Niuklia Fri Pasifik
Someone Else's Country
In a Land of Plenty
A Civilised Society
The Hollow Men
I have been making documentaries and working in the film industry in New Zealand since 1973. My first completed project was about a protest voyage to Moruroa Atoll in opposition to French atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. The relative success of this project led me to a lifetime of independent documentary making.
My next project was a three part TV series about New Zealand’s involvement in the Vietnam war. At the same time I joined forces with Rod Prosser and later Russell Campbell to form Vanguard Films producing innovative documentaries like Wildcat, A Century of Struggle and Islands of the Empire. In order to make a living during those late 1970s and 1980s years, I worked as a news cameraman and sound recordist, then more and more on 35mm productions as assistant cameraman and key grip.
In 1988 the only TVNZ commissioned documentary I have been directly responsible for, went to air:Nuklia Fri Pasifik. It told the story of the making of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty from the ban-the-bomb protest marches of the 1960s to the negotiation of a major international treaty. (It is only under the Obama administration that the US has agreed to sign this treaty!)
By the late 1980s I began researching what was to be my most successful project to date, Someone Else’s Country. It seemed the film touched a nerve, telling New Zealanders the story they knew and had lived through. Audiences loved it. The importance of independent, innovative, even daring, documentary making was reconfirmed for me. I decided to try to emulate the success of Someone Else’s Country with another big subject relevant to a wide New Zealand audience. I chose unemployment, and in 2002 with support from Creative New Zealand, premiered In a Land of Plentyto full houses in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch before touring the film to provincial cities and towns. In a Land of Plenty has had, over the last two years, nearly 4000 views or downloads!
My most recent production was The Hollow Men. Based on Nicky Hager’s best selling expose of the inner workings of a National Party election campaign, the film toured to sixteen cities and towns throughout New Zealand as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival. I attended all screenings introducing the film and answering questions at the end. We also sold DVD copies at screenings of my previous titles. A new innovation with the distribution of The Hollow Men was my having it shown on Sky TV’s Rialto Channel. My friend Gil Scrine, an Australian arthouse film distributor and documentary maker, once said that making the film was only half a project, the second half was getting it to an audience. Applying Gil’s principle continues to provide important and satisfying work for me in parallel with my continuing to make useful, innovative and I hope, entertaining documentaries for my fellow citizens.