'Documentary' Posts

John Bates - documenting NZ

Posted on 5 July 2011

Award-winning documentary maker John Bates is a Scotsman who has lived in New Zealand for over 40 years. His documentaries have covered a range of genres from art: The Dutchman, The Making of an Opera; Sense of Place, Robin Morrison, Photographer; Reflections, Gretchen Albrecht, to social issues: New Faces, Old Fears; Crime and Punishment, to historical: Banned, 100 Years of Censorship in New Zealand; 1951. In 2010, Bates produced and directed the acclaimed series 50 Years of New Zealand Television. In this ScreenTalk interview, Bates talks about:

  • Initially being told he couldn’t direct his documentary Sense of Place
  • How the subject of the documentary Robin Morrison passed away while filming was still in progress
  • Learning about abstract art through the doco Reflections – Gretchen Albrecht
  • How copyright issues mean that Banned – A History of Censorship will never be re-screened
  • How his documentary 1951 told the suppressed history of the waterside lock out
  • The making of 50 Years of New Zealand Television and why it was better for being produced for Prime
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



director, producer, Documentary, filmmaker

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The Jam girls - Melanie Rakena and Jane Andrews

Posted on 28 June 2010

Jam TV is a boutique production company owned and run by Melanie Rakena and Jane Andrews. The duo met while working at TVNZ and formed the company to make Intrepid Journeys, the long-running TV ONE show that takes local celebrities out of their comfort zones and into challenging locations around the globe. Jam has also produced a range of other well-received factual series including Off the Rails, ICE, South, and Off the Radar, as well as the documentary Our Lost War - Passchendaele. In this ScreenTalk interview, Rakena and Andrews talk about:

  • How working together at TVNZ cemented their working relationship
  • Being told it would be impossible to film Intrepid Journeys
  • How illness and discomfort create close bonds between presenters and crew
  • A near death experience on a mountain in Borneo
  • Taking Marcus Lush to the ends of the earth in ICE and the ends of New Zealand in South
  • Being mistaken for a true-blue West Coaster in Off the Rails
  • Living with Te Radar in a paddock while filming Off the Radar
  • And wishing Radar would keep his pants on
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



director, producer, Documentary, travel, te radar, Jam TV, Intrepid Journeys

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George Andrews

Posted on 10 September 2009

Veteran documentary producer/director George Andrews has been a strong and consistent supporter of public service broadcasting, and was the main creative force behind the iconic early 1980s documentary series Landmarks. Andrews began his career as a broadcast journalist, later moving to producing and directing. In this ScreenTalk interview he talks about:

  • the story of his time presenting pioneering current affairs show Gallery
  • producing the ground-breaking documentary series Landmarks in the early 1980s
  • his involvement in the start-up of TV3, and how the network's direction changed over time, moving it away from the public service style programming that he had hoped for
  • launching his own production company George Andrews Productions, and some of the programmes he has enjoyed making over the years
  • how his 2006 documentary Made in Taiwan - starring Oscar Kightley and Nathan Rarere - came about
  • and finally he tells the story of how Made in Taiwan led to his 2008 documentary Allan Wilson - Evolutionary, about the pioneering and controversial New Zealand-born biologist. The programme was funded by the University of California, Berkeley, where Wilson spent much of his career.
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.  



producer, george andrews, landmarks, Documentary

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Leanne Pooley on making docos and Untouchable Girls

Posted on 3 April 2009

Documentary filmmaker Leanne Pooley’s award-winning films have examined some of the most potent issues of New Zealand’s recent history from euthanasia (The Promise, about euthanasia advocate Lesley Martin), to sport and politics (Try Revolution, about the effect of protests against the 1981 Springbok Tour in South Africa), to controversial murders (Relative Guilt, about the effect of the David Tamihere trial on his family). She has sensitively paid tribute to some of our most potent, but complicated, artists, dancer Douglas Wright (Haunting Douglas) and conceptual artist Billy Apple (Being Billy Apple); and she has profiled the first Buddhist High Lama incarnated in the Southern Hemisphere, in Kiwi Buddha. Canadian-born Pooley talks to NZ On Screen about her career, from working for international broadcasters from London (BBC, Channel Four, ITV, Discovery Channel) to the challenges of, and motivations for, making docos in NZ: “my criteria: is it a great story and will it resonate with the world.” Pooley discusses The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, her documentary on Kiwi icons Lynda and Jools Topp. The doco looks at the yodeling country music comedic phenomenon and examines the subversion amongst the sing-alongs: “Every really important social change that’s happened in New Zealand over the last 30 years the twins have been a part of, and in some cases even provided a soundtrack for.” This interview was conducted by Clare O’Leary with camera and editing by Leo Guerchmann. It is available to embed and distribute on YouTube.



Documentary, Pooley, dance, conceptual art, buddha, murder, Springbok Tour, euthanasia, Topp Twins

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