In praise of small planes

Not more rants about drones & UAVS – yesterday I went on a quick trip to the South Island, for a shoot in Pelorus Sound… Usually I fly Jetstar (I’m not much of a fan of Air NZ and those godawful videos they make) but as this was a very short flight I flew Sounds Air & when I went to board I discovered it was a tiny plane – maximum seating would be about a dozen people, including the pilot & co pilot!


I could literally look over the shoulder of the pilot


We had great weather so it was fun & relaxing, not so sure that would apply in bad weather!


Flying back to Wellington just after sunset I was ready & shot lots of slightly blurry photos… c’est la vie!



turning brown and torn in two

Dear Chris…

that song!

we all have one,
a song that turns up
right at a profound turning point in your life

i think it was close to the end of my first year at university
right about the time i was starting to wonder WTF i was doing there
so much fun, but studying? yeah, nah….

every sunday night karen hay would get an hour to play the latest music vids on one of the two tv channels
and on this particular sunday she played the scratch film music video for turning brown and torn in two
back then i was living in the university halls – a kind of backpackers hostel for students
and the reaction was pulpable… tiny brains wondering wtf is this
but to me, i just felt that asmatic tape loop, the beautiful guitar, that voice
and those lyrics….



“All the dishonesty we have contrived
masquerading as the fact
showing up the strength we lacked
closing up the way we act
Photos of women i’ve treated as sex
turning brown and torn in two
coffee stains as their tattoo
who it is i have no clue
So many races we’ve blithely ignored
letting slide a racial slur
till they all become a blur
expecting them to call us sir
Then there are times we say we meaning i
i guess that is that sort of time
stretching sense to make a rhyme
struggling to complete a line
Religions and preachers are dead as their gods
occultism is maybe worse
i wonder sometimes which came first
the cross the mystic or the purse
People who govern are strangers to me
and i’m a stranger to them too
presumably they don’t know you
thats why they do the job they do
And i have a feeling there’s nothing to do
but then again i know there must
be something more than bones and dust
something more than creeping rust…”



i’d played bass in a couple of bands by that stage & was a bit bored with the idea…
i had started to dream of owning the machine that had allowed chris
to both write & record some of this countries most iconic music


so i put pen to paper & sent chris a letter
i cant remember what i wrote,
what questions i might have asked
but a week or two later, back came a reply
soon as i saw the envelope i knew who had sent it
wish i’d kept it… it started me down a path
that i might never have otherwise found…



a decade later & my younger sister got married,
& walked down the aisle to this beautiful song,
played & sung by two of her friends:

Not given lightly:



why the nostalgia?
dear chris had a stroke a number of years ago
& having hoped a lot but not heard much,
every now & again i’d wonder…
& then this article appeared in the local paper
Not giving in lightly



Nothing’s Going to Happen

nothing = everything

Kia Kaha Chris!

Three great films!

The NZ International Film Festival has come to an end and I am (VERY) embarrassed to say I only made it to three films. In the past I have usually made it to 15-20 films over the 3 weeks of the festival – the selections made by Bill & the team are reliably excellent & the only reason I didn’t get to more is due to work and other commitments – my schedule meant I was away down South for most of the festival & got back to just in time to catch some excellent films this weekend…


Cemetery of Splendour by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

My memories of Uncle Boonme Who Can recall His Past Lives are so strong that I juggled my schedule to see Weerasethakuls new film in a cinema. If you have any experience with his films, you will know patience is a virtue… and a virtue which is rewarded. Slow film is a sub-genre that requires submission – no matter what it took to get there, the race through traffic to find a park or whatever, the film requires you discard your sense of time and slowly adopt the pace, sensibilities and amorphous spiritual world of this brilliant Thai director & artist.

The film employs the metaphor of a hospital room full of psychologically damaged soldiers who spend 95% of the film sleeping (or in a coma) to enable the audience to slowly question the basis of the reality they are suspending their disbelief from. One of my theories relates closely to a film I am working on later in the year, so I wont go into it too much, but for me the bottom line of any film is not based on its box office success, or some review. It is solely based on how I feel when I leave the theatre, and how long those feelings stay with me. For half an hour after the screening I wasn’t sure I should be driving – I felt like I had slowly fallen into a trance or waking dream, that was so complex that a day or two of thought was required to assimilate it (while knowing aspects of it could never be assimilated). To quote Einstein: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

Our Little Sister_UmimachiDiary_Still-0-2000-0-1125-crop

Our Little Sister by Hirokazu Koreeda

I grimaced when I saw someone post a comment online about how great Mad Max Fury was for its strong female character & I thought hmmmm… does that really equate to a woman acting like a testosterone fueled male? But at the end of this beautiful film I couldn’t but help feel how great it was to spend almost all of a film in the company of an excellent ensemble female cast, working with such a beautifully complex script. Such great characters & a story that isn’t afraid to confront some of lifes most profound issues… Beautifully observed & highly reccomended!

Ex Machina by Alex Garland

AI, right? I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this film, and the start had me doubting my choice but slowly the psychological complexity grew until I was trying to second guess the third act…

For me, there are two forms of sci fi. One involves robots, explosions and spaceships (i.e. is action based & aimed at physical and/or emotional 12 year olds) – the other probes & questions our morality, our core reasons for being & the deepest recesses of the psyche. No prizes for guessing which I prefer…. Ex Machina is definitely worth a look, sharing some philosophical aspects with HER but without Spike Jonzes deft touch…

HISSandaROAR first five

While I was preparing the HISSandaROAR Sale I zoned out & watched all the promo videos I’ve made over the last five years… It was kinda fun, enough time has passed that I can watch them as though I didn’t make them… Apart from the sounds & footage it was also fun to hear the bits of music I used for each one, some of which I’d like to revisit for other purposes…
Anyway I am going to post them over the next week, so apologies in advance is you’ve seen & heard them all before 😉
Heres the first five – I know Vegetable Violence was shot on my old DV camera (hence the aspect ratio) so these also represent a timeline of me getting a better camera, and hopefully getting better at using it!






The Great Martian War

Archive recreation for The Great Martian War documentary by impossible factual for History Canada.
Directed by Christian Johnson, (Plazma). and Steve Maher (impossible factual).

Using World War I archival footage, CGI, and some reenactment footage as well, this shows what a real Martian War would have looked like in 1914

Music: “88” by Working for a Nuclear Free City.

(this would be a GREAT project to recreate archival sound for!!)



Might have to get me one of these signs – would be a quite effective burglar deterrent (unless they were wearing tinfoil or something) – if they didnt believe & looked in the window & saw the modular synth running they’d soon change their minds!!

Shipwreck revisited


I’ve slowly learned if you visit a location and the conditions aren’t right, it is still valuable as a recce… This was my third visit to this shipwreck, dawn tomorrow will be my fourth – it is such a pleasure being able to pre-visualize & enjoy whatever mother nature has to offer, dusk tonight was gorgeous… And the resident gulls didnt seem to mind me slowly flying overhead at all!