A Death in the Family
  • Turning a desire to save at-risk architecture into The Mighty Civic
  • How budget constraints lead to the high theatre of Desperate Remedies
  • Having to convince the Film Commission on the casting choices
  • Telling the impressive story of Georgina Beyer in Georgie Girl
  • Believing that queer filmmaking does have a future 

This video was first uploaded on 12 May 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence. 

 
 

  Tags

peter wells, writer, director, gay, nz tv dramas, jewels darl, a death in the family, desperate remedies, stewart main, annie goldson, georgie girl, garth maxwell, naughty little peeptoe, my first suit, georgina beyer, the mighty civic, queer

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Mike Smith: On directing drama and passing on Russell Crowe...

Posted on 28 April 2014

Versatile director Mike Smith has made an enormous amount of New Zealand drama. Highlights of his lengthy television CV include Radio WavesDugganSerial KillersThe Almighty JohnsonsNothing Trivial, tele-movie Siege and upcoming docudrama Nancy Wake: The White Mouse. Smith also had a big hand in creating Heroes (80s pop band on-the-make show), yokels comedy Willy Nilly, children’s drama The Lost Children and 2013 comedy Sunny Skies. He was also one of the key players in the launch of Outrageous Fortune.

In this ScreenTalk interview, Smith talks about:

  • The unforgettable personnel officer when he interviewed to join state television
  • Vital lessons learned from drama head John McRae, while directing 70s soap Radio Waves
  • Producing and directing Heroes, the drama series about a pop band
  • Failing to cast a young unknown called Russell Crowe
  • Differences between Australia and NZ, after eight years largely working across the Tasman
  • Returning home for drama series Cover Story
  • Creating shows after setting up a production company with editor John Gilbert
  • Making successful short Willy Nilly, about two “rural idiots,” and learning about the complexities of comedy on the hit TV series which followed
  • Casting secrets from his days as producer of Outrageous Fortune: including a lack of network enthusiasm for star Robyn Malcolm, and Munter originally being a Pākehā
  • Working with “fantastic” producer/director Mark Beesley on The Almighty Johnsons
  • How in a sense directing is a little bit like sex
  • Taking different approaches to turning true life stories into drama with Siege and Underbelly: Land of the Long Green Cloud
  • Lessons learned as a director

This video was first uploaded on 28 April 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence. 

 
 

  Tags

directing, producing, acting, comedy, farce, russell crowe, michael hurst, john gilbert, mark beesley, robyn malcolm, antony starr, antonia prebble, tammy davis, outrageous fortune, john mcrae, russell crowe, michael hurst, john gilbert, mark beesley, robyn malcolm, antony starr, antonia prebble, tammy davis, jan molenaar, outrageous fortune, radio waves, heroes, cover story, the almighty johnsons, siege, nancy wake: the white mouse, underbelly nz - land of the long green cloud, willy nilly

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Kevin J Wilson: On avoiding the leading role...

Posted on 14 April 2014

Veteran actor Kevin J Wilson has made a career out of playing no-nonsense Kiwi blokes. His film credits include Pictures, Wild Horses and Chunuk Bair. He played Janet Frame’s father in Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table, starred in the Wellington-based TV cop series Shark in the Park, and replaced the late Bruno Lawrence in the Aussie comedy show Frontline.

In this ScreenTalk, Wilson talks about:

  • How the weather on a Pukemanu shoot changed industry pay rates
  • Not really knowing what he was doing in the film Pictures
  • How troubled feature film Wild Horses went wrong right from the beginning
  • Enjoying hanging out with real cops preparing for Shark in the Park
  • Playing ‘end of an era’ character Sgt Jessop in the show
  • Meeting Janet Frame on the set of An Angel at My Table
  • Working with the “intense but wonderful” Jane Campion
  • Feeling the film Chunuk Bair looked too much like a piece of theatre
  • Taking over from Bruno Lawrence as the star of Australian comedy Frontline 
  • Getting his first ever sex scene, with Lucy Lawless in Spartacus
  • How avoiding lead roles can give you longevity as an actor

This video was first uploaded on 14 April 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.

 
 

  Tags

kevin j wilson, pictures, wild horses, chunuk bair, an angel at my table, shark in the park, frontline, pukemanu, actor

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John Keir: Documenting Erebus, Sir Ed, Mani, and more...

Posted on 7 April 2014

Veteran producer John Keir has had a long career producing both documentaries and films. He has collaborated on several film projects with director Grant Lahood, including Lemming Aid and Chicken. Keir has also produced large live TV events such as the Sir Edmund Hillary special On Top of the World and Anzac Day coverage for Maori Television.  

