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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.