A drama about the events of the 1981 Springbok Tour, a New Zealand instalment of Underbelly, and a biopic of iconic comedian Billy T James have all received funding from NZ On Air’s television Platinum Fund.
The $15.1 million Platinum Fund was created last year to stimulate new high-quality local programmes.
The dramas are Rage, the first drama centered on the events of the Springbok Tour and written by Tom Scott, Billy, the life of Billy T James written by Briar Grace Smith, and Underbelly NZ, the Kiwi connection to the multiple Logie-award winning Australian drama, written by John Banas.
“The Platinum fund allows us to fund high-end works that have something important to say about New Zealand that will appeal to a broad cross-section of New Zealanders,” said NZ On Air chief executive Jane Wrightson.
“Underbelly has been hugely successful here and internationally with its gripping stories and exceptional production values. This instalment will be New Zealand-based and cover the Marty Johnstone story,” said Ms Wrightson. “It was a dramatic part of New Zealand’s history – in some ways the end of innocence for us and our police force,” she said.
“Not far behind, in historical terms, was the Springbok Tour. This too is an important story of change in our nation, and we are delighted to support the Rage, telling the tale, both from the police and the protestors’ point of view”, said Ms Wrightson.
“With Billy rounding out the mix, productions of this quality and scale are expensive to make without funding support. NZ On Air is pleased to be able to support these important dramas telling quite different aspects of ‘our story’” she said.
Along with the three dramas, NZ On Air has also funded four Platinum documentary projects. Descent from Disaster will review notable incidents in Kiwi history from the perspective of the descendents of the people involved. The Story will provide an opportunity for four leading documentary makers to create works that will provide insight into some of New Zealand’s important institutions associated with health, welfare, education, and law and order. Wild Coasts will allow renowned wildlife photographer Craig Potton to provide another perspective on some of our special places and The Hunt For The Pink and White Terraces will cover a current geological investigation.
“Initiatives like The Story, which could take each film maker up to two years to produce their episode, are all too rare in New Zealand because they’re costly and time-consuming. Yet they have the power to genuinely impact the viewer, and make a significant contribution to New Zealand culture and society” said Ms Wrightson.
These factual series join the funded current affairs series Q+A and The Nation which were also recently confirmed.