In this ScreenTalk, Keir talks about: 

  • Telling the quirky story of temperance in the documentary Fight the Good Fight
  • Battling lawyers in order to film in court for Flight 901: The Erebus Disaster
  • How live coverage of the Sir Edmund Hillary special On Top of the World nearly came a cropper
  • Why the weather created havoc during the filming of Grant Lahood short Lemming Aid
  • Disappointment over poor box office for the feature film Chicken
  • Being fascinated by the idea behind Treaty of Waitangi series Lost in Translation
  • Finding Mani’s Story the most incredible documentary he’s worked on
  • Making actor Mark Mitchinson shave his eyebrows for the tele-feature Bloodlines

This video was first uploaded on 7 April 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.

 
 

  Tags

john keir, lemming aid, chicken, on top of the world, fight the good fight, the erebus disaster, lost in translation, manis story, bloodlines, producer, documentary, grant lahood

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Ron Pledger: Praise Be live TV…

Posted on 31 March 2014

Got a major live event you want to put on television? Ron Pledger has long been one of the first people to get on the phone. The MBE-awarded director has commanded live coverage of Sir Edmund Hillary’s funeral, Kiri Te Kanawa in concert, This is Your Life and roughly 20 Anzac Day ceremonies. His screen career also encompasses church choirs, Canadian soap operas, the infamous GOFTA awards, and the madness of Top Town. In this ScreenTalk, Pledger talks about:

  • How the music mad saxophone player walked into his first broadcasting job, at Radio 2ZB in Wellington
  • July 1, 1961: on location for Wellington’s first night of television
  • Scoring a gig on Canadian-shot soap Moment of Truth 
  • Moving into directing
  • Golden days in the TVNZ entertainment department, where he created programmes showcasing jazz and dance
  • Rushing around NZ for town versus town hit Top Town
  • His take on the infamous, booze-laden Gofta awards of 1987
  • The key to pulling off This is Your Life
  • How he sets about covering major live events
  • His biggest live gig to date: three hour epic Tomb of the Unknown Warrior
  • Travelling the country for Praise Be
  • Leadership lessons learned from his time in television

This video was first uploaded on 31 March 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.

 
 

  Tags

live events, avalon, avalon, wntv1, new zealand broadcasting service, radio 2zb, top town, just jazz, knock on jazz, jazz scene, top dance, greymouth, gofta, tomb of the unknown warrior, this is your life, praise be, moment of truth, choral singing, ballroom dancing, dancing with the stars, choir

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Michael Firth: Oscar-nominated action man...

Posted on 24 March 2014

Producer/director Michael Firth first made his mark directing the documentary feature Off the Edge. The ski movie was a key early film in the NZ 'new wave' (with contemporary Sleeping Dogs and later Goodbye Pork Pie) and earned an Academy Award nomination in 1977. Since then Firth has produced and directed the dramatic feature films Sylvia, Heart of the Stag and Vulcan Lane. But it is sport and the outdoors he loves best: he went off the edge again in 1987 with the zany adventure sport movie The Leading Edge, and Firth is the key creative behind the internationally successful TV series Adrenalize and fishing show Take the Bait.

In this ScreenTalk, Firth talks about:

  • How a love of snow skiing led to his first feature Off the Edge
  • How perfect timing enabled the filming of an avalanche
  • Delving into a dark part of Kiwi life in Heart of the Stag
  • Facing financing issues while making Sylvia
  • Facing continuity issues recreating that film’s era
  • Creating the ‘crazy docudrama’ that was The Leading Edge
  • How the 1987 share market crash affected the box office
  • Being confronted by Billy T James and a machine gun
  • Selling sports show Adrenalize to 50 countries
  • Almost causing a diplomatic incident with a topless woman
  • How fishing TV show Take the Bait has just grown and grown

This video was first uploaded on 24 March 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.

 
 

  Tags

michael firth, off the edge, sylvia, heart of the stag, vulcan lane, adrenalize, take the bait, producer, director

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Jeanette Thomas: From crime scenes to Good Morning…

Posted on 10 March 2014

Broadcaster Jeanette Thomas is the host of TVNZ’s Good Morning show. Over the years Thomas has presented a range of other programmes including Crimescene, 5:30 with Jude, Jim’s Car Show and Target. She also cameoed as herself in the dramedy Nothing Trivial.

