Incredibly Strange Television Launches

21 10 2008

New Zealand’s first specially curated late night film series is finally a reality for one movie obsessed fan. The series, which officially launches next month on the MGM Channel and continues every Saturday night for four months, has been a thirty-year odyssey for local cinefile Ant Timpson (creator of Incredibly Strange Film Festival & 48HOURS).

Spoilt by a brief stint to California in 1978 when late night programming and cable TV was exploding, Timpson explains why he’s so happy about the forthcoming Incredibly Strange series, “programming my own late night movie series has been a dream for many years. I was totally influenced by the crazy fare that screened in Los Angeles in the late 70s. You could imagine my horror upon returning to NZ and seeing network programming shut down at 11pm. The closest we ever got to a fun film series was The Sunday Horrors. I was ecstatic when MGM suggested a collaboration. The MGM Channel exists to serve the movie lover and are not concerned with chasing ad revenue. MGM not only opened their vaults to me, they went after specific titles I wanted from other studios and independents, to me that showed an unbelievable commitment to the vision.”

Incredibly Strange Television will be a weekly show on Saturday nights that screens two feature films from 10.30pm with unusual clips in between. The series features the work of pioneers in exploitation film, movie madmen like HG Lewis (Wizard of Gore), Russ Meyer (Supervixens), Larry Buchanan (In the Year 2889), Joe D’Amato (Absurd) and the legendary horror films from the Shaw Bros (Boxers Omen) have been carefully assembled into theme nights (Nature Run Amok, Man in a Suit, Toga! Toga! Toga!, The Raincoat Brigade) to provide a smorgasbord of untamed and uncut cinema.

The series guarantees that every film is a New Zealand television premiere and that many have never even been released in cinemas or even on home video, something Timpson is very proud of, “late night TV should not be about infomercial and dating lines. It should be about coming home from a night out, turning on the TV and letting the devil dance on your pupils. It took a gutsy channel like MGM to see the potential of letting a psychopath like me programme whatever I wanted. In this day and age when nearly every film is accessible online, the unfortunate result is neatly stacked piles of dvds/files sitting unwatched on shelves/hard-drives. A carefully curated series like this means you don’t even need to move from the couch. It’s cool to think that a bunch of diehard movie fans will all be tuning in at the same time to get their minds blown, kind of like the ultimate incredibly strange film festival, but for really lazy people”.

One film scheduled to screen is certain to cause controversy. Still banned in most countries, the film has never been seen on television in any English speaking territory before, making the upcoming screening a world first. Timpson decided to package the (unnamed at press time) film with another demented one to make it a night from hell for the viewer, “they won’t just need a shower after this double feature, they’ll need counselling”.

The uncut and uninterrupted film series is also offering the chance for creative movie buffs to submit station bumpers to be used between the films. They can be animated or live action or a mix of both.

The film series is presented in association with the energy drink V, the long-term supporter of all things filmy in New Zealand. The movie lovers drink also supports the Incredibly Strange Film Festival, the Annual 24Hour Movie Marathon and of course 48HOURS.

Interested movie maniacs can visit the official website for more details.

Incredibly Strange Television
Launches November 15th
Every Saturday Night from 10.30pm
MGM Channel, Sky Television
Presented by Energy Drink V


Pukeko Pictures successful at MipCom Jr with Trooper Tom

21 10 2008

Trooper Tom

Trooper Tom

Children‟s television production and licensing company, Chapman Entertainment, successfully cemented a partnership in Cannes last week with Pukeko Pictures, with interest received in their new joint venture from 15 broadcasters over two days at MIPCOM JR.

Pukeko Pictures is the new children‟s television venture of Martin Baynton and Richard Taylor – five times Academy Award winning Creative Director and Co-Owner of NZ‟s Weta Workshop.

