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Welcome to Widescreen!

By Cinema, meta and Video

After a few weeks of development, testing, angst and aggro, I can finally announce the new project I’ve been cooking up at Radio New Zealand. Here’s a short trailer video explaining what it’s all about.


As an added bonus, if you can name all the films and TV shows featured in the above clip, email the list to and go into the draw to win a DVD prize pack featuring half a dozen of those included.

You can also contact us with suggestions and comments at the same address, or you can give us 140 character feedback at @WidescreenRNZ on Twitter.

Here’s the page at the RNZ site.

Rancho Notorious is included in the RNZ deal but still available here (of course). I’ll be posting all my other Widescreen content here too because, why not?

Change appears to be the only constant

By meta

As most of you probably know, back in May I decided that FishHead — Wellington’s best lifestyle magazine — and I had gone as far together as we were probably going to and I quit. There were no plans or other offers on the table but I had confidence that somehow the universe was going to provide. In my experience it usually does.

I was conscious that, despite the many pleasures of working on diverse stories about a city that I love, every minute I spent working on a fashion or recipe feature was time I couldn’t spend talking about movies and TV. I was feeling increasingly disconnected from the screen media and, even though Rancho Notorious was (and is) a whole bunch of fun to do, it was increasingly relegated to a spare time hobby rather than the mission that I imagined it could be.

Reviewing for Nine to Noon every fortnight is fun — and challenging broadcasting — but reviewing three films in 12 minutes can sometimes feel unsatisfying. I also really missed writing. I would read some of the stuff being produced by my contemporaries and feel left behind. There was an itch and no time for me to scratch it.

Sure enough, the universe came through.

In the same week that I announced I was leaving FishHead I got a call from Christian Penny, director of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, asking if I’d be keen on a short contract looking after their marketing and communications. That three months has been tremendously stimulating and I am learning heaps, so much so that when the offer came to stick around on a permanent basis I jumped at the chance. At some point I will write up my thoughts about what how my Toi Whakaari experience is growing me as a professional, and as a person, but it deserves a post of its own and will have to wait.

At the same time as Toi came calling, I was approached by Radio New Zealand to discuss ways we could work together to improve their online coverage of film and television. Those discussions were, shall we say, productive and today I signed my letter of offer to join the staff of RNZ on 14 September as Features Producer — Audio/Visual.

A complicated, exciting, busy future awaits. Half my time I’ll be managing communications for Toi Whakaari. The other half of my time I’ll be producing content for RNZ’s digital platform on the topics of film (theatrical, direct-to-video, new, old, whatever takes my fancy) and television (narrative TV rather than reality TV; boxed set reviews rather than media commentary). That content is going to take the form of audio, video, written features and a podcast which I hope is as close to your heart as it is to mine.

Yes, Rancho Notorious (or something very similar) is coming to RNZ — the naughty stepchild of Radio New Zealand screen coverage. With Kailey.

We’re not sure exactly how much of what we are going to try is actually going to work. I’ve been asked to innovate and the only way we can really do that is by trying stuff and seeing how audiences react.

There’s so much that I am looking forward to, not least working with At the Movies’ Simon Morris to grow the reach of RNZ’s film programming and try things online that there’s no room for in a broadcast schedule.

And after years of pushing Funerals & Snakes and Rancho Notorious (almost) singlehanded at the same time as working competing day jobs, I am really looking forward to working with the RNZ digital and community engagement teams to generate some attention for the material we will be producing. Oh, and using the power of RNZ to get some cool guests for Rancho and other features.

I have always wanted to work for Radio New Zealand. The week I arrived in Wellington in 1986 I cold-called someone at Broadcasting House asking about internships! Arriving at the organisation now, while there is so much change and so much potential, is a massive thrill and a huge opportunity.

Now I have to earn it.


Call to Arms

By Blogging, Cinema and meta

As they say in the movies, “It’s quiet… too quiet.” Yeah, sorry about that but I’ve had a lot on recently.

Here’s the deal. In October last year (2013 if you are visiting here via Google and the date is not otherwise obvious) I had to stop editing ONFILM magazine due to the inconvenience of not being paid and had to find another gig. Cinematica was taking up a lot of also-not-being-paid time and, even though it was an enormous amount of fun and enjoyed by many people, it was impossible to justify financially the amount of time it took every week. Kailey leaving was probably the final straw.

FH_COVER_May2014Since Christmas I have been working as editor of FishHead magazine in Wellington, firstly as interim, then as former, and finally appointed to the permanent position in March. Learning a new magazine and a new market as well as getting a handle on the business side of things has meant that I haven’t had any time to keep these pages up. This may shock you but I haven’t even been able to watch as many films as I used to.

Anyway, FishHead is almost under control, Nine to Noon is chugging along and the private life is in the best shape ever, so it’s time to reinvigorate my  personal expression engine — Funerals & Snakes. In June you will see a new look here and a return to regular reviewing. Subscribers to the email newsletters will also get their weekly updates once again.

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World Cup Interlude

By Football and meta

Once again, things have gone a bit quiet around here but I have been producing some writing for the Internet at Russell Brown’s Public Address blog for the last week or two. Hadyn, Peter D and I have been World Cup guest-blogging and you can read my contributions here, here, here and here. My final piece, trying to reach some conclusions about the tournament, will appear after the Final is concluded some time next Monday.

On the subject of the World Cup, I came across this article at The Guardian today, again trying to sum the tournament up with two games to go:

As we saw in this year’s European Cup, and are now seeing in the World Cup, football is going through a phase in which the science of coaching has the upper hand over the technical skill of individual players. That emphasis gives an advantage to the rich European clubs, and by extension to their national teams, who benefit most immediately from the rising levels of tactical sophistication.

Which seems a reasonable conclusion to come to, I guess, but quite different to what was being said a fortnight ago. I would add that the argument about the primacy of the coach is confirmed by the success of New Zealand (the best coached and led side at the tournament?) and the failure of England, whose coach failed to overcome the negative influences of player-power and media bullying.

Anyway, the World Cup has taken a lot of my time recently, and the Film Festival kicks off in Wellington next Thursday so that’s another fortnight spoken for. Indeed, I have been beavering away at screener DVDs from the Festival for my Capital Times preview which goes to print next week — and I’ll post it here (and at Wellingtonista) as soon as I can.

A new look for Funerals & Snakes

By meta

This week, as part of the general rebirth of Funerals & Snakes, I’m proud to unveil a new masthead:


Designed by renowned Wellington graphic designer and hand-lettering artist Sarah Maxey, it breathes some life (and some colour) into the place.

You can see more examples of Sarah’s work at her own site and, for a few more days, at Bowen Galleries in Wellington.

There’ll be a few more changes coming up, not least of which will be posting all the film reviews that are clogging the place up. Weeks and weeks of them.

A post that has two purposes

By meta

Crikey. The last post was sent up here on the 9th of April. I’m sure most readers have long given up on seeing anything new here but I haven’t.

Here’s a post that does two things:

  • reminds the Internet that I’m still here
  • allows me to test (once again) MarsEdit as a possible replacement for venerable but never updated old ecto

So, the typing seems to be going alright. Let’s try and stick an image in there and see what happens.


Keep it classy, Paramount Wellington

Here’s a picture of the new poster display boards outside the Paramount in Wellington. While it’s nice to see them making an effort to tidy the place up a bit, it would have been even nicer if they had painted over the tagging on the wall before they did the work.

Now to push play on this post and see how it looks.