In this ScreenTalk, Thomas talks about:

  • The impact of a murder story on Crimescene
  • Being Jude Dobson’s sidekick on 5:30 with Jude
  • Co-hosting Jim’s Car Show despite knowing nothing about cars
  • Enjoying fronting Target for seven seasons
  • Her reactions to the hidden camera segment
  • Doing an initial short stint on Good Morning 
  • Her best and worst interviews on the show
  • Enjoying the chance to play herself on the comedy show Nothing Trivial

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.

 
 

  Tags

broadcaster, jeanette thomas, good morning, crimescene, 5:30 with jude, jims car show, target, nothing trivial

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John Laing: Beyond Reasonable Doubt to Outrageous Fortune...

Posted on 3 March 2014

Veteran producer/director John Laing has worked in film and television in New Zealand, Canada and the UK. His feature films include the Arthur Allan Thomas-inspired Beyond Reasonable Doubt, cross-cultural romance Other Halves and thriller Dangerous Orphans. Laing has also directed a long list of popular drama series for TV, including Go Girls, Nothing Trivial, Street Legal, Inside Straight and Marlin Bay; plus tele-feature Safe House.

In this ScreenTalk, Laing talks about:

  • Upsetting the National Film Unit with his unconventional film Kariotahi Beach
  • Learning how to direct a feature film on the set of Beyond Reasonable Doubt
  • Taking on too many roles on offbeat thriller The Lost Tribe
  • Getting back to basic story-telling on Inside Straight
  • Being unhappy with the end result on feature film Other Halves
  • Relishing the prospect of creating film noir feature Dangerous Orphans
  • The challenge of juggling different directors on Outrageous Fortune
  • Creating an 'intense' set for tele-feature Safe House

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.

 
 

  Tags

john laing, beyond reasonable doubt, other halves, dangerous orphans, go girls, nothing trivial, kariotahi beach, the lost tribe, inside straight, outrageous fortune, safe house, directing, producing, national film unit, nfu, arthur allan thomas

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Stephen Lovatt: On indie movies, injuries, and playing cops with Campion and Kightley

Posted on 24 February 2014

Stephen Lovatt’s acting career has taken him from ancient Rome to Ramsey Street. Aside from five years acting on Neighbours in Australia, he has played everything from reliable and unreliable Dads to Hades, Lord of the Dead in shows like Go Girls, Being EveMarlin BayShortland Street, and Xena: Warrior Princess. He has also appeared in a number of features — including acclaimed 2013 movie Fantail

In this ScreenTalk, Lovatt talks about: 

  • Witnessing his screen debut on Shark in the Park
  • Onscreen chemistry with Theresa Healey on the ‘wild’ set of Savage Honeymoon
  • How Australian soap Neighbours reminded him of working in the theatre
  • Sustaining an injury doing his own stunt on Being Eve
  • Doing ‘unacceptable’ things on Go Girls
  • Not having to take his shirt off in Spartacus
  • Being “a highly paid extra” on Top of the Lake
  • The impressive style of Oscar Kightley cop show Harry
  • Being proud of low budget feature Fantail
  • His bemusement at getting more lead roles internationally than in New Zealand

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.

 
 

  Tags

theresa healey, stunt, injury, david copeland, oscar kightley, acting, lead roles, shark in the park, savage honeymoon, neighbours, multi-camera, being eve, go girls, spartacus, manu bennett, top of the lake, harry, police shows, fantail, sophie henderson

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Paul Norris: On the changing face of TV news and current affairs…

Posted on 14 February 2014

Journalist and academic Paul Norris had a major role in changing the landscape of television news and current affairs in New Zealand. He cut his teeth with the BBC, but moved back to New Zealand to run TVNZ’s News and Current Affairs division in 1987. In that role, he revamped the evening news on TV One, and launched the Holmes show in 1989. Norris left TVNZ in 1996 to head the New Zealand Broadcasting School in Christchurch. Norris died in February 2014. This interview was published in March 2013. 

In this ScreenTalk, Norris talks about:

  • How a British election set off his career in journalism
  • Being lured back to be Head of News and Current Affairs at TVNZ
  • The changes brought about by former head of TVNZ Julian Mounter
  • Bringing together Richard Long and Judy Bailey on the evening news
  • Being criticised for introducing American consultants for the show
  • How the Holmes show changed the TV current affairs landscape
  • The truth behind the Dennis Conner interview
  • Wanting to tell the story behind radical political changes in the 80s, in documentary series Revolution
  • Reinventing himself as an academic as Head of the NZ Broadcasting School
  • Feeling that TV current affairs is in a rather dire state at the moment
  • Changing the landscape of broadcasting

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.

 
 

  Tags

current affairs, news, journalist, bbc, broadcasting school, academic, holmes, television news, tvnz, paul norris, one news

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