Trooper Tom (working title) is a state of the art CGI animated adventure series aimed at 6-12 year old boys. It is set on an epic stage with Shakespearean villainy, a wry sense of humour and breathtaking action. Half human, half robot, all hero – Trooper Tom is a futuristic Pinocchio, an experimental android infused with human DNA. The series is jointly led by Richard Taylor, Martin Baynton, and Chapman Entertainment‟s Creative Director, Keith Chapman. The production will be made by Weta Workshop at their New Zealand studios.

Chapman comments: “We are always looking for gaps in the market to fill, and this partnership with Pukeko Pictures provides an opportunity to do just that. We are really excited about this great new sci-fi series and even more excited about working with Weta Workshop, who are the best in the business in their field.” Richard Taylor, comments: “We are incredibly excited by our relationship with Chapman Entertainment and the first property that we have developed with them. The experience of presenting our show together in Cannes was nothing short of fantastic and the reactions to Trooper Tom was very rewarding.” This new 26 x 22 minute animation involves action, speed, heroism and some seriously cool adventures with the greatest battle machines ever invented.

Pukeko Pictures also unveiled their delightful new pre-school series The WotWots at MIPCOM JR last week, with great success. The WotWots follows the adventures of two small puppet-like aliens – a brother and sister – who come to explore planet Earth in their steam powered spaceship.Trooper Tom

Weta look to launch new kids TV show – WotWots

18 09 2008

Wotwots childrens TV Show

Wotwots childrens TV Show

A small steam powered spaceship lands in a local zoo. Inside are two young and very energetic aliens. They wonder who they are and what they will look like when they are fully grown adults. Will they look like one of the zoo animals outside?

DottyWot and SpottyWot are soft puppet-like characters who scoot around a local zoo on their steam powered hover-chairs. They are an inquisitive and energetic pair who embrace their adventures with gusto and enthusiasm. They have big hearts, take great care of each other and are not afraid to show the affection they have as brother and sister.

The adventures of these loveable aliens and their playful exploration of the zoo had a test audience of preschool children squealing with delight when previewed at Weta in Wellington , New Zealand .

The WotWots are launching onto the TV screens of Australia on ABC Children’s television in April 2009 and on New Zealand ‘s TVNZ in March 2009.

Developed and produced by the creative team behind the award winning TV series Jane And The Dragon , these adventures of the WotWots are set to delight, fascinate and educate a new generation of TV viewers across the world.

The multi Academy Award winning artists of Richard Taylor ‘s Weta Workshop have yet again joined with the story-telling talents of Martin Baynton and Theo Baynton to bring this endearing world of comedy and adventure to life.

Tim Brooke-Hunt, Head of Children’s for ABC Television said: “We are thrilled to broadcast this exceptional new series from WETA. We are confident that pre-schoolers will delight in the adventures of Spotty and Dotty, and that the WotWot’s will find an enthusiastic audience in Australia .”

Brief Bios (full details available on contact):

Weta Workshop is the multi Award winning special effects studio, best known for their work on The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong .

Richard Taylor , executive producer, is the five times Oscar award winning owner, co-founding director and the creative lead at Weta Workshop.

Martin Baynton , executive producer, has written and illustrated more than 30 books for children, published by Penguin, Walker Books, Scholastic, Greenwillow and Methuen .

Theo Baynton , director, was the art director and design supervisor for Jane And The Dragon and has also written and illustrated children’s books.

Andrew Smith, producer , was the supervising producer for Jane and the Dragon and is the commercial manager for Weta Workshop

Jan Haynes, producer, has worked in the film and television industry for over 25 years and has produced several award-winning series. She was the New Zealand Line Producer on Jane and the Dragon.

David Long, composer, composes, performs and produces music and has worked on Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings and King Kong .

New local drama series The Pretender set for launch

12 09 2008

Local series The Pretender is a fly-on-the-wall look at the inner workings of a typical New Zealand MP’s office. It follows the highs and lows, backroom machinations, and desperate measures of MP Dennis Plant (Bob MacLaren) and his team as they attempt to navigate the dog-eat-dog world of governmental politics. Disgruntled with his ineffectual back bench position with the National Party, Dennis joins forces with defecting Labour MP Joanne Williams to form the new political party, Future New Zealand, and hold the balance of power. Dennis suddenly finds himself launched from virtual obscurity into the spotlight of the national media, though whether he’ll survive it remains to be seen.

Behind every politician is his team: Johnny Green (Andre King), his jaded and cynical strategist and policy advisor; Ed Hamilton-Smith (Mark Neilson), Dennis’ hapless press secretary: under-paid, under-valued and over-worked; and Joanne Williams (Lucy Schmidt), a career politician, and Future New Zealand’s co-leader: idealistic, intelligent, conscientious, and uncharismatic to the point of invisibility.

Broadcast Sunday 21 September 2008, 10:00pm on TV One

This is Your Life back to reveal famous New Zealander

12 09 2008

Paul Henry honours another legendary Kiwi in the latest instalment of This Is Your Life.

The famous red book will be open again and another unsuspecting recipient will be surprised with the words “This Is Your Life”, before returning to TVNZ’s Auckland studios for the LIVE 90-minute television event.

Recipients are iconic New Zealanders who have made a significant contribution to the country. This Is Your Life looks behind their well-documented public stories, to reveal amusing anecdotes, interesting facts and personal insights.

Broadcast: Sunday 21 September 2008, 8:30pm on TV One

The 2008 New World International Netball series set for TV One

12 09 2008

ONE Sport will have exclusively LIVE coverage of the Silver Ferns playing arch-rivals Australia, in the second game of The 2008 New World International Netball Series, from the Vector Arena in Auckland. Host Toni Street will be joined by commentators Julie Coney, Jenny-May Coffin and Kiri Wills.

broadcast Saturday 20 September, starting 7:30 on TV One

Vincent Ward’s new feature Rain Of The Children wins film festival selection

11 09 2008

Vincent Ward’s new feature Rain Of The Children is winning selection in some of the world’s leading film festivals.

It has been selected for two competitions: at the Hawaii Film Festival and the Chicago Film Festival.

“The Chicago selection is full circle for me,” says Ward. “The new film evolved from my 1980 documentary In Spring One Plants Alone, which won a Silver Hugo at Chicago. It is exciting that my new film will also be in competition at Chicago.”

Rain Of The Children has also been selected for the Hof Film Festival, one of the most influential film events in Germany, which is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.

And it will be representing New Zealand in Thailand at the Bangkok Film Festival, with the director as a festival guest and a reception in the film’s honour hosted by the New Zealand Ambassador.

The film has already scored international success by winning the grand prix at the New Horizons Film Festival in the Polish university city of Wroclaw. The film then screened in the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Its world premiere in the Sydney Film Festival was followed by screenings in the Melbourne Film Festival with actor Temuera Morrison representing the film, and in the Brisbane Film Festival.

Its New Zealand premiere at the Auckland Film Festival was attended by more than 300 Tuhoe representatives many of whom traveled to Auckland from the Urewera region where the film was made.

Rain of the Children uncovers the story of an old Maori woman who was the subject of Ward’s In Spring One Plants Alone, which he made when he was 21. It showed the life of 80-year-old Puhi who lived in remote bush country looking after her 40-year-old son Niki. Ward lived with Puhi for 18 months but never unravelled the mystery of her life. In the new film, we learn her extraordinary story.

Critics have been impressed. “A haunting historical epic,” wrote the Hollywood Reporter. “Emotionally rewarding, powerful and heart-wrenching,” wrote Variety. Auckland Film Festival director Bill Gosden wrote: “You are bound to be amazed and shaken by the spectacular fusion of documentary, myth and personal history.”

Rain Of The Children begins its New Zealand theatrical release in main centres next week, after previews starting today (Thursday 11th) in seven provincial towns.

Katie Wolfe’s This is Her selected for New York Film Festival

9 09 2008

This is Her NZ short film starring Mia Blake as Evie

This is Her NZ short film starring Mia Blake as Evie

Katie Wolfe’s New Zealand short film This is Her has been selected to screen in official selection at the 46th New York Film Festival later this month after premiering in North America at the prestigious 35th Telluride Film Festival last weekend.

This follows nominations for This is Her in all four short film categories of the New Zealand Qantas Film and Television Awards including Best Short Film.

“We are absolutely thrilled that This Is Her has been selected to screen in such important festivals as Telluride and New York. With so many short films being made around the world, it’s a huge honour to be invited to these highly competitive festivals. These selections indicate the strength of the short film’s unique voice,” says NZFC Short Film Manager Juliette Veber.

This Is Her is a 12 minute black tale directed by Katie Wolfe about the bitter aftertaste of love. As she watches her younger self in the throes of childbirth, Evie’s devastatingly wry commentary reveals exactly what life has in store for her, her loving husband, and the six year old bitch who will one day steal his affections and destroy her life. This is Her is written by Kate McDermott and produced by Felicity Letcher and Rachel Lorimer.

“There was a lot of interest in This Is Her at Telluride, and It was heartening to see that the comedy of the film translated into the American sensibility,” says director Katie Wolfe.

“Telluride is a very small, select festival. You get to see a lot of wonderful films, and to interact with amazing filmmakers, in my case Mike Leigh and David Fincher. I also connected with a network of upcoming filmmakers from around the world.”

“Telluride was amazing, and I’m now looking forward to seeing the film with a New York audience, especially as it is playing in the revived Ziegfeld Theatre.”

Producers Rachel Lorimer and Felicity Letcher say This Is Her’s success is a testament to the storytelling talents of Katie, and of writer Kate McDermott, and the efforts of a terrific cast and crew.

“We are absolutely delighted by the response to This Is Her, both at home and overseas. Telluride has a reputation for selecting shorts from new filmmakers who go on to make feature films very quickly. New York is one of the great film festivals.

“It is fantastic to see a contemporary Kiwi story embraced by moviegoers around the world.”

This Is Her screens at the 46th New York Film Festival before the Mexican feature film I’m Gonna Explode (Voy A Explotar). The New York Film Festival showcases inspiring and provocative cinema by emerging talents and first rank international artists whose films are often recognised as contemporary classics. The festival has introduced filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, Martin Scorsese, Francois Truffaut and Wong Kar-Wai to the United States.

This Is Her was funded by the Short Film Fund of the New Zealand Film Commission.

The film premiered at that Edinburgh International Film Festival earlier this year, and has screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival.

The 46th New York Film Festival runs 26 September to 12 October 2008, for more information see

Strong year sees TVNZ back in profit

3 09 2008

Television New Zealand made an after tax profit of $19.4 million for the financial year ended June 2008, Chief Executive Rick Ellis said today.

This was from operating earnings before non recurring items, interest, tax and financial instruments of $27 million, which represents a $14.3 million turnaround or a 112 % increase over the prior year.

Mr Ellis said the strong result was off the back of higher advertising revenues from higher channel ratings and getting the organisation’s costs under control.

Mr Ellis said the annual result meant TVNZ achieved a return on average equity of 8.3%, which was ahead of the 6.4 % target set for the year.

TVNZ would be paying a $10.3 million dividend to the Crown.

Excluding Government funding for the digital channels, total income for the year was $379.7 million, an increase of $4.7 million (or 1.3%) over the prior year. The primary driver of this increase was a $2.7 million (0.9%) increase in advertising revenue.

Excluding costs for the digital channels which are covered by Government funding, total expenses were $352.6 million for the year, a reduction of $9.7 million (2.7%) on the prior year’s operating costs.

That means TVNZ had a year on year improvement in earnings (before non recurring items, interest, tax and financial instruments) of $14.4 million from the $4.7 million improvement in income and the $9.7 million of cost reduction from the core business.

“Our revenue targets for the year were all exceeded. This is year one of the TVNZ three year turnaround plan and it’s a credit to a highly motivated and focussed staff working to a well thought out strategy,” he said.

“Our increase in advertising revenue is particularly pleasing given the broadcasting of the 2007 Rugby World Cup occurred on a competing channel in September and October 2007 and the market conditions in the latter part of the financial year. TVNZ television advertising revenues were strong in the second half of the year with a year on year increase of 3.4 % for the January to June period.

“While the economic outlook for the 2009 financial year is challenging for many New Zealand businesses we are cautiously optimistic about the environment and confident in our abilities and plans.”

He said local content hours on TV ONE and TV 2 were at similar levels to the previous year at 4,867 compared with 4,822 and 15 of the 20 top rating programmes for the year were on TVNZ channels. It was particularly pleasing that 17 of the 20 top rating programmes on TV ONE were locally produced.

That quantity of local content doesn’t count the impact of TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 and is more than three times TVNZ’s nearest rivals.

“We’ve had a very strong year on screen. Our flagship ONE News at 6pm has had consistent lifts in its ratings, shows like Dancing With The Stars have proved extremely popular, coverage of major events like Sir Edmund Hillary’s state funeral captivated the public and the launch of TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 has enabled TVNZ to extend its range of programmes and its value to New Zealanders as the country’s public broadcaster.”

He said TVNZ continued to work hard on its strategy of ‘inspiring New Zealanders on every screen’ with commercial deals signed with Bebo, Google, Telecom, Fairfax, South Pacific Pictures, Greenstone Pictures and Chinese Television.

TVNZ ondemand had become enormously popular in the space of 18 months with 30,000 hours of television watched on average each month, while has monthly average unique visitors of 826,000.

He said other highlights included:
*higher than anticipated uptake of digital platform Freeview, of which TVNZ is the largest shareholder;
*the beginning of a $30 million investment in TVNZ’s digital infrastructure;
*conducting the first statutory review of the TVNZ Charter;
*the use for the first time in the annual report of a framework to measure TVNZ’s delivery of the Charter; and
*more than 600 hours of content broadcast to 14 Pacific nation broadcasters via the TVNZ Pacific Service.

N.B. This is the first year that TVNZ has used the new New Zealand International Financial Reporting Standards.

Department of Conservation and TVNZ 6 Family combine for events

27 08 2008

Kiwi children will be able to learn more about their local wildlife and wild places during Meet the Locals Conservation Week celebrations at Auckland Zoo on September 7 and Wellington Zoo on September 14.

The events are the brainchild of the Department of Conservation (DOC) and TVNZ 6 Family, and an extension of the partnership they formed with the Meet the Locals television series.

The series, currently screening on TVNZ 6 Family, introduces viewers to New Zealand’s native species – local plants, local animals and the local humans who love to look after them.

The Department of Conservation’s General Manager of Marketing and Communications, Sue Paterson, said Meet the Locals had proved to be a fantastic way of engaging Kiwis in the importance of conservation, and their partnership with TVNZ 6 is helping DOC to reach a wider audience.

“Meet the Locals Conservation Week is another great opportunity to work with TVNZ 6 to extend the Meet the Locals message into the wider community. At the zoo events children and their parents will be able to learn more about their environment and its inhabitants and see species like kiwi and tuatara up close.”

TVNZ General Manager Digital Services, Eric Kearley said partnerships such as the one TVNZ 6 enjoys with DOC were important in ensuring TVNZ’s digital channels delivered local and relevant content.

“Our relationship with DOC has produced some fantastic local content for TVNZ 6 and helped spread the conservation message via television to young New Zealanders in particular. Celebrating Meet the Locals Conservation Week through the events at Auckland and Wellington Zoos is taking our partnership to another level by bringing the TV show to life.”

Mr Kearley said TVNZ 6’s partnership with DOC was possible because the two organisations measured success in terms of public value.

“We’re hoping to develop more relationships with other like-minded organisations that share the same public value ethos,” he said.

For more information on Meet the Locals Conservation Week